Saturday, January 17, 2009

You Can't Split Frozen Wood

This fall I decided to turn some dead trees (mostly pine) into firewood for winter.

The tree was cut down and cut into portable sections.  The sections where then trucked up to a cutting and chopping station right next to the deck.  

Each trunk section was cut into logs that would fit into the wood stove.  If the log was more then about 4 inches thick it was chopped.  

The ready-to-burn wood was pilled onto the covered deck.  This way it would be easily accessable even if it was snowing.  

The whole operation went smoothly until it started getting really cold at night.  Suddenly, instead of hearing a loud CRACK!!! when I brough the maul down on the end of a log, I'd just get a dull thud.

That's how I discovered that you can't split frozen wood.  We recently had a warm spell, and I was curious if I could once again the logs I had prepared for that step.

What I discoved was that I could split smaller logs, and larger logs as long as I avoided the still frozen core.  Here's a couple of pictures of a log that I could split about 4 inches in.  The inner core was still frozen and would not split.

You can see how the maul blade would just dig into the frozen core without creating a split like it's supposed to.  You can also see the section that split off.  The split would follow a tree ring at the edge of the frozen core. That way, I ended up taking a slice out of the log.

Moral of the story:  Don't try to split frozen wood.  You may have to wait for a few days, or even a week, of above freezing temperatures for the wood to "melt."  Then you can split it.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Blowing Snow Closes Mountain Schools

It's been quite windy of late.  In fact, the below freezing temperatures and high winds (gusting to near huricane strengths) has been hard on the trees.  At about the half mile mark on Lazy Z, I saw one live tree pulled up by the roots.  Another tree had the top 20 feet snapped of.

Today there is a light snow with the wind.  This creates large swirling clouds of snow and near whiteout conditions.  I heard that this even caused the closing of mountain area schools around here.

Fortunetly, I recently cut down some trees from the forest below the house.  I've cut, chopped and stacked them on the deck.  It's enough to keep us nice and tosty warm.  Aside from a little work, they did not cost me anything, so I don't mind cranking the heat up a bit.