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Yesterday, Scott spent the day cutting a cord of wood at an Island Timberlands clear-cut. It was hard work, but for $30 a cord, who could resist? Find out more
A Chainsaw, Cord-of-Fire-Wood-Cutting Day
We heat our home with a wood stove. Last winter wasn't super cold, but it did seem to linger and we were scraping the bottom of the wood shed by the time warm spring weather finally arrived. We're already thinking about building next year's supply, but not eager to shell out approximately $170 per cord. When Travis called to say that we had an opportunity to cut our own fire wood for $30 a load, we changed our family's weekend plan, so that Scott could participate.
Alex and I woke up at 6 AM on Saturday, tended to the chickens, fixed a fresh, fried-egg breakfast and then headed over to Travis' house. Alex stayed, to play with Miki, while Travis and I headed up to a clear cut area behind Chase River, to chainsaw up a bunch of fire wood.
The land is owned by Island Timberlands and for a handful of days this year (6) it is opened up to the public, so that they can cut fire wood. The "U-Cut" program is unique and (as far as clear-cutting can be considered environmentally friendly) it is a beneficial way for the timber company to get rid of unwanted timber. (Normally, such timber is heaped into a great big pile and burned).
Neither Travis, nor myself, have been on a timber land chain sawing trip, so for us, it was a new adventure!
To read more about our chain sawing, sweat dripping day .... read on ...
Ready, Set, Permit, Safety ... Cut Cut Cut
We followed the directions that Travis was given, over the phone and at a little after seven in the morning, we were at the clear-cut site. It wasn't too far from where we live, which was nice and it's still mind-boggling to me that after less than a half hour drive from our home, we were in the bush!
Outside of Chase River, paralleling the Island Highway, we drove past an unlocked gate. It was dirt road from that point forward and after a couple of clicks, we came to a checkpoint. We were issued Island Timberlands "Special Forest Products Permits", for $30 each and Travis rented a pair of chaps, for $5. (There are safety requirements for using a chainsaw which include: bucking pants (or chaps), safety glasses and safe footwear. If you don't have this equipment, you can't cut.)
We were told where to go, which was only another half a kilometer into the clear cut. We stopped beside the road and surveyed the wood. All of the undesirable timber had been dragged and placed along side the road. Only a ditch separated us from a 10-foot wall of strewn timber of various sizes.
Some of the logs were very big (2 feet diameter), some very small (3 inches diameter) and everything else in-between. Some of the longer, straight Cedar logs had been painted "no cutting". "These," it was explained, "will be cut by on-site 'Alaska mills' and the timber used to make benches and deck material.
The "U-Cut" site is actually operated by Nanaimo Fish and Game Club. Island Timberlands donates the wood and opens up their lands, but the $30 we paid goes to support the Fish and Game Club (they, in-turn, support a variety of other, local clubs, citizens and worthy causes, as well as their own club).
The skys were overcast when we started cutting. As I didn't have chaps, Travis began with his chainsaw, cutting up wood, which I then lobbed into (and out of) the ditch, splitting it with a maul (and wedge, if needed), then loaded it into either his truck or mine.
Travis' chain wasn't sharpened very well, so I put on the chaps and we switched off. I had just sharpened my Husqvarna chainsaw blade the night before, so I was ready to saw up some wood!
At first, we were enviously eying others having 2-foot saw blades, as some of the timber was quite large. In the end, however, we realized that (a) my little 16" blade could cut through 2-foot diameter logs (with a bit of finesse) and (b) splitting such large, green rounds was a LOT of work! (We cut rounds that were so heavy, we could barely move them ... need we cut larger? We don't think so!) Instead, we think it's best to concentrate on foot-sized logs, which can easily be quartered. (We buried our only wedge into a number of large rounds, having to resort to creative methods to extricate it).
When it came time to swop cutting/bucking chores, Travis went to put on his brand new chain, only to realize that it was too large for his chainsaw. So, for the rest of the day, it was up to Scott and his trusty Husqvarna to do all of the cutting.
Around 10:30, the sun broke through and it began to warm up. I'd brought 2 quarts of refreshment and drank every drop, wishing that I'd brought more. For some reason, working with a chainsaw is sweat-dripping work (it's probably tied to the fact that it's such a dangerous activity, so one has to remain attentive and alert).
It was hard, hot, dirty work! At one point, Scott said to Travis, "Hey, this isn't a bad deal! We pay $30 and get a cord of fire wood. Not only that, but it's like a free membership to a gym too!"
Dog tired, we finally finished around noon and we were stacked to the gills with as much wood as our trucks would hold. We bid our nearby wood-cutting mates adieu and lumbered back home with part of our year's supply of wood.
Notes to Self: For the Next Time
My truck bed is roughly 6.5-feet wide by 8-feet long by 20-inches tall. Filled to the top of the bed, that is roughly 86 cubic feet. A cord of wood is 4-feet by 4-feet by 8-feet. In order to haul a cord, one has to haul a bed and a half of wood, which we did, by wedging in some planks along the side of the bed.
Make some simple side rails - (3)2x4 stakes and (3) 1x4 slats for each side of the truck.
Buy some chaps at Ono. Though $5 is a cheap rental price, it'd be a good idea to have a pair and use them at home (cheap insurance / safety).
Take more water (and take food) - Cutting is hard work and I was starting to cramp up. Better to stay hydrated and fed, as it will reduce fatigue (which is when you can make a BIG mistake with the chainsaw, when you're tired)
More than one wedge - In case one (or more) get stuck.
Take a couple extra sharpened chainsaw chains - It's easier to change a chain, than try to sharpen it in the field.
Consider buying a peavey - To position, hold, move or turn logs.