Living off the grid
by Tish Newlin
(Santa Barbara CA USA)
We have a one room log cabin in the woods of north-west Montana. It's a twenty minute drive on an unpaved road to the nearest neighbours and town. We cut our own firewood and stack it for the wood stove there. I use a twelve pound sledge hammer and two wedges, my husband uses a one-piece cast maul.
The wood is mixed, so some is dense and some is light and softer. So we burn it mixed, too, unlike the locals who stay for the winter and burn only larch, or tamarack it's called in eastern states. We don't have a snowmobile so we don't stay for the winter.
I noticed that most folks have two years worth of wood stacked, one they cut this year for next year and the older pile for now. Is that right? Should the wood age just one year?
Down here in southern California we use our wood stove here for heating the house, and if the power goes out I can cook on it, too, as we do at the cabin.
My wood supply here is also mixed wood. Eucalyptus burns quiet and clean, it's very dense and difficult to split especially when dry. We also
have oak and other shrubby types of wood like pittosporum and myoporum. I accept wood from people who need to get rid of it, even old lumber from taken down buildings. I have never purchased firewood. Big stumps were the most challenging for me to split. I'm a senior so I have to be careful what I try to do. I'm used to very hard work, but as I age there are more limitations.
I realize it's not advisable to stack our firewood under the porch, but that's what we do, and it invites those pretty but naughty wood rats, or pack rats. There nests are HUGE. We set traps for them, poor things. Rats aren't supposed to be so pretty.
That's part of my story.