Firewood Follies

Exploring Kansas Outdoors


Ages ago when I wore a much younger mans clothes, I heated my home with wood. Cutting firewood is hard on the back but was always enjoyable to me, and I’ve had some interesting experiences whilst collecting my winter’s fuel, to include smashing the rear windshield out of my dad’s pickup with an errantly tossed chunk of hard hedge wood.
When I was still in my late twenties, my dad and I got permission to cut dead trees from a patch of Ohio woods that sat well off the road at the end of a long, hilly, winding tractor path. We spent a day cutting and dragging several trees into the alfalfa field that bordered the woods. The following Saturday we again wound our way up the rutted tractor path, looking forward to a rewarding day of simply cutting-up and hauling the now easily-accessible wood. All that greeted us as we entered the field were dozens of neat little rows of sawdust, the only evidence left after someone had cut up and made-off with all our firewood.
A few years later, I found a good-sized uprooted tree in the small woodlot I owned. The hole left in the ground beneath the roots was the size of a Volkswagen and three feet deep. With the tree already flat on the ground, I cut all the limbs and dragged them out of my way, then with the main trunk ready to chunk-up, I started cutting at the upper end and worked my way toward the giant root ball. I hadn’t made it very far when something happened to the saw, requiring a tool that was still at the house. I started to set the saw in the crater beneath the roots, but for some reason changed my mind and placed it on the ground a few feet away. When I returned with the tool, I thought I had stepped through a worm-hole into another dimension or something, cause the downed-tree and the saw were both gone. I wondered around in circles and finally stumbled onto the saw on the ground, but where was the uprooted tree? It took me awhile to realize that removing all the limbs and cutting off the upper part of the tree had allowed the weight of the root ball to stand the remaining trunk of the tree back upright into the crater. Good thing I decided against putting my saw there; even better that I hadn’t sat down in there for a nap!
The granddaddy of all firewood mishaps took place on a dreary fall Saturday while cutting down a huge dead wild cherry tree that stood just across the driveway from our house. My firewood cutting skills were the stuff of legends…. once I got a tree on the ground, but putting it there without catastrophe often eluded me. I clambered as high into the behemoth as I could get and encircled the trunk with a log chain, then attached an old hay rope salvaged from the barn and ran it yards out into the open field where dad sat waiting on the trusty Farmall H. Cutting was a slow process with a chainsaw barely half the length of the tree’s diameter, but a notch was soon cut toward the open field. As I cut on the other side, I motioned for dad to put tension on the rope and chain. The tree began to list slightly, so I cut a bit further then stepped back, figuring to watch our prize topple into the open field. However, the sound of cracking wood was drowned out by the sound of snapping rope fibers as the old hay rope gave up the ghost. Half a year’s firewood teetered and wobbled for a few seconds before crashing the opposite direction across the drive and onto the power lines, putting the whole neighborhood out of power, during an Ohio State football game no less, which was akin to loosing power at the nursing home during Wheel of Fortune. The neighbor’s anger was matched only by the power company guys who had to come out on a Saturday. It seems our firewood heated the entire neighborhood that day…continue to Explore Kansas Outdoors.
Steve can be contacted by email at [email protected].


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