Everything Has A By-Product

Reduce, Re-Use and Recycle is a slogan that has been around for a long time. On the farm we take it to heart and try to not let anything go to waste. We use the manure from the barns for fertilizer to enhance our fields and garden, broken equipment that cannot be used for parts goes to metal recycle, and the extra limbs, tops and broken logs become the firewood we use to heat the house.

A man is chopping firewood next to some logs.The process of decking the logs in the landing for easy access to be loaded by a log truck is a messy process. There are lots of board feet that are not ship-able for market.

Parts of logs that are not viable candidates for timber are chopped into small enough pieces for firewood and stacked to dry along the fence line of the pasture.

Once the hayfield has been harvested the stacks of wood will be hauled to the house so it can be re-stacked near the outdoor furnace for heat throughout the winter.

Keeping the landing clean of the debris makes it a safer place for decking and hauling logs while beginning to get a start on the 12-20 cord of firewood that we need for heat each year.

A Little Leverage

One of the handy tools that I use when working on the firewood is a Peavey.

A tool used to manually move logs.It has a wooden handle that is about three times thicker than a good shovel handle and at the top is a metal point and a swivel hook.

The point and hook are jammed into a log and the leverage allows for a human to roll a log that is several hundred pounds heavier than themselves. I also use it on blocks of wood that are too big to move by pushing so they get to a flat spot to be split.

A grapple tool used to manually move logs.The handy tool doesn’t take the manual labor out of the firewood making job, but it does make it easier.

With the help of this Peavey, the pile of slash that I was cleaning up and making into firewood is down to just a few Gator loads of wood (also, my right-hand-helper did a lot of the work!)

Pile of Wood

Last years slash pile left over from logging is slowly dwindling as the firewood pile is growing, but it is a lot of hard work.

This pile has to be completely cut, split and hauled away before the fall rains come and leave this pile under water.

Anyone looking for a fun filled few days of enjoyment are welcome out to the farm for a little R&R (wReck & Ruin).


Not As Pretty As Last Year

The wood stack is not the nice, tidy stack that was the result of that big old white fir that was formed with all the split pieces that fit together in one huge square pile.

This year the stack is more of a mish-mash of remnants from the logging. All the limbs, tops and crooked butt pieces make up the majority of the wood pile this year. The pieces are oddly shaped, some are short while others are long, many taper to a splintered point or are fractured and ready to split into several pieces if dropped.

Large stack of wood for winter.It is a good thing the wood-fired boiler we use to heat the house and domestic water has a large door to fit all the crazy shapes. The firebox is big enough to take a hunk of wood 3 feet long. When stacking firewood, the statement ‘If you can lift it, it will fit’ rings true. It’s just that I can’t keep a fire going with only big wood. One grunt piece (makes me grunt when I pick it up) needs to have smaller pieces packed in around it to keep the boiler and me happy through long winter nights.

By using the slash (discarded wood pieces from logging), I am able to clean up the landing and salvage what would be just left to rot. Many years ago I had deemed myself ‘salvage reclamation specialist’ it is a job that creates a lot a security for me. It is not a job that is fought over.

With all the tree damage we had last winter, the windstorm and the subsequent cleanup with harvesting,  the backlog of work will keep me busy for several years. Oh the joy of job security!

The Big Red Beast

She may not be very pretty to look at, and I’m afraid if I actually washed her and cleaned off all the dirt, she may just fall apart all together. She is our big, old farm truck.

Continue reading

Spring Cleanup

After a winter in the Pacific Northwest, cleanup begins in earnest. Some of the alder trees located along the riparian zone of the Nehalem River are beyond their prime years. We have been noticing the increasing decline as we clean up rotting limbs and upturned root balls. These trees are important to the waterway by keeping the water cool enough for the native salmon, trout, and other amphibians that live in the river. We are in the process of replanting areas along the river with diverse trees and shrubs natural to the area to replace the dead and dying alders.

In an effort to keep the pasture areas free of debris, the larger pieces of wood are cut and hauled up to the house. The wood is not good enough to sell. But it is nice to burn in the wood boiler to take the chill off on the cool spring mornings. Any limbs and smaller pieces are picked up from the pasture and put around the vegetation in the riparian zone where it will naturally decompose and compost to feed the vegetation.