Wilder by Far

A look at life with the Wilder family. Updated most weekends and some vacation days. You can contact me at movingnorth@gmail.com..

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Location: United States

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

"I asked my father for a dollar for the school picnic, he told me how he killed a grizzly with his loose-leaf notebook." - Bill Cosby, Himself

First bit of firewood for the year. I know, I know, but it's a start.

It is time to get some wood for the winter. I know that the snow just melted, but nevertheless, it won’t be long at all until snow is covering the ground again.

I figure I need to get about 14 cords. A cord of wood (for whatever obscure reason involving monks, dwarves, and the wheel width of the Roman Chariot) is 4’ by 4’ by 8’. I think the French measure it in liters. Or litres. Whatever. In America, 14 cords or wood is 1792 cubic feet of wood, or a 4’ by 4’ stack that’s 112 feet long. I use two foot pieces, so that’s 2/3 of a football field long. Regardless, the average I need to hit (in the hundred days of summer) is 18 cubic feet of wood a day.

I can’t go cut wood (sadly) every day. So I have to hit it when I can.

Last Saturday, I went out for the first time. I got together with a friend and we loaded up our pickups and headed out. Into each pickup went a child, one of his, and one of mine.

Off to the woods we went. We drove for miles and miles on what passes for smooth road in Alaska (picture hitting a bump that makes your head graze the roof of a full-size pickup a full quarter mile before the “Rough Road” sign. That’s Alaska smooth.

We went and then turned off. After following directions, we ended up at a fork in the road – one side said, “NO EXIT, NO TURNAROUND, NO KIDDING” and the other was plainly marked as the area to cut wood. We didn’t investigate to see if we’d have to back down eight miles of road, and instead went into a maze of logging roads cut throughout Alaska – so deep into the forest that the “Can You Hear Me Now” guy would have heard nothing, until he heard the grizzly bear fastening a little bib with a picture of a human using a cell phone around his enormous neck.

(An aside – I thought about taking a .45 with me for bear protection, but then realized I was taking a chainsaw. Now if I tangled with the bear and he took the saw, then that would be about the ultimate in danger – a grizzly bear with a chainsaw. Dang, that’s scary. Because he’d have a bib on, with picture of me on it. I think I see a new direct-to-video movie out of this . . . Chainsaw Grizzly™. Next time I’m taking the gun.)

Anyhow, we started cutting wood, and loading the vehicles up. The chainsaws worked, mostly, and the sunny day was wonderful for being out in the forest. The kids did some low impact exploring.

I filled up the pickup a bit with the wood shown above. It was enough for a good start, though it didn’t come all the way up the sides. Just before we got back to the main road, my friend and I stopped to palaver, and The Boy walked over to his pickup, and got in. Since we were doing burgers at my place about an hour and a half later, my friend said it would be okay if they took him home to play.

So, alone I drove home.

I got there, and walked in the door. I waited about five minutes while The Mrs. frustrated me by not asking where The Boy was at. I finally blurted this out, and she said she figured he was outside, playing.

Dang The Mrs.

I never got to say, “Oops, forgot him in the forest.”

Foiled again.


Blogger Duck Hunter said...

Is there public lands where settlers like yourself get firewood? I've been wondering when you would run out of trees on your own land.

Maybe next time if you actually did forget the boy in the forrest you would get the reaction you were going for.

6:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, you wood-burning heat people are impressive. You don't, by chance, haul water, too? Because that's just masochism.

Sometimes I look at our fuel bill (easily $500/mo in Jan. and Feb.) and wood heat sounds like a good idea. Until I remember I'd have to,like, cut it down and split it and take care of the fire all winter.

9:16 AM  
Blogger the Witch said...

Gotta love the self-sufficient, Alaska spirit. You go John & Mrs!

1:15 PM  
Blogger Dame Koldfoot said...

You forgot to mention the part where The Boy wanted to go swimming at our house (with three girls no less), but didn't have any swim trunks with him. He wasn't interested in wearing girl shorts. Your readers can use their imagination as to what happened next. He's definitely a Wilder.

1:29 PM  
Blogger Woofwoof said...

Can't you just drill a hole under the house and have heating oil come out?

7:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi I love the humor of ur note, i imagine alaska spirit just like that!!

8:07 PM  
Blogger dogsled_stacie said...

Yahhh!!! Wood story in summer!! I passed by my extremely depleted woodpile (if you can call it that) the other day and realized I'm FREE!! Free for a few months!! I can't even think about wood in the summer. Bleah.

I filled up the pickup a bit with the wood shown above. It was enough for a good start, though it didn’t come all the way up the sides.
My favourite part of the story. The higher the woodpile in the truck is, the happier I get. I'll sometimes count the pieces too just to try and outdo myself. Ahhhhh... good times.

9:28 PM  
Blogger John said...

duck hunter,
Yes, there are. They're known as "your neighbor's house". Actually, there are several woodcutting areas around. But there's waaaay more forest than people, so we won't run out. Ever. Often you know somebody who's clearing a lot, so they're more than happy to get rid of the stuff.

I think you're right, though that would be a bit much for a practical joke.

No water hauling here, we have a pretty sweet (though hard) well.

See, the winter part is the fun part, because you've done all the work already, plus you might feel bad putting the heat up a few degrees on the thermostat, but you never feel bad throwing another log (or three) on the fire. You earned that one.

Yay self-sufficient! Except for the phone, grocery store, electricity, Internet . . .

dame koldfoot,
Yeah. We're working on that. Probably will be until he's twenty.

Yup, but that would be cheating.

Well, except for the crusty old guys. One day I'm hoping to be one of them.

I can't stop thinking 'bout it. Cut more now=warm in winter.

9:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just came across this blog while researching to buy a new wood stove. I too live in Fairbanks and 30 years ago cut wood. I love the convenience of oil but flaky electric service (improved greatly over the years) makes 40 below temps scary.

I live right next to a wood cutting area. Your description of the road you were on makes me think it was Chena Hot Springs Road.

You forgot to mention the $20 BLM yearly permit to cut wood and the $5 per cord for up to 10 cords a year. Still a small price to pay for the outdoor excerise in the summer as well splitting wood in dead of winter (easier if frozen wood. With the oil supply so flaky, I am putting in another stove to reduce the oil bill.

We still haul drinking water from the Fox spring in 5 gallon jugs. Our 160 foot well is also hard water (but no arsenic in it like some).

Nice blog - I will read more as time permits (summer is fast leaving and the wood pile needs to grow).

1:56 AM  

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