This winter I’ve been splitting poplar logs to keep up a supply of kindling. That’s unusual – not because it’s poplar, but because I’m the one doing the job. For the entire thirty years that we’ve lived here, I’ve taken not only my supply for granted – courtesy of June, son Joseph, and my late father-in- law Victor – but also kindling itself.
The business of getting those of our trees that are destined to be used as firewood to the stage in the process where they’re ready to be burned has exercised my mind (not to mention my body), to the extent that I seldom spare a thought for kindling. After close to two and half years of sending out blog posts once a week, firewood has been the topic of four posts* and mentioned in numerous others. I did a search of my posts for ‘kindling’ and came up with the briefest of mentions in two posts.
I’m onto it. But I have to confess that that is only because I’ve now got the job.
Joseph would fill a couple of big cardboard boxes at a time with broken up dead willow twigs and thin branches. And Victor could be relied upon to add to the supply when the grandparents came to visit. June took on the job after Joseph left home. But this winter she’s added painting the sunroom-cum-back porch and all the prior preparation work to her already long list of everyday and seasonal jobs.
I ask myself why I’m splitting logs for kindling rather than gathering up crack willow of a suitable size. My approach is certainly no quicker and it doesn’t contribute to keeping the gully free of fallen branches. I’ve come up with: habit (I seem to be always chopping wood!); the satisfaction I get from using a hatchet to chop logs into slender sticks; the convenience of splitting logs that are already in firewood drums situated only a few metres from the house.
And my attitude is that keeping two or three days ahead of myself will have to be good enough, so that’s how much I split at one go. If I was going to the trouble of clambering down to the gully then I’d be taking a couple of boxes with me to make it worthwhile.
My poplar sticks look very much like the ones in those small bags, boxes and bundles of kindling you see for sale at places like Mitre 10 and petrol stations. Who’d light a woodstove fire most days of the year if you had to buy firewood and kindling? I see Mitre 10 is selling a 6.5 kg box for $13.75 – that’d last us all of a couple of weeks.
That’s another thing I’ve taken for granted – a never ending source of wood that’s suitable for kindling, and all to be had for next to nothing. As for the bigger picture, dare I even look there? I fear I’d find far too much that I take for granted!
*Wood Chopper: Part One; Wood Chopper: Part Two; Baby, won’t you light my fire?; The Electric Saw.
That’s all on modern-day homesteading at Little Owl Gully till next Monday. Thanks for your company. Bye for now.