Monday, November 1, 2010

How much wood is enough wood?

I once used a chainsaw... And that one time was enough for me to realize that I never want to use one again. Intense vibration, loud noise and the looming idea in the back of my head that I might lope off an arm was all too much for me handle. Now give me an axe...and that's a different story! The rhythm of chopping with an axe combined with the gratification to look at your work and think to yourself "I did that,all on my own!" is quite satisfying!

Believe it or not, part of my college courses involved learning the proper techniques to use both a chainsaw and axe! While studying Ecological Technology at Vanier College I lived at a Field Station about one hour from Montreal. While living there our team of 16 individuals did everything from lake surveys, birding banding, small mammal trapping to chopping down dead trees! I can still remember the shock on the faces of my friends and family when I would return home each weekend and say things like "This week I chopped down trees!" Although I was excited to share my accomplishments I clearly thought that I would NEVER need to use my chopping skills again. That was until I moved to the interior of Yellowstone!

For the last three weeks Shane and I (well, mostly Shane) have been collecting wood. Actually, Shane is collecting TREES and I am collecting TWIGS to give you a size comparison! Our yard has been an ever growing pile of trees and twigs and the bigger it got the more daunting the task of "wood chopping" seemed. But with an storm brewing to the west of us it was evident that this weekend would officially go down in the books as "The Weekend of Wood Chopping"!

Some people might imagine wood chopping as a small task- chopping just enough to make the house feel cozy on snowy nights. For us this was rather a matter of survival. Our goal this winter is to heat our 2 story, 4 bed, 2 bath house solely using our wood stove. Now we do have electric heat should we need it however there is some motivation involved in this story. Rent for our cozy government house includes the cost of an average electric bill. If we use more heat than the average we of course have to pay for it. On the flip side if we do not use the electric heat we will get money back. Now exactly how much money is worth chopping wood ALL weekend? Well, upwards of $1600! That's enough motivation for me!

Having never done this before it is hard to determine just how much wood we'll need. Our neighbors have the exact same house as us however they have enough wood to heat every home in Montana for one year! Such over-achievers.

After two straight days of chainsaws & axes followed by wood stacking we now have three 8 foot by 16 foot walls of neatly stacked wood, along with 5 boxes of kindling. Oh and I almost forgot we]]I also have very sore muscles...from my thighs, to my arms and even my hands!!

By the evening of day two when I was just about "done" with this long tedious weekend the sky turned a bright orangy pink as the sun set behind the Lodgepole Pines trees. The view was amazing and it was a pleasant ending to a long hard weekend. The next day, despite my sore muscles, I proudly admired my well stacked rows of wood as the second winter snow storm of the season blew in.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Bri & Shane,
    Impressive! That is a lot of wood I'm seeing in the picture. What an incredible amount of hard work even with that great incentive. Well you both deserve that vacation so enjoy and please Rest! I do remember you Field Station stories how far you both have come from those college days! Love Mom
    have a great vacation