Adirondack Made logs ready for the mill!
No matter where you live, the saying seems to be, “wait a minute and the weather will change.” From the west coast to the eastern Adirondacks, they all say it!
The 90 degree steamy days seem to be over, and fall is slowing working its way to our region. It won’t be very long before the winds of winter blow, the temperature will be below zero and we will have something new to complain about. Too hot, too cold; it doesn’t matter. Someone will complain. It’s human nature to complain about nature’s way.
I look forward to winter. It’s a time to slow down and enjoy a stack of good books and enjoy the warmth of a wood stove burning and churning out BTU’s to heat the house. Reading during the summer when there’s work to do, is something I just can’t do. There’s always something to do, like cutting, hauling and stacking firewood during the long summer days.
It may be warm today, but you really need to be thinking about getting a load or two of fire wood delivered to your door for tomorrow.
Yes, wood is locally produced, organic, renewable and sustainable heat that is in tune with nature. There is nothing like walking into the house after a cold day out in the woods. The hot dry air warms like no other heat.
Fire wood from local trees is a renewable resource fuel that when burned, releases carbon monoxide. However, when a tree is cut, new growth starts from the area where the old tree stood and shaded the ground. Through the process of photosynthesis, carbon is then taken back out of the atmosphere, and utilized by the growing trees. There is a natural balance between what is released and what is stored if a woodlot stays a woodlot.
Flipping a switch and letting the oil burner make my heat is not what I like for many reasons.
One of which is, that stored carbon burned as oil, that was made eons ago is released and the balance of stored carbon versus released, is broken. When we burn fuel oil and gas along with a list of other things that release carbon we are releasing more carbon than we store, and that is where the problem is.
Secondly, when we have acres and acres of unmanaged woodlands around us and we heat with oil produced in some foreign nation, well that really doesn’t make much sense to me. We transport oil from a country 1,000 miles away to heat our homes when all we have to do is look out the window and see thousands of acres of potential fuel if managed properly. Not only would we get fuel, we can create wildlife habitat, have managed sugar bushes, and other fruit and nut tree crops.
I support the oil companies enough when I fill my car and truck with gas. I really don’t want to spend all my money on foreign fuel when I can spend it on Adirondack, organic, locally grown heat. With the proper woodstove and chimney setup, you can enjoy wood heat in your house and know that you are supporting locally grown fuels and businesses.
Whether you get cord wood delivered or have a wood pellet stove, you are spending your hard earned money locally. That is important in keeping an Adirondack community alive. Far too many small businesses have left or gone out of business because of the lack of community support. Many Adirondack communities are based on agriculture and forestland ownership. Keeping them profitable helps keep communities thriving. We have far too many empty store fronts and vacant buildings in our area. It’s easy to blame Walmart or some other box store, but it all boils down to the consumer. You make the final decision where to buy. I am not opposed to “wally world” or McDonald’s, or any other business trying to make a living. I shop at some of these places but I also try to buy from farmers markets, local fire wood suppliers and local lumber yards.
Our society is leaning toward locally produced vegetables and grass-fed meats, as well as other products. That is good. We need to do more though! We must support our local industry by purchasing local agriculture and forest products.
We need to look at more locally produced organic heat for our homes, schools, and business’s. Economics plays a serious part in purchasing fuel and it seems every time we lean toward an alternative fuel, the price of oil drops just enough to make the alternative, a non-alternative.
In the long run though, we really need to think about what will be stable for our area. Forest products and agriculture are our key industries so let’s support them as much as possible. Buy your food from a local farmer, buy your fire wood or wood pellets from local suppliers and build as much as possible from local woods. Have a local carpenter or cabinet maker build your next piece of furniture. Let’s keep the money close to home where the profits will improve our neighborhoods and our children’s lives. Let’s not send our hard earned dollars elsewhere!
Make sure you have a proper woodstove and chimney that meets local codes and is inspected before you start to heat with your local organic woods. Modern stoves have fewer emissions than old styles and are very efficient for heat production. Work with a chimney sweep to maintain your chimney and stove so you and your family stay safe.
Here is a chart with some local woods and their heat values.
Wood Heat Rating Yield Splits Smoke Sparks BTUs/Cord
Ash Excellent High Easy Light No 25.9 Mil
Red Oak Excellent High Easy Light No 21.7
W. Oak Excellent High Easy Light No 26.5
Beech Excellent High Easy Light No 21.8
Birch Excellent High Easy Light No 21.3
Hickory Excellent High Easy Light No 30.8
Hard Maple Excellent High Easy Light No 29.7
Once you have your stove in place and a stack of dry firewood ready to burn you can start to sever yourself from the foreign fuel industry.
On that next cold winter evening you will feel the warmth and dry air of a wood stove and know that you are supporting your local economy and our country by using American made, organic, renewable and sustainable wood heat and wood products.
Rich Redman is a retired District Conservationist for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and an avid outdoorsman. His column will appear regularly. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.