Jack’s Column

Gathering wood.  Stacking wood.  Cords of wood.  These are familiar terms to an era gone by, when a majority of the population used wood for central heating and cooking.

Keeping the wood box full probably was one of your duties.  Your mother depended on you to have a supply handy so she could cook a hot meal.

Things changed with the advent of oil and gas.  These products were cheap enough to encourage most people to use it for heating and cooking, then relieving them from the outdoor task of gathering wood.  People using the new form of energy for heating and cooking appreciated the cleaner house.

The greater use of this energy source came after World War II.  Oil was in great demand for military purposes.

In the 1970’s, we were faced with an energy crunch causing the price of fuel, both oil and gasoline to rise quickly.  It was during that time many people looked for alternative heating source.

I, like many people, reverted to an earlier age of gathering wood.  This entailed more physical fortitude then relying on energy delivered to a tank at your home.

The biggest problem was finding a source of wood.  Living on prairie county trees were not readily available.  Most farmers were happily ensconced in their shelter of trees around the house and outbuildings.

Secondly, a chainsaw that was reliable was needed.  Third, a vehicle to haul wood, a truck or trailer.

Upon arriving at home with a pickup load of wood, the next problem was do I stack this wood, hopefully in a dry location.

Now the homework begins — splitting to size of your wood stove.  Oh!  Just remembered I need a stove to burn this wood.  I did have a fireplace in my home, but the older style is notorious for being inefficient.  After all this work harvesting this wood, I want something that used wood more efficiently.

After searching, I found a small unit which collected heat in its walls and a fan to extract the heat to be sent into the room or the furnace heat exchanger.

My furnace burned oil, but by keeping the exchanger warm from the wood stove, much less oil was burned.

Fortunately, I knew enough farmers who needed the grove cleaned out, so I had a ready supply of wood.

My two sons and daughter were kept busy many Saturdays in the winter splitting and moving wood piles.   My wife accompanied me on many wood gathering trips.  Wood gathering became a family project.

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