Thursday, January 28, 2021

Cutting firewood is too much work

My ever-cheerful bride was sitting in her favorite rocking chair in front of the fireplace nibbling on a thimbleful of double-butter popcorn when she exclaimed "Fires are beautiful! We should have them more often."

I shook my head and said "Cutting firewood is too danged much work."

Then she committed the ultimate heresy "We could always buy it."

As if I would pay money for something I can collect for free?

The last time...

The last time I cut firewood at the hunting lease I had carefully loaded up the back of the Silverado with everything I thought I would need, then I added a bunch more stuff.

Driving back on the hunting-lease I spotted a dead ash tree that had partially blown over.

I shook that tree and cussed at that tree and shook it some more. 

In spite of my efforts the branches of the silver maple it was lodged in still embraced it as tightly as two homely kids slow-dancing Stairway to Heaven at the end of the high school dance.

God gave men brains so we are not doomed to passively accept our fates.

I had a chainsaw, how hard could it be to cut a chunk and then push it over?

The key point here is that the ash tree had been one of the first to topple because its roots had rotted. The roots had rotted because the tree had been growing in muck soil which never dries out. That muck soil was still soft and damp beneath the four inches of snow.

Each time I cut a chunk off the ash truck the remaining length drove down into the muck like an eight-hundred pound Jart.

Eventually, the truck was vertical, and then past vertical and I was able to push it away from the silver maple.

The portion that I had pushed away was easy to cut up.

The chunks that had been driven down into the ground were another story. By squatting down and hugging each chunk I was able to laboriously wobble, cuss and unscrew each piece out of the ground.

In my excitement to get the tree on the ground, I had been less-than-careful about marking off precise, 15 inch lengths. The fact that six inches of each piece was jammed into the ground was an exacerbating factor. Our firebox will take 19" lengths if you lay them diagonally but these piece were averaged 24".

No matter, they were about 60 pounds each and I didn't fancy lugging them to the truck so I cut each of those 24" lengths in half.

That tree pretty much filled the back of the truck.

Which was parked on muck soil.

Which was not frozen beneath the snow.

The Silverado is two-wheel-drive.

The heck if I was going to unload the truck! There was a tractor in the barn.

A tractor with a leaky carburetor.

And no gas in the can.

I lugged the can and a length of hose the quarter-mile back out into the swamp and siphoned a couple of gallons out of the Silverado.

I poured it into the gas tank of the tractor waited a couple of minutes for the bowl of the carburetor to fill and hit the starter button. Nothing!

This time I took a sled with me. I pulled the battery out of the Silverado. Somehow my tools weren't where they were supposed to be but I found a rusty pair of Vice-grips and made it work. Then I dragged the sled and battery back to the tractor and swapped batteries.

I really shouldn't have taken the shortcut through the swamp. The tractor didn't have floation tires.

I got soak wading to solid ground.

I pulled the chainsaw out and cut an eight foot pole. Fortunately I had some logging chains and was able to lash the pole to the back wheels of the tractor and inch it back to solid ground.

I pulled the Silverado out of the muck.

Put the tractor back in the barn.

Swapped batteries back and drove home with the heater on full-blast.


My bride offered to help cut wood.

I took her up on it. It was time for her to see how much work is involved in cutting firewood.

We were not even to the driveway of the hunting-lease when she pointed out the window and suggested "Why don't we cut up that one?"

The perfectly straight ash log was 6' off the road-grade and the stubs of its branches had it suspended 24" off the ground.

That is the problem with wimmins. No sense of adventure.

(Mrs ERJ's note: God gave women brains so our men are not doomed)


  1. You just proved the first corollary to Murphy's Law: No job/task/project can be completed until 3 others have been started and completed. 1=3=9=.....
    But I've never done this! ;-)

  2. That Ash leaning into the Silver Maple.. that would be what we would call a "widowmaker" where I'm from.

    As I look out at the woods behind my house, I can see several of those. Occasionally, the wind will finish knocking them down, usually in the middle of the night.

  3. You are a very talented guy, but I doubt if firewood production would be a profitable venture for you. ---ken

  4. I cut two cords of Oak per year, felling with a axe and bucking into rounds with a 42" crosscut saw. Hauling it out of the woods in a wheelbarrow and splitting the rounds with a maul is the hardest part. Thinking about a chainsaw and a garden tractor with a trailer.


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