Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays’ take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘firewood

New Perch

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Cyndie took me shopping for a new recliner and we came home with a new perch to kick back in while watching the fire. Guess what I did every chance I got for the rest of the weekend?

It amounted to about 15 minutes total, but that was because I had a lunch date in St. Paul on Saturday, company for dinner in the evening, and was outside most of yesterday’s Second Sunday toiling in the nice sunshine, while Cyndie was hosting my niece, Liz, and three of her kids in an extravaganza of collage making and cookie baking.

I was able to join them in the labyrinth for a quick circuit while the kids covered about twice my distance after they had visited with the horses and chickens.

Time in the cozy new chair will come in the long nights ahead with winter precipitation sure to fall.

In the mean time, I’ll need to make sure we have enough firewood.

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Written by johnwhays

November 13, 2017 at 7:00 am

Stacking Wood

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I’m a little behind where I prefer to be with staging firewood for a year away, so today we took a hint from the snowy weather and gave the shed some overdue attention. First, we started by stocking the wood rack on our deck with this year’s firewood, which cleared out the last of the space on the left side of the wood shed.

That allowed me to put new pallets in for a floor where I had previously used wood blocks. After digging out the old blocks, and pulling similar ones off the new pallets, we hauled them down to the woods to use on our trail.

As far as projects go, these were pretty small steps, but accomplishing them provided a large psychological boost. It paves the way for me to focus exclusively on splitting and stacking firewood to fill the rest of the shed.

Achieving that is a goal I’d like to complete in November.

Somebody remind me in about a month that I wrote this here.

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Written by johnwhays

October 30, 2017 at 6:00 am

New Parts

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I decided to practice a little preventative maintenance on my log splitter and ordered spare parts before they completely failed. I had noticed that the nylon impact bushing was beginning to deform and one of the washers on the bottom spacer had already fractured.dscn5773e

In a quick search, I found that both of these parts were readily available to extend the life of the product, so I made the buy. In this picture, I’ve already installed the new parts and bagged the old ones, which I’ll store in the off-hand chance of future unexpected failure.

I saw in the review comments for the parts that some folks had the impact bushing fracture. It has helped me to be more aware of how my use of the splitter stresses these parts. I am less driven to pound away on a log that is obviously not giving in to the idea of my wanting it to split.

The temperature was just about to climb above freezing when I started yesterday and the frozen wood was snapping apart with minimum effort. I was thinking I should get Cyndie to record a video to demonstrate how slick this tool is. I’m glad I didn’t, because no sooner than having that thought did my luck swing and the wood changed to stringier oak. I also came to a few Y-shaped pieces. These reveal the amazing strength at that junction which allows branches to support such incredible amounts of weight in big old trees.

You need to pick your angles carefully to convince the wood to separate at the junctions where branches Y off.

When a log is particularly resistant to the intrusion of the Smart Splitter wedge, I employ the added incentive of the orange twisting wedge and some pounding with the traditional splitting maul. It makes for a lot more effort, but I surprise myself by the eventual success I’ve been able to achieve in the face of some pieces that look like they would require the power of a machine.

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I had a nice session of progress, saving a couple of the bigger challenges for later, since my energy had declined as morning turned to afternoon and it was time for some lunch. Later, on my way to another task, I stopped to muscle the last two challenges.

I have incentive to get our current piles of wood split and stacked in the shed. This coming Thursday and Friday is our appointment for the tree trimmers to come cut high branches from our old trees. I’ve instructed them to focus solely on dropping branches that are out of my reach.

I will cut and split, or shred with the chipper, all the wood that comes to the ground so they don’t end up wasting any precious time (or our limited funds) on something I can do later. I think that cleanup project has the capacity to become an ongoing chore that will last me for the rest of the year.

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Written by johnwhays

February 11, 2017 at 10:42 am

Wood Speaks

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Sometimes, wood speaks to me, but I don’t always know what it says. I can’t say that I’ve ever heard words from a piece of wood. It’s more of a mysterious attraction to the visual. This piece has me wondering what it would look like smoothed.

DSCN4470eI have envisioned it both completely flat or smoothed with contours. I think contours is going to win, because there’s already too much material missing to sand it flat and still have much of the branch left. The branch is really the key element that makes this special.

Imagine how complicated it can be to stack firewood when every other piece seems to grab my attention for its potential to be beautiful in some form other than burning flames.

Luckily, I receive great pleasure from the visual presentation of stacked firewood, too, so it makes it a little easier for me to leave the split logs on the pile where they belong. That just leaves a chosen few that occasionally get pulled for more permanent duty.

I decided to take a picture of this one for reference, and now having posted here, I guess as incentive. I make no secret of my difficulty with finishing art projects that I start. It’s rather curious that my inspiration to become engaged with this new piece would occur so soon after discovering a handful of others in a box that had sat unopened since we moved here 3 years ago.

Why haven’t I become fixated on finishing the others, instead?

I don’t know. It’s something ripe for analysis, I suppose. I wouldn’t have to dig too deep to discover an issue with perfectionism and a fear of failure, I’m sure. Being unfinished, their imperfections are judged differently. Being unfinished, they still hold the potential to become even more beautiful than they already are.

Or it could simply be that I am wanting to improve my techniques and tooling, and hone my finishing skills to a point I will feel more prepared to take those unfinished pieces the rest of the way to completion, in both aesthetics and function.

Yeah. That’s why I’m starting another new project. It’s for practice. That’s it.

I’ll chronicle the progress for you here, so I have added incentive to actually make progress.

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Written by johnwhays

February 21, 2016 at 9:03 am

Passing Middle

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As long as I am writing about calendar days, it occurs to me that, not only are we passing the middle of the month of January, we are essentially heading into the second half of our long winter.

DSCN4365eThere are several ways that I can gauge this. We have almost devoured the first full rack of firewood that we stacked on the deck.

We are about halfway through the hay stored in our hay shed.

We have filled just over half the space where we store composting manure during the cold months.

In terms of weather, this weekend we are due to receive the coldest blast of Arctic air of the winter. There are warnings posted about dangerous wind chills on Sunday through Monday morning.

After we get through this, it is expected to warm up to El Niño-driven-warmer-than-usual temperatures for this time of year. I’m okay with that. Even if I live a long and healthy life, by conventional standards, it is reasonable to think that I am past the middle of my years on this planet. I am growing more satisfied with mild weather than I was in my younger days.

I checked the level of propane in our big tank yesterday, to make sure we don’t need to order more yet. It is less than half full, but there is enough to get through the winter at the rate we use it.

I have a sense of being on the downhill side of things, which provides an impression things should be easier. We get to coast.

CC-winter-hardiness-zones-Twin-Cities-2015-768x491Could it be that we are even passing the middle of a change in our climate? Thinking about the coldest possible temperature of the winter reminded me of the remarkable graphic posted by Paul Huttner in his weather blog, “Updraft.”

Look at the trend line of the oscillating minimum temperatures recorded in the Twin Cities in my lifetime. If this keeps going, I could live during a year when temperatures here don’t even dip below zero.

That would seem like coasting through a winter.

In my advancing years, I think I will enjoy the ride. In the mean time, bring on today’s deep freeze.

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Written by johnwhays

January 16, 2016 at 9:00 am

Fires Return

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DSCN4193eOur chimney is fixed! What joy! But I don’t see how Santa is ever going to fit down it now.

It was back in the middle of October when we had our fireplace and chimney inspected, which I wrote about at the time in a post titled, “Important Inspection.”

They discovered evidence of there having been a chimney fire sometime in the past, which resulted in cracking of the original clay tiles lining the chimney.

Never fear, that company just so happens to also install chimney liners, for a (not so) small fee. At least they provide clear photographic evidence of the areas of concern, which our insurance company accepted without hesitation. Our repairs were covered in full, after we pay the (not so small) deductible amount on our policy.

DSCN4194eThis project benefited from the wonderful luck of the original chimney dimensions being large enough to make it one of the easiest installations possible, according to the guys.

They installed sections of stainless steel tubing inside the old clay tiles from the top of the chimney and didn’t need to break out any of the existing structure to complete the job.

A cement rated for high temperature is also used around the outside of the tube. Everything gets sealed and then checked for leaks. When they finished our installation, one of the guys burned some paper in the fireplace to verify the draft was good, and that was that.

It was instantly available for use. That meant I needed to haul some wood!

Cyndie and I filled the rack on the deck with one fully-stacked row of split logs from the wood shed. I had mixed emotions about the excitement of finally making use of wood that has been drying for a full year, and comical distress over seeing the stores in the wood shed decline at such a rapid rate.

DSCN4196eI also found myself surprised over how moving it felt to have a fire in the fireplace once again. It has been almost 2 months since we learned of the problem, and at the time of year when we especially cherish the return of this cozy enhancement.

It refocuses the energy center on our main floor back to the special space that functions as our “living room,” with the couch providing a vantage point that takes in the fireplace centerpiece, as well as the doors and windows on either side providing views of the great outdoors beyond.

It doesn’t hurt that we just so happen to be undergoing a magical transformation into a Christmas wonderland this weekend, as a result of Cyndie’s never-ending visionary efforts.

I think the addition of last night’s fire provided her with just the right spark as a bonus.

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Written by johnwhays

December 12, 2015 at 7:00 am

New Incentive

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DSCN4060eThis time of year, when trees and bushes drop their leaves and we can suddenly see things in the woods that were previously obscured by greenery during summer, the number of standing dead trees becomes much more evident.

Last week, just to make the point more dramatically clear, one of them gave in and toppled over before I could get around to cutting it down for firewood.

It is giving me new incentive to get out and prune the forest of these potential threats to the health and well-being of those who may be traversing the path at such an unfortunate time.

Cyndie says she didn’t hear it fall, but noticed the startled horses running away and Delilah’s barking in reaction. I’m particularly happy that she hadn’t been walking the trail at that particular moment…

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Written by johnwhays

October 18, 2015 at 9:36 am

Posted in Chronicle

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