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Winter woodfires: preparing firewood

When we first moved into Eight Acres there was a massive pile of wood in one of the paddocks, and even though we knew it was a big job to clean it up, we were pleased to have access to free firewood.  I didn't take "before" photos of this pile, but I did take some part way through the clean up process.  It took us about a year to pick through all the logs and cut them into rounds.  They were branches from iron bark gum trees that were felled for fence posts by a previous tenant on our property.

A kookaburra comes to help pick up bugs from the firewood pile
As the branches had been in the pile for at least a few years we thought that the rounds would be ready to burn right away, but it seems that iron bark takes a little longer to dry out!  When Farmer Pete tried to split the rounds with an axe it just bounced off the log.  That's when we realised that the wood might need more time to dry.  We set up a wood pile using "besser blocks" to support a few sheets of old roofing iron, with the wood piled as neatly as possible on the iron.  Its important for us to keep the wood off the ground to prevent termites and/or snakes making a home in the pile.

moving firewood on the ute
One year later, the rounds are starting to crack, so they are ready to split, but the wood is still very hard and I usually find it difficult to split (a good job for Farmer Pete).

staking firewood as neatly as possible

Unfortunately I wasn't aware of the benefits of hugelkultur at the time, so we had a big bonfire to tidy up when we were finished cutting all the decent firewood.

potential hugelkultur wood going up in smoke, if only I'd known!

More about our woodstove - cooking in the woodstove and installing a woodstove.

Do you cut your own firewood?  How do you prepare and store it?

Comments

  1. Some of my wood requires a steel wedge and hammer to split but most will just go with an 8lb maul. It sounds like your wood will be good to burn overnight if it is that hard.
    I got mine split and stacked for late October use, enjoy your fall!

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  2. I think wood ash is very good for the soil, so maybe all is not wasted. I love seeing all the hugelkulters popping up everywhere and they do look very successful don't they? Do you heat the house withe firewood?

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  3. Ah but I bet the bonfire was fun.

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  4. I used to split firewood as a teenager when I lived in Stanthorpe. I would do the whole axe bouncing off the wood, until my mum (who was an old farmer's kid) taught me how to split it like a pro.

    Turned out I was meant to aim for one of the large splits. They fall to pieces with one blow that way. I was just aiming for the wood and couldn't understand why the axe kept jumping back at me, LOL.

    Not sure how much you know about splitting wood (could be heaps more than me) but that one little trick my mum taught me, made all the difference.

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  5. Yes the firewood is for heating the house, just a for a few months over winter, I love having the fire going. Thanks for the tips Chris, when Farmer Pete splits the wood he aims for the cracks and it splits easier for him, but my aim isn't very good!! I can get some of it to split eventually, but it is hard work, just have to keep practising I suppose. The good thing is because its very hard wood it burns long and hot, perfect firewood.

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  6. I suppose the more arm strength you have the better. The system I ended up with was raising the axe over my shoulder and putting my whole body behind the swing. When it hits that crack just right, it pops like a coconut, LOL.

    As a teenager I wouldn't consider myself strong, but you certainly get to be a little more that way after chopping wood. Being cold (in Stanthorpe) was good incentive to get back out to the wood pile, LOL.

    I agree, ironbark and black wattle are extremely long burning woods. Both a little harder to split too.

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  7. Something for me to look forward to... we were thrilled with the huge stacks of firewood on the property we are buying - but on a visit last week I noticed the current owners have taken all the firewood away. Bummer!

    I'm enjoying reading through all your past blog posts....Full of helpful info.

    And thank you for your comment about our move to the country being the right one....It made me smile imagining you and your friend 'wondering around with an axe, a throwing knife and a slug gun!'. Now thats an education ;-)

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  8. I love the blog and am very interested in all the info you post. We are new to 'country life' on just 4.5 acres outside Yandina (Sunshine Coast). Like you we have a load of sheets of tin left by previous owners and I thought the idea of stacking the timber up on top was a great one - for snake and termite avoidance. Is it better to have the wood stack placed in a real sunny spot so the wood stays dry, or is a shaded spot ok? We had an old dead gum that fell and the wood is very seasoned already, just needs chopping up. Any advice would be most appreciated. :-)

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  9. Hi Duncan, good question, we just put our piles around the edge of our house yard where they would fit. By chance we have ended up with one in the sun and one more in the shade, and both piles have produced good wood. If you have a spot in the sun, it will probably help it to dry quicker, but if not, just stack it somewhere, it will get hot enough over summer to dry. We had lots on the ground that we thought would be dry enough to use right away, but it was still too wet to split easily. After a year on the firewood stack it is now easy to split. I hope that helps, cheers, Liz

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  10. Thanks for the response Liz. Just wanted to check I wasn't about to make a rookie mistake... :-D

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Thanks, I appreciate all your comments, suggestions and questions, but I don't always get time to reply right away. If you need me to reply personally to a question, please leave your email address in the comment or in your profile, or email me directly on eight.acres.liz at gmail.com

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