Saturday, December 18 2010
Today I cut up and hauled back the rest of the mulberry that the Town of Hurley highway guys had cut down (the main trunk remains standing, but that's not a project to tackle now). As I've been cutting up the wood, I've been finding that it isn't anywhere near as dry as I'd expected it to be. The tree has been dead and standing for at least three years, and, at least with most tree species I'm familiar with (everything from White Pine to Red Oak, though perhaps not Cottonwood), such conditions produce wood that is at least as dry as that produced by conventional firewood seasoning. Sure, a standing tree is exposed to rain, but not much penetrates the surface and the combination of wind and summer sun manage to suck out most of the residual moisture from when the tree was alive. Evidently, though, this isn't the case with mulberry. Mind you, the wood wasn't very moist (for example, water didn't squeeze out in a puddle as I drove in a wedge). But it was wet enough for water to pour out of the ends when I went to burn it. Also, the moisture content of the mulberry varied enormously from one part of the tree to the next. There was little sign of decay, but the wood had the unpleasant horse shit smell familiar from dealing with Cottonwood. It was also proving difficult to split. Several of these traits (as well as the size of the tree and the absence of sparks) do not seem to comport with written descriptions of mulberry, though I don't know what else it could be. Elm perhaps? It's not an oak, a hickory, a birch, a basswood, a maple, a beech, an ash, a walnut, a tuliptree, a tupelo, or an evergreen, and it's hard to think of large trees outside of that list that grow up here on the mountain.
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