Firewood Weekend

Another glorious start to the weekend.

Well it’s here, the dreaded day the firewood delivery arrives. Perfect weekend weather forecast for it though. Cool and breezy; nothing worse than stacking firewood when it’s hot out or raining.

First year we had the 1980’s Vermont casting stove that came with the house. Never having had a wood stove before I found out this vintage babe could only take 12″ logs not the standard 16″ or better logs cut today. So phoned around and found a place that would supply 12″ logs. Knowing what I know now the other places didn’t have any because they have to cut it special and had sold all there dry wood. Not going to name where I got it from but 2 bush cords of wood. Not really two bush cords either because it was 12″ wood and it was barely dry behind the ears. We would have to be careful opening the stove as the hot sap would spit at us. So not only am I dealing with crap wood but I’m burning oil to keep the house warm (propane furnace didn’t go in till the next fall).

So sometime in August2017  I went on the hunt for good wood and luckily met Rolf from J & R Firewood  . Talking with Rolf taught me a bit about firewood sizes and that 12″ logs were not the norm and I would of had to order my wood last fall for delivery this fall. The wood needs to be cut to length, split and then set out to dry. He had some 24″ logs that could cut in half but didn’t recommend trying to cut dried hardwood. I agreed with that thought. I thanked him for the chat and went on my way. I knew that the bagged firewood you get at the gas bar or grocery store was 12″ so I just needed to find one of them. In the meantime I was also investigating an upgrade to the woodstove, discussion with the chimney sweeper about efficiency had me thinking. There are new laws coming into effect regarding how efficient your woodburning stove must be and my old vermont even with good wood was not efficient at all. I finally did find a supplier of dried 12″ wood way up north at a high cost for wood and delivery. I bit the bullet and bought an upgraded woodstove with catalytic converter (sends the smoke through a special afterburner and burns the smoke into almost no soot going out and reclaims the heat). Call to Rolf and 2 bush cords arrive and away we go.

So winter sets in and wow what a difference, once we get the stove hot we barely see flames and the house is at 74. With the new stove we can also bank a fire to run during the day keeping the pets comfy at 68 and the furnace never needs to run. Money well spent except we are now running a fire 24/7 and using wood faster but less propane. Mid February and Rolf does me a solid by delivering one bush cord. Truck is set up to deliver two loads of 2 bush cords or one load of 4 bush cords. Anyways we squeaked through that awful spring with not a stick of wood left.

That brings us to this year and delivery of 4 bush cords, I like my fires and I’ll be damned if I am going to stack wood when it’s 0 degrees out again. We also had the chimney swept by Heritage Chimney Sweeps. Jeremy did an awesome job and found that the previous two years wasn’t done quite right. After long discussion of how woodstove behaved and what he found we should notice a big difference this year.

This is the designated dumping area for the wood delivery.
This is the designated area full of wood.

Delivery didn’t happen till lunch time but Irene and I made some good progress before the sun went down on us.

Half a days worth of stacking took a big bite out the pile.
Stopped to take in the gorgeous sunset across the neighbors paddocks.

Sunday rolled around and both of us quite stiff. By the time we got moving it was well past noon. Thankfully this year we had a trailer for the tractor which could move a hell of lot more wood front to back than a wheelbarrow.

18hp of 1994 cast iron power. She may be old but she’s a good one.

My helper said her gym time was over and done with after another 3hrs of slugging. Luckily we had beaten the pile to death by that time. Without her help i’d still be stacking.

I finally had to admit defeat and left the mess to be cleaned up another day with just enough time to cut the grass.

So now that we’re ready it should stay warm till December or so…..

Someone requested a pic of a hummingbird sitting still at the feeder.

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Till the next time,

Kevin

 

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Harvesting the honey

As the summer draws to a close, our honey bees needed some tending to.

In order to keep honey bees happy, they must be provided room to store the honey collected over the summer. Without that extra room, they will either vacate the hive or split themselves into two colonies; the second colony leaving to find a new home. This new home could be somewhere objectionable to humans so it’s best to keep them happy in their hive. The honey collected over the summer is of no use to the bees over the winter and actually makes it harder for them to keep the temperature of the hive warm over the winter.  Thus, liquid gold becomes payment  to us beekeepers for providing lodging, spring and fall food.

How we came to be beekeepers in the first place is a story for another post!

COLLECTING PAYMENT:

Step one: Calmly remove the honey supers from the hive; disturbing the colony as little as possible. Hell of a lot easier said than done. *Brood boxes are the colony’s permanent home for babies & winter food and other than inspection for disease, pests and problems , they are left alone *

Left side two brood boxes. Right side additional two honey supers.

Step two: Setup work station away from hives and begin the extraction process. We ended up with ten racks of capped honey from the two hives. This being our second year with the first hive, ten racks was a good harvest.

Step three: Cut comb into squares and put into comb containers.

Step four: Scrape comb and honey into bucket, mash up, cover with fine filter, invert over another bucket. Let gravity do the rest; separating honey from beeswax. The one tutorial I watched referred to this as the “viking method”.

  

 

Step five: Be patient and let nature take its course. Tomorrow, the liquid gold gets put in the bank (jarred!).

NOTES FROM THE PAST:

2016: Brampton house sold and preparing to transport Justin out to Halifax.

2017: Firewood delivery – Long weekend of stacking in preparation for winter.

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