Surviving Winter with wet Firewood

I live in the backwoods of Southwestern Pennsylvania, it's basically a rural village the rest of the world forgot.  Modern commodities like water, gas and sewage...  we don't have those luxuries.  Instead some of us collect rain water (me) others have wells. We do have indoor plumbing, electricity and some of the fancier folk have oil furnaces!

Meet Bob 

The hardest working Hillbilly I've ever met! He's country strong, has an incredible mechanical inclination and lived this way and off the land his entire life. 

He's kept my ass alive more times than I can count. Is always willing to lend a hand and has been known to do some awesome karaoke if the combination of beer, bonfire and music is just right!

Surviving Winter with Wet Firewood

​The old story of the grasshopper and the ant...  I am always the grasshopper and Bob is always the ant. It's early December and he's already working on next years wood. I have yet to cut what I will need this year.... 

Early on Bob explained the importance of "dry" firewood. You get better combustion, more BTU's, less creosote, the list goes on. Since my stockpile of wood is usually just a couple weeks and I'm always playing catchup

Remove the Bark

​The bark is like a sponge and will lock in moisture, especially if it's below freezing. The larger logs tend to be easier to remove, the smaller can be troublesome. Bob uses a hatchet and basically chips at the bark creating notches followed by a downward shaving motion cleaving the bark off. He makes it look effortless but it's actually a huge pain in the ass. 

Split the Wood 

​Splitting will increase the surface which equals more area for transpiration. When building a fire you know will be burning damp wood, you want to create as much surface area as possible and establish a bed of coals that will not extinguish when the damp wood is placed. Smaller pieces of wood = faster combustion and more heat is produced but less burn time.

You will want to bring a few hours of wood in and set it next to the fire to dry. The surface of those logs will dry but the pores will still retain water. Having a dry surface will help from extinguishing the coals, it's also a good measure to roll the log and break up the coals before adding more wood to the fire. 

Tools of the Trade | Hatchet

​His hatchet has seen some things... The handle is composed of electrical tape but the edge is razor sharp. He told me today he has a new hatchet but he doesn't like it very much.

I've noticed that he doesn't have any wants or needs for new things. If he broke the handle on his shovel but could still use it, he would continue digging. I've always admired his practices, he finds purpose and use for everything and wastes nothing.