"Wood warms you twice," my mother used to say. "Once when you cut it, and once when you burn it."
She wasn't wrong there. Today I got my own logging operation up and running. I have a large stack of timber that has been sitting in a corner, gently rotting, for a number of years. Some elm, some cherry, all between 3" and 6" in diameter, mostly sodden on the outside, but still with good heartwood. I cleared a corner of the paddock which is sheltered under some trees and using the small car trailer I have as a kind of mega-wheelbarrow I carried my first load there. Then I visited Anna's mother's old house (still empty and up for sale) and appropriated an ancient saw-horse that I had my eye on. I hope nobody wanted it. And then I got the chainsaw out and filled it with oil and 50:1 two-stroke mix. I grabbed the splitting maul and took everything to the paddock. And then I got to work.
Even with power assistance, it's heavy work lugging the logs on to the saw-horse, cutting them up and then splitting them to stove-friendly dimensions. By the time I had done the first trailer-load (1 trailerful = 3 wheelbarrows of cut logs) and stacked them in the shelter, I was done in. But seeing the newly-repaired end of the log store being filled up with my own logs - free, apart from the cost of the petrol for the saw - was very good. The wood I did today is so wet that I don't expect it to be ready for at least a year, but stacking it at the back of the store ready to let the wind do its desiccating work was a bit like buying a good wine for the cellar - it's that feeling of laying something down for the future which is so satisfying.
And it's real Man Stuff, too.
Now that I have all the gear in place, I will be able to do a bit at a time, which at my age is probably the only way I am going to get a big task done. The days when I could have cut, sawn, split and stacked a ton of logs in a day are gone. From the quantity that I managed to achieve today, I reckon there are another ten similar sessions before I fill the first bay. Eating an elephant, kind of thing.
The first barrowload was celebrated with a can of beer and a nice sit-down.