People actually ask about my wood. I know, it sounds like some reverse come on. But really, folks hear that we heat our house with firewood and they pause to wonder if we have indoor plumbing. Yes we do, but if you still feel that a country farm visit would be lacking the je ne sais qua without relieving yourself in the woods, well then, we can supply you with a shovel and point you in the right direction.
My Main Man (M3) doesn’t enjoy chainsaw work. And firewood hunting and gathering, while a manly endeavor, is one of those chores that can leave you badly injured if you have a chainsaw accident. So, we buy from a local family each year. We prefer to get a mix of pinon, pine, cedar, and oak. The firewood arrives in the back of a pickup and is tossed into piles, which I then stack while M3 is at work. He then feels that my symmetry was off and spends half a day restacking it. Hmm….well, he is burning calories and he often removes his shirt for this task, so I won’t be complaining ;).
Cedar makes great kindling and starter wood for a fire. Pine is also nice, but doesn’t burn as hot as pinon and oak. Oak is way denser (and you definitely notice that after stacking a cord of it) and is great for piling on just before you tuck into bed as it will burn for several hours into the night, keeping the place warm. You can also burn cottonwood, which we do on occasion, though it is way harder to split than some of these other woods. We have burned elm too. Chinese elm sprouts up like a weed here and mostly we try to trim it back and feed it to the goats long before it gets large enough to be worthy of the fireplace. Some people find the smell of burning elm to be an irritant and they will sneeze all day as the burning elm heats the house. My mom suffers from this and won’t burn elm in her fireplace. It also creates a lot of ash, while other woods work just as well without creating the same amount of ash.
Lastly, let me tell you about sap-laden pine. Or, really, any wood that has more sap that usual. The local word for this is trementina. This makes excellent kindling to start a fire, splintering off little bits. However, if you put in a whole piece of it (as pictured here) you run the risk of burning your house down as it will burn so hot it may escape the confines of the fireplace, melting bits you don’t want melted. So, we always set these sap-laden logs aside so they won’t get confused with the regular firewood in the dark, snow, sleet, or on sleepy-eyed mornings.