Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").
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salvaging small dry pieces of wood
Thursday, March 6 2014
Back in the early part of this winter, I'd demonstrated to myself that hauling firewood from fairly distant depots in the forest was feasible using a backpack frame. The backpack frame I'd used had been a tiny olive-drab device that looked like it was designed for preteen boyscouts. I could make it fit my back and I could carry 75 pounds of firewood with it, but I could feel that it was on the edge of falling apart when I was using it (even well within my hauling capabilities). So yesterday a replacement arrived via FedEx. (On our route, FedEx tends to use Budget Rental vans instead of official FedEx trucks; cleverly, the delivery guy had leaned the box against our pet door, barricading the dogs inside the house and giving himself a chance to escape.) The new backpack frame is a Stansport Deluxe Freighter and includes a little fold-down shelf at the bottom. This afternoon, despite continued bitter cold conditions, I took it and my small battery-powered chainsaw into the nearby forest west of the Farm Road to see how effective it would be for salvaging the sorts of small dry pieces of downed timber that I would normally consider too pathetic to bother with. The small chainsaw made cutting up that wood easy, and the backpack made bundling and carrying it straightforward and feasible. The only real problem was the continued presence of deep snow. With the additional weight on my back, my feet tended to crunch through the snow and plunge all the way down to ground. But that was better than walking on well-worn trails, all of which have developed slick icy patinas. To slip and fall with such a heavy backpack is a recipe for permanent injury.
Back at the woodshed, I weighed the pack and found that I'd just hauled 70 pounds of wood. It was all extremely dry, ready to burn, and all in pieces with unusually-small diameters (no more than five inches). Such wood makes a good hot fire, and despite outdoor temperatures that yet again dropped into the single digits, I was able to make the living room a warm and cozy place. The ability to easily salvage such high-quality firewood "just in time" (despite the snow pack) is going to save us this season. In terms of firewood on hand, at this point we're down to the contents of the "annex," a truck bed cap that sticks out of the back of the woodshed. It's been a long hard winter, and the forecast still shows little promise of spring.
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