Posts Tagged ‘Splitting firewood’

Splitting hickory

My farm is in Kentucky, but I’m a Colorado native.  A lifetime ago, when I was in my early twenties, I lived and worked year-round in the northern foothills of the Colorado Front Range,  where the snow that comes in October doesn’t stay until April, but the cold sets in for the season and can be serious.  I cooked on a wood cookstove back then, so firewood was a way of life, all twelve months of the year.  In winter it became even more important, as it also provided our only heat.

I’m no stranger to the task of laying up a supply of firewood for winter.  Felling whole trees, cutting them to stove length, and splitting the logs into burnable chunks – these are familiar skills, though I’ve not used them for many years.  (We bought a cord of split firewood every winter in San Diego for the fireplace, but the only work of that was loading and unloading and stacking.)  So I’m pleased to report, I can still swing a splitting maul well enough to reduce a whole log into halves, then quarters, and so on.  A very necessary skill here.

There is really nothing quite like the satisfaction of driving a splitting maul into the top of a 14″ log and splitting it in half in one clean stroke.  Starting a clean split, as in the photo above, that can be finished with a sledge hammer pounding the splitting maul through, ranks a close second.  It takes a certain amount of force and technique, there’s no doubt.  One has to swing the maul with every intent of cleaving the log; head speed is critical.  And aim is even more so.  But when the two collide with wood grain ready to break apart, it’s a beautiful thing.

There are easier ways to split firewood.  I can borrow a wood splitter from friends and probably will, soon.  But it is good to know I still have the skill and strength to turn a tree into firewood, by hand, in a couple of afternoons with the right tools.

This first winter at the farm is my first real winter in 25 years, and I am late in all my preparations.  I’d rather not be splitting firewood in December for this year’s fires.  Glad, though, that I’m able to.


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