Monday, September 24, 2018

I'm Out Splitting Wood

What?! You're not splitting wood - you can't be - you're a girl!
I'm a girl yes - a wife, mother and grandmother now...
Well, yes, I am a girl, but yes, I was splitting wood today - but not with an ax. There is no way I am confident enough or strong enough - so don't worry. We have been heating our house with wood for the last couple of years but until two years ago, we always had an oil burner as a backup source of heat. Oil as a fossil fuel was just not something we wanted to burn in our home any longer. The old burner was a good one in it's day but that was a long time ago and we all know that we cannot continue using petroleum products forever. We decided that our long term goal was to use solar as our backup source of energy for electric heat and that we were ready to ditch the boiler. We knew wood was a good renewable energy source as long as we burned it properly.

Freshly cleared trees

Our home has a beautiful stone fireplace that was built by a well-known stone mason in this area, but fireplaces are not efficient or practical to use for heating a whole house. We did get a big cast iron fireplace insert given to us a few years back, but it was a brute and sucked in the wood like spaghetti. While doing some research on efficient wood stoves, I stumbled across a Popular Mechanics article where they were showcasing the results of a clean burning wood stove competition. The overall winner was the Ideal Steel Hybrid made by Woodstock Soapstone. It was just what we wanted, a highly efficient, reasonable priced, low emission stove. This will be our fourth year with the really amazing stove.

Ideal Steel Hybrid Woodstove

Notice our personalized stove

Last year, Eric built a wood storage enclosure where we could stack wood out of the weather but in the sun and wind for optimal seasoning. We figure that it holds four cords of wood, which is enough to heat our home for a winter. 

Our Wood Shelter (we will remove the pallets when all the logs are split)

Last year, we also didn't spend any money on buying wood, just using the trees that we had dropped on our property to make room for the house lifting machinery. Of course, Eric had a chainsaw and a splitting mawl but since the logs were green and not seasoned, splitting four cords by hand would have been so much work. Our solution? Buy an electric splitter. Why? Well the reviews were fantastic. The price was much less than a gas powered splitter. We hated the noise level of the gas splitters, and I wanted to be able to contribute more to the effort. The big question was, could it deliver?

About 20% done!

We placed our order and within a few days, our cherry-red, Boss Industrial 7-ton electric splitter was in our driveway. Last year, we sat on our patio and fed the twelve to twenty-inch wide logs into the splitter and it just kept working. We could sit and talk while we worked, and before we knew it, we had our wood shelter filled up. No gas cans, no oil, no noise - we loved it! Yes, there were a couple super heavy and wet sycamore and black walnut logs that refused to split, but we set them aside to dry more and split them later. 

Boss Industrial 7-Ton Electric Splitter

I love telling people that I am out splitting wood. There is always that pause...Wait, what? And then I go on to explain that no, I am not an ax-wielding crazy woman, just a happy one sitting outside pushing the lever of the clean and quiet machine that renders dirty, twisted and gnarly logs into clean white fresh smelling chunks of wood that I can easily handle. After a few months of sitting in the fall sun and breezes, the wood burns clean and hot and thanks to our efficient stove with almost no emissions to harm our atmosphere.

So, yeah, I was out splitting wood...

Hydraulic power works great!