Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Wood 'n It Be Loverly

JG got the furnace going last night and I am finally thawing out. I've been freezing my bumpf off for the last week and complaining all over Facebook. You see, we have a big, open concept bungalow with a great room. This room has a 15' ceiling and a wall of windows. In the spring and the fall we heat with two wood stoves, one in the great room and one in the TV and computer room below it and use an updraught ceiling fan to move the warm air around. This works well when the sun warms the front of the house up in the middle of the day. But. Once the temperature drops below freezing, the middle of the house where the chimney wall is located stays warm but the peripheries are cold. Very cold if the wind is blowing. Well, it is the middle of November and we have snow and the wind is blowing and I have been cold for the last week.

So, why didn't I just complain to the man and say 'Put the [censored] furnace on, already'? Well, because. I have a love/hate relationship with the furnace. It is a forced air, wood burning unit and I can hardly lift the chunks of wood that work best in it, let alone place them 'gently' on the coals so that the fire brick doesn't crack. I hate stacking the furnace wood too. The stoves, on the other hand, take small enough pieces that I can work with them fairly easily. But because the wood is finer, the stoves have to be tended much more frequently than the furnace and if I am working in the office on the computer I am warm, with two printers and the hard drive running, and tend to forget to load them often enough.

JG loves wood. He loves cutting down ugly trees, hauling the logs out of the bush with the winch, stacking them with a special clamp he has made for the hydraulic lift on the tractor, cutting them to size with one of his six chainsaws, splitting, stacking, moving, restacking, leaving to dry, moving, restacking. Well, I am not so sure he loves the moving bit. He tries to co-opt the family when he can. He and two equally nutty friends have a massive cull of the bush in the fall -- they cut, he hauls and stacks the logs. A huge pile of drying split wood fills his heart with joy. I, on the other hand, put on a wrist brace and trudge off to stack furnace wood with no pleasure at all. Luckily what the friends want is stove wood and so I don't have to do more that a few bush cords of furnace size.

We have three hundred acres of scrub bush, less the two acres open around the house and the beaver ponds. It is run as what Ontario calls a 'managed forest plan'. This works out to getting a tax break if there is a plan in place to improve and maintain the forest. Key to this is doing 'improvement' cuts; identifying trees that are not thriving, cutting them to open up the forest canopy and using the wood. The wood and lumber (JG also has a sawmill) that we sell off the place is 'Certified' -- if you are interested in sustainability, look for an FSC stamp on wood products that you buy. As well as managing the trees, we also maintain trails, wildlife habitat, we plant valuable species like oak or butternut, we keep an inventory of plants, especially species at risk, and remove invasive species like garlic mustard. JG, who is an engineer by trade, has taught himself to do all this.

His remedy for being cold is to forge off into the bush and work to keep warm. Mine, to put on a sweater and add wood to the fire. By the time we let the furnace go out my wrists will have strengthened enough to make stacking furnace wood less of a problem. And if we leave it too long, it will be May and I will be sweating buckets and whining on Facebook about the heat.


  1. I would love to come and sit in that living room and have a cup of tea with you while we look out those great, huge windows at your forest.

    I do believe JG is an artist. That woodpile is reminiscent of Andy Goldsworthy's work. ( )

  2. Good heavens! You, my dear, are "roughing it!" I just crab and bitch and then Rick sighs and turns up the thermostat. Or, sometimes I grab a glass of tawny port and head into a hot bath for about an hour. (And often, I wax poetic about FLEECE!)

  3. Fantatic living room...

    and I'm with you, all about the warm sweater next to a cozy fire.

  4. The use and management of wood is fascinating!

    My son would LOVE it... he doesn't remember snow and would like riding around collecting wood to be heaven on earth. (He also can sing a great rendition of 'Loverly' -- I take my duty of making sure the kids are well versed in the classics very seriously!)