Come back another day. I've had this little childhood rhyme running through my head for the last few days. It started raining the second week in May, just after we planted the majority of our garden. Three days ago we were blessed with sun for half the day. Today, Victoria Day, it is still raining and it has gotten cold enough to fire up the wood stove again.
Last year the wood stove was closed up by mid-April. This year has been a different story altogether. March this year was unseasonably warm as was April. April was also very dry. We didn't use the wood stove in April with the exception of one or two days when it was damp and cool later in the evening. We even congratulated ourselves on having enough wood set away for all of next winter, even if it turned out to be much harsher than this winter.
Today I took a restock of our wood pile and was dismayed to see that we are now a cord short of our minimum winter allotment. A cord of wood is measured by the full or face. A full cord is 4ft high by 4ft wide by 8ft long. A face cord is 4ft by 8ft by 14-16 inches, which is the length that most wood stoves and fireplaces can take easily.
Since Sparrow Haven isn't blessed with a large woodlot we have to order our wood in from people in the community who sell split firewood for a living during the fall months. There are several people in the area who cut and sell firewood, but our favorite by far has declared retirement this year due to health. So we will start making phone calls this week pre-ordering wood not only for this year but for next year as well.
Good firewood is a hardwood that has been allowed to dry by sun and air for a minimum of one year, two years being ideal. We prefer a cord of wood that is mixed Maple, Red Oak, Ash, and Birch. It burns well, providing a higher BTU per cord than the softer wood mixes of Pine, Spruce, Basswood, and Aspen. Most firewood is advertised as hardwood mixes but experience has taught us that some firewood providers will pull a fast one if given the chance, and make all kinds of excuses when caught red handed.
After one such incident last fall, we decided to be a little more proactive in our firewood acquisition. We will be keeping two winters supply on hand at all times. The oldest wood will be used for the current year and the newer wood stacked and rotated as needed to ensure proper curing. In general, we use 8 face cords of firewood each winter to heat our home and cook our food. That means that from Spring to Fall we have to collect and purchase as much as 16 cords of wood each year. Hopefully the future will see 20 or more acres of woodlot available so that we can cut and collect our own wood rather than purchasing it from local suppliers.