The Firewood Detail

Flatted It

You start off with a pretty good idea of what should happen, but of course, there are no guarantees. Today it was one strange thing after another. Nothing catastrophic, just not quite what I had in mind.

Every summer I have a long list of chores that I have to do before winter. Getting firewood is a big one. As a matter of fact, it’s THE big one. It’s hard physical work, and it takes many long hours over the course of several days to go out on the woodcutting road and cut down trees, saw them into pieces small enough to either carry or drag to the truck, haul them home, throw the whole mess on the ground, and split and stack it. The sooner the better, too, because the wood needs time to dry before it will burn, and that takes several months.

Today was the day to get going on this firewood project. I rounded up the saw and the gas mix, the axe, the shovel (in case I got the truck stuck) and the come-a-long. I threw it all in the truck and headed out onto the woodcutting road. The woodcutting road is a logging road about a mile from my home. There are areas set aside for people who are getting firewood for their own personal use.

Near the turnoff to the woodcutting area at 7.5 mile, I saw a new trail in, and I figured I’d see what was down there. It started off pretty dry and clear, but it turned into a brushy gap winding through the trees in no time. I needed to find a spot to turn around, and nothing looked very promising. I tried backing into a little clearing near some decent-looking spruce trees, but I lost traction and almost got stuck sideways to the trail. After I got myself back square with the trail, I figured the best option was to back out the way I’d just come in. This meant having to drive rather assertively in reverse and try not to hit any trees or wander off the barely-there trail. Going backward, I ran over some big stuff hidden in the brush, stumps or something, and when I got out to the main woodcutting road, I noticed a warning light I’d never seen before lit up on my dashboard.

Ignoring the warning light, I drove on down to the turnoff at 7.5 mile, and followed it down, down into the woodcutting area. The road isn’t much of a road. It’s washed out and rutted for long stretches, and you have to hug one side and then the other to keep from sliding into one of the big ruts. I came to another side trail which went toward a nice stand of birch. I followed it up a hill and then along a level section, maybe about a quarter mile. There was a turnaround spot.

I got out to see if the trees would be worth cutting, and I heard a hissing sound coming from my right front tire. Damn! There was a stick poking out through a hole in the tire. Some stick! Rather than deal with changing the tire there in the woods where who knows what might go wrong and leave me stranded out there, I drove home on the leaking, hissing tire as fast as I could. Good thing I didn’t have far to go; I made it home while there was still air in the tire.

So my first day getting firewood this summer was a bust. I didn’t even run the saw. I hope I find a groove with it the next time, and actually make some progress, but it’s hard when so many things can go wrong. This experience was remarkably similar to teaching school, except that I didn’t have to tell anyone else what to do, and the evaluation was immediate and obvious. Considering all the variables involved in working with large groups of kids, we should be amazed if things ever go according to plan.

Firewood Detail

Fortunately I do have some firewood left over from last year, but I still need a good half-dozen truckloads.

4 responses to “The Firewood Detail

  1. craig nieminski

    I live in NORTHERN AUSTRALIA and when I’m out bush going down a new track I always wonder if I should have turned around there? Almost all of my tire troubles have come about trying to turn around and then letting the panic control the throttle.

  2. Yeah. Turning around is a bitch. Seems like every spot is a tight one when you don’t know where you’re going.

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