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Matt also spends quite a bit of time cutting firewood to heat his old farmhouse during the winter.

The wood pile controversy is heating up

When we first moved to our current home out in the country, the winters were cold and the propane bills were very high, even though we kept the thermostat set in the low 60s. We decided we had to do something about the heating situation, and decided to get an outdoor wood burner.

Since then, the wood burner (and the necessary wood pile) has been the source of some marital disagreement. Kristin does not like the wood burner, the firewood or the act of filling the wood burner with wood, but she loves the warm house. She has even threatened to put out a jar to collect a dollar for anytime I mention the words “firewood,” “pile” or “wood burner.”

Meanwhile, I take great delight in trying to outdo my previous wood pile performance every year. This year, going into winter, I have between 4 and 5 cords stacked up in front of the garage, which should last at least half the winter. I really impressed myself, though my wife does not seem to share my enthusiasm for the sizable stack of wood I have accumulated.

Wood pile2The kids are impressed, though. They have “helped” quite a bit in stacking the wood. My four-year-old son especially loves to help. He will fill up his little wheel barrow and work right along side of me hauling wood in four-year-old sized loads.

I recently asked him: “What do you want to do when you get big?”

“I want to cut firewood with you daddy,” he said.

It appears that my wife may have to learn to love wood piles.

No matter how you feel about large stacks of firewood, it is hard to deny that there is an intrinsic appeal to a winter day in the woods toiling to keep your family warm. It seems to me that if more people understood the effort, hardship and simple rewards of heating homes with wood (that so many relied upon in previous generations), the beneficial impacts on society would pile up to address some of the problems of today. On one hand, our easy food, heat and lifestyles are unbelievable accomplishments for mankind. But what are we losing in our society of convenience?

The frost in the ground, a chill in the air,

A winter woods has a way of erasing your cares.

Especially with the laborious task to perform,

Of cutting up firewood to keep your house warm.

A flash of a songbird, a worn down deer trail,

A layer of ice over a woodland swale,

Hard work, sweat, muscles get sore,

With the resulting warmth well worth the chore,

Hardwood and fire and smoke and a saw,

The rustle of oak leaves that have yet to fall —

They’ve all been replaced with a thermostat on the wall.

We’ve gained so much convenience, but what have we lost?

There is a gain, but at what cost?

Can electricity or propane and technology,

Replace the good of a day spent among trees?

In the end, are we really ahead,

With fast food, email and store bought bread?

It is easy to turn up the heat and just write a check,

But sometimes I wonder if easy is best.

We have choices now to do what we would,

Yet hard work, labor and challenge are good,

So as for me, I’ll be out in the woods.


Cutting firewood to heat your house is certainly not easy. And, in the time I am cutting firewood I could be doing something else productive. But, what productive activities are we really doing with all of the free time we have these days? It seems that free time most often translates into and increasing focus on self indulgence, wasted resources and unproductive time for many (including me).

So, to do you a favor, I am gladly accepting any split firewood deliveries this winter. You can even stack it if you like. Then, as my wood pile grows, I can blame this “problem” on somebody else. If you’re lucky, my wife won’t even make you put a dollar in the jar.



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One comment

  1. We never got your magazine before our daughter seen your article about the wood pile controversy and it reminded her of her Dad who will be 80 yrs. old in two weeks and goes to the woods every day and cuts a load of wood. We heat our whole house with a wood fireplace. He really enjoyed your article. Thanks for writing it. Duane & Bonnie Baldwin

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