Tuesday, August 18, 2009

(Almost) Free Heat

Even though it's the hottest month of the year we are thinking about keeping warm. Before we know it the snow will once again fly. So, before it gets cold enough to the point we need to heat the house, we need to collect 5 to 6 cords of good firewood.
We used to purchase North Idaho Energy Logs which are like a giant version of the wood pellets one would run through a pellet stove. They were a good deal in comparison to running our electric forced-air furnace but in the last few years the price was driven up along with lumber prices during the building boom. Curiously though lumber prices have dropped the price of these logs has not.
Fortunately for us a couple years ago our neighbor had 50 acres of his land partially logged which left huge piles of downed trees that were deemed "unmarketable" by the logging company and left to be burned. Also, the logging equipment damaged some trees which eventually resulted in many "standing dead" timber. He was going to hire a crew to have all of this cleaned up and burned.
Maybe it was a little opportunistic of us but we suggested that he let us do the clean up and our pay will be the firewood we salvage. This will be our second year harvesting and in this slow economy it has been such a blessing to have access to all this firewood.
Like the title suggest, this wood heat is not exactly free. The material cost are obvious: chain saw oil, gasoline, the oil that is mixed in the fuel and this season a new chain for the saw. It is also very time consuming. Thank God we don't have to spend more than a couple minutes drive time to get there since it adjoins our property. It's takes around 4 hours to collect a 1/2 cord of cut wood if nothing goes wrong with the chainsaw
It is hard work to say the least. Greg cuts and I load the truck. Usually this involves me using a wheel barrow to get the wood to the truck so I can load it. Even Emma and Bentley are tired from playing in the woods by the time we finish a half days work.

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