January is What Else? Cutting Firewood

I heat our house by burning wood. We have done this for the past 33 years and I do not intend to stop anytime soon. It is work but it is satisfying. The wood comes from the farm on which we live or else from neighbors farms who happen to also be relatives on my wife’s side of the family.

Above is the field I will cross to get back to the woods. At this time of year it is essential the ground is frozen. The temperature today is about 20 degrees. Even at that temperature the bright sun can begin to thaw the surface after several hours.

All of the wood I burn is dead wood. That is trees that have died for one reason or another. In the 1960s or so Dutch Elm disease began killing the American elms in this part of the country. I have cut hundreds of dead elm trees for firewood. Occasionally, I might run across some other type of wood, most often, what is called red elm around here. This tree was also killed by Dutch elm disease but they are not as plentiful as the American elm.

Above is a pic of two types of wood. The yellow wood is Osage Orange. The other is red elm. The Osage Orange is a very dense wood. It was imported into this part of the country maybe a hundred years or so to be grown for fence posts. There are still posts in the ground after a hundred years that would require a tractor to pull them out. I don’t cut much of this wood because I do not run across much of it that is dead. Today this one small branch was in the way so I cut it up.

You need a good reliable chaninsaw to cut firewood with. The Husqvarna pictured above has served me well for the past three years. I have worn out a good number of saws over the years. If you buy one don’t just get a cheap one. Get one that is worth the money. And, by no means, do not put gasoline in it that contains alcohol.
We have two antique wood stoves in our house. The one tall one is the main heat source for the house. It sits in the dining room and is a Round Oak brand. I burned out another Round Oak that lasted us about 30 years or so. We have had this one for the last 3 years or so. I bought it at a farm auction for 35 dollars. The walls surrounding the stove are covered with three quarter inch thick granite that is backed with concrete board.
The other stove I also bought at an auction for about 50 dollars or so. It has eisenglass windows so you can see the fire. It is set into an old fireplace that became unusable because it had just deteriorated too much. It is probably original to the house which is about 150 years old. The stove pipe goes all the way up the chimney and out the top.

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Not everyone can burn wood. In fact, if we did the whole country would be deforested rather quickly. I feel lucky to be able to burn wood. It is something I like to be able to do and the comfort level in the winter is very pleasing. It has its drawbacks and the practice is not for everyone I am sure. It probably is one of the dirtier forms of heat, but, at least I have been able to maintain areas on the farm that do nothing but grow trees and shrubs that hopefully absorb some of the carbon released by burning wood. We have about 25 acres that grow trees in various stages of maturity with the majority being young trees.

It would be interesting to somehow determine how much carbon is absorbed each growing season by this growth. Burning wood is also releasing carbon that is recently taken out of the atmosphere. It is not like bringing up carbon from a bygone geologic period and introducing it into the atmosphere. Nonetheless, wood cutting is one of my major winter time activities. I do not mind the work but about March or so it becomes a labor and into April when it just is not quite warm enough in the evening without a fire. It is for these times I am working on solar projects to help alleviate some of the demand for fuel. More about those will be posted later.
RuGPT3: It would be interesting to somehow determine how much carbon is absorbed each growing season by this growth. Burning wood is also releasing carbon that is recently taken out of the atmosphere. It is not like bringing up carbon from a bygone geologic period and introducing it into the atmosphere. Nonetheless, wood cutting is one of my major winter time activities. I do not mind the work but about March or so it becomes a labor and into April when it just is not quite warm enough in the evening without a fire. It is for these times I am working on solar projects to help alleviate some of the demand for fuel. More about those will be posted later.

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Plans

There are plans to construct a 3-watt solar panel for the house (0.7 kW, one solar module). It is assumed that the upgrade also covers the existing units with the modules that were installed in the wainscoting.
The current solar installation (~ 1 kW) seems to be the best in terms of power, but I suspect the system may not be optimized for a large winter house. The system is composed of three modules which come with a solar panel (which is connected to a battery). Both the battery and the solar panel will be connected to the wing (2 x wings) that houses the present-day solar units. The basement location will be irregular so the direct solar systems will be located to the rear (2.5 x x 2 x 3.3 m). The irregulating factor can be adjusted during the year based on temperature, which makes it difficult to adjust in a month. The current SolarModules will be taken out on the trim houses and placed at the front of the core. The point is to make it easy to use and to reduce the cost. In terms of decorative value, the solar modules will use longitudinal cells (rated at 13400 watts) to convert the solar energy into electricity when it is available. There is a good chance that the current solar modulates will be converted to a module with a lower power output if the current system starts to fail.

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