Montana Outdoors

August 25, 2009

Renewable energy

Filed under: Montana, Outdoors, Photography, Photos, Pictures, Trees, Wood cutting — montucky @ 9:23 pm

Because there were so many projects that had to be done this summer, we decided that it would be good to buy a little firewood instead of spending the time going out and getting it ourselves. We bought a truck load of lodgepole pine from a guy who was thinning some of his timberland 25 miles down river and it will heat our home for about the next four years.





While I am performing the task of cutting these 25 tons of logs to 17 inch lengths to fit our wood stove, splitting and stacking them, this will probably be known as the “exercise room”. You know, with all of the ballyhoo now about health care, this might just be one of the best health care plans going.


  1. Oh, wow, that is a lot of lumber. That’s gonna take a lot of time and hard work, holysmokes! I can’t imagine…Hey, that is some blue sky.


    Comment by Candace — August 25, 2009 @ 10:59 pm

  2. Love the shots. Love the trees and the entire area around you there. Look at that sky!

    You said: ” . . . it would be good to buy a little firewood . . .” A little firewood!! lol lol

    Lodgepole Pine to heat your house? Isn’t Pine full of pitch? Won’t that be detrimental to your flu unless you put a chemical on your fire occasionally? Won’t be too much splitting to do to these logs as thin as they are.

    Tamarack is what my late DH used to sell. I know what it takes to make cord wood out of those logs. Hope you have a log splitter. If not, that exercise room is going to get a lot of workout! 😀


    Comment by Iona — August 26, 2009 @ 12:21 am

    • We have used mostly lodgepole for over a dozen years now. Among all of the pines, it has very little pitch and burns quite clean even without chemicals (which we never use). I wish there was more Tamarack (or Larch) available because it’s a significantly better fuel, but there isn’t much available any more.

      Turns out, about two thirds of the length of those will need splitting and I will use my 6 lb splitting axe. It’s faster than a hydraulic splitter and lots more fun. Once they’re cut to length, the splitting goes fast.

      The workout is good and because of it, we appreciate the warm fires even more.


      Comment by montucky — August 26, 2009 @ 8:20 am

  3. Wow…. I’m all for exercise – but yowza! I don’t think you’ll need to burn that wood though… just go to your exercise room and “work out!” You’ll stay warm enough!!! LOL


    Comment by Stacey - Addicted to The Click — August 26, 2009 @ 12:27 am

    • That’s true. Even in cold weather after splitting and stacking wood for awhile you’re not ready for a fire right away. The old saying is that using firewood for heat warms you twice.


      Comment by montucky — August 26, 2009 @ 8:22 am

  4. Looks like you have your work cut out for you. Though I’m looking at those long perfectly straight logs and wishing I had them to build a log cabin with. They look too good to be firewood!


    Comment by kateri — August 26, 2009 @ 6:09 am

    • Yes, these sure could be used to build a cabin. They are very good trees. That would be fun to try.


      Comment by montucky — August 26, 2009 @ 8:25 am

  5. 25 tons! Umm, is that more than a face cord???

    I actually like to chop wood, been chopping big pieces into manageable ones for campfires. But maybe I do not like it enough to cut 25 tons of wood!


    Comment by Bo Mackison — August 26, 2009 @ 9:40 am

    • I’m not an expert on the way wood is sold but I know it varies a lot. A cord is a stack that’s 4 ft X4 ft X 8 ft, or 128 cubic feet. I’ve read that a “face cord” is 4 ft X 8 ft X a length of each piece that is less that 4 ft; therefore the volume can vary widely. A logging truck load (bought from a reputable person) is all that a truck can carry, limited by state load limits, in this case, 25 tons. It will yield between 14 and 16 full cords, or 1,792 to 2,048 cubic feet. (2048 cubic feet would be a stack 8 ft wide by 8 ft high by 32 ft long.)


      Comment by montucky — August 26, 2009 @ 8:23 pm

      • 8 feet by 8 feet by 32 feet!!! Maybe a bit bigger than a face cord! 🙂 Just how long will all that wood last you. And are you only heating with wood?

        I can hardly imagine a woodpile that big. It would take up half my backyard!


        Comment by Bo Mackison — September 2, 2009 @ 7:39 am

        • That load will last for 3 to 4 years. We do have other heat, but it is seldom used, mostly in spring and fall when just a little is needed to take the chill off.

          Our covered woodpile will take perhaps a third of the load. The rest I’ll cut to length and stack and cover.


          Comment by montucky — September 2, 2009 @ 9:49 pm

  6. You’re right! It will definitely warm you twice!


    Comment by 3bdigitalart — August 26, 2009 @ 9:48 am

    • It sure will! And I won’t have to go to a gym to keep fit either.


      Comment by montucky — August 26, 2009 @ 8:25 pm

  7. There’s nothing like a wood fire to keep one warm during a Montana winter. 🙂


    Comment by Maureen — August 26, 2009 @ 10:18 am

    • That’s so true! Once you get used to wood stove heat, there’s no turning back! They are especially comforting during winter ice storms that take down power lines because they need no electricity.


      Comment by montucky — August 26, 2009 @ 8:27 pm

  8. Terry:

    As you saw your way thru the pile of pick-up sticks, how will you keep them from pinning you under your work?



    Comment by Chad — August 26, 2009 @ 12:37 pm

    • The pile isn’t really that unstable, but I’ll have to be reasonably careful. The old timers say to start at the very top; that’s the safest. When there is a doubt, I have a cable with a choker end on it (or use a chain) and I can skid a tree out the end with the Jeep.


      Comment by montucky — August 26, 2009 @ 8:30 pm

  9. Great photos. Wonderful way of supplying your fuel. The work will be worth it.


    Comment by Preston Surface — August 26, 2009 @ 1:19 pm

    • Well worth it, Preston. Not counting the work I will do, which is good for me anyway, I will heat my home all year with renewable energy fuel for about $250, and with the catalytic combustor on my stove, there are practically no emission issues. Not too hard to take.


      Comment by montucky — August 26, 2009 @ 8:34 pm

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    Pingback by Twitter Trackbacks for Renewable energy « Montana Outdoors [] on — August 26, 2009 @ 3:06 pm

  11. Pete Seeger’s exercise of choice actually. And at the rate he’s going, sign me up for his program!


    Comment by scienceguy288 — August 26, 2009 @ 3:15 pm

    • I’ll sign you up, but you might have to move out west.


      Comment by montucky — August 26, 2009 @ 8:34 pm

  12. WOW! Now one word came to mind. “Daunting” – now that looks like a daunting task to say the least. Ny time you have worked through that, you will have Paul Bunyan arms, if you don’t already.


    Comment by edvatza — August 27, 2009 @ 4:36 am

    • It just looks daunting, Ed. The pile represents 3 to 4 years worth of wood and doesn’t have to be dealt with all at once, although I’ll have it all cut to lengths by winter. Maybe trim off a few pounds in the process.


      Comment by montucky — August 27, 2009 @ 8:00 am

  13. Exercise room indeed! Wow! I bet it is a good feeling, though, to know you will be prepared and supplied for heating during the winter. I envy you, this, really. I know it will be a lot of work splitting and cutting. I’d love to be able to heat my home this way, a wood stove and the smoke smell, and feel good doing it. 🙂 Great photos!!!


    Comment by Anna Surface — August 27, 2009 @ 1:16 pm

    • It really is a good feeling, Anna. Very satisfying to do hard work that provides one of the basic needs in the cold country. It’s a rewarding feeling I wish more folks in today’s world could know.


      Comment by montucky — August 27, 2009 @ 6:15 pm

  14. wowee!! that is incredible! I cannot even imagine! great health care plan indeed! (though my son says watch out for snakes by the time you get to the bottom of that pile!)


    Comment by silken — August 27, 2009 @ 8:15 pm

    • Your son has a good point. That will be a good place for them especially if I don’t get it all re-stacked by winter. Also a good place for other little critters to winter.


      Comment by montucky — August 27, 2009 @ 9:23 pm

  15. ROFLOL! If you weren’t in shape before, you soon will be. Of course, after cutting all that wood, you won’t need the stove as you’ll be hot from the workout. 🙂

    In need to get me some of this kind of excercise room. Will have to get an axe first and a more health insurance. Just in case.


    Comment by Scott Thomas Photography — August 28, 2009 @ 12:02 pm

    • It will be good for me. I got a good start this morning. The first step will be to saw enough into 17 inch lengths for this winter so it will be able to dry well, and I sawed over a cord today.


      Comment by montucky — August 28, 2009 @ 6:21 pm

  16. I wish I had renewable energy.

    Good luck with the chopping.


    Comment by Pinhole — August 28, 2009 @ 4:26 pm

    • I could use a lot more of the kind I think you’re talking about too Pinhole!


      Comment by montucky — August 28, 2009 @ 6:18 pm

  17. Ooof that’s a heck of a lot of wood!


    Comment by Adam R. Paul — August 28, 2009 @ 6:05 pm

    • It is, Adam. I sawed up over a ton of it this morning though.


      Comment by montucky — August 28, 2009 @ 6:19 pm

  18. Wow! You have A LOT of wood to split!!


    Comment by Patia — September 21, 2009 @ 5:52 pm

    • Fortunately, plenty of time. I have enough split and stacked now for this winter and a couple more cords cut to length to add to the woodpile before the snow flies. I truly enjoy sawing and splitting it and it keeps me fit.


      Comment by montucky — September 21, 2009 @ 8:47 pm

      • I used to love to split wood, too.


        Comment by Patia — September 21, 2009 @ 10:19 pm

        • There’s something satisfying about it, isn’t there! I just put a new handle on my old splitting axe: after 32 years the other one just gave out. Took me about 4 hours, one of which was devoted to getting the lacquer finish off the new handle and rubbing in a few good coats of linseed oil: these days they dip the new hickory handles in lacquer, which to me is a desecration of a good piece of hickory. Now it feels like an axe handle should, smooth and fluid and somehow softer than my hard old hands. Can’t understand how anyone could stand those new coated handles that are rough and sticky and devoid of the character and personality of a good axe handle.


          Comment by montucky — September 21, 2009 @ 10:38 pm

  19. That’s poetry, right there, T.


    Comment by Patia — September 22, 2009 @ 12:33 pm

  20. There are no snakes in western montana…only in the lowest of elevations and all of them are harmless.

    How much did the truck load cost? $250.00? WOW! I’ve got to find me someone clearing wood too! I heat 99% with wood here in NW Montana (electrick is WAY to expensive now) Our cost is about $50.00 per cord due to distance from Kalispell we have to drive (about 100 miles round trip) If you can get 10 cords for $250 bucks, the HECK with going out and getting it!!!! I’ve got 3 acres to put it on! Nice photos and blog!



    Comment by n7lt — November 15, 2009 @ 10:08 am

    • The load was $1000 delivered, and it is 14 to 16 cords. We use 3 to 4 in a winter. It came from some timber land that was being thinned in the Trout Creek area. It has turned out to be pretty nice having the big log deck which lets me cut an split as time permits.

      Thanks for the visit!


      Comment by montucky — November 15, 2009 @ 11:10 am

  21. If you’re in SW Montana in the lowest of elevations, like Logan MT, or easter MT, then you can run into Rattlers….they are in alot of places but I can’t remember the last time someone has had trouble with any….In fact, the last time I remember anyone having trouble with a snake in MT is my Mother about 25 years ago when she stepped on one at the Buffalo jump…my Dad pulled her off of it like a rocket, a guy ran and grabbed a shovel and wacked it’s head off and kept the skin and rattles. Our biggest issue here with wood are spiders…bloody Hobo/wolf/what ever they are called and the black widows love to hide in wood piles….my wife got bit by one last year, took some herbs from a local guy and the problem was gone in a few hours…amazing! And YES it was a dangerous spider, the bite left a halo effect on her arm…scared the heck out of us!



    Comment by n7lt — November 15, 2009 @ 10:13 am

    • There are rattlesnakes in western Montana, LT. Here’s one that I ran across last summer near here, and they can be very dangerous: Prairie rattlesnake. A friend was bitten by one a few years ago but recovered OK.

      We do have quite a few black widows around. Haven’t had anyone bitten, luckily, and we get rid of every one we see.


      Comment by montucky — November 15, 2009 @ 11:18 am

  22. I re-read my comments…I should probally restate message 21 that “I can’t remember anyone I personally know who’s ever had any trouble with rattlers.” Down near the Lewis & Clark Caverans there are LOADS of Rattle snakes…( I grew up in Belgrade) Eastern MT has a lot also…I’ve lived here in Kalispell, about 65 miles east and 600+ feet lower than you, for six years now, we’ve skunked around the hills here quite a bit from the Idaho border up in the Libby area to the east side of Glacier park and most everything we can inbetween…never seen so much as single snake….seen plenty of griz and black bear, goats and rams and bloody agressive moose but never any snakes. 🙂

    Anyway, that is one HECK of a photo you took of that rattler…must have a nice telephoto lens! I take it you are a professional photographer? I’ve looked for your bio on your blog site but havn’t found it?

    Nice photos and interesting blog!

    What saw are you using? I’m using my fathers VERY old Sthil model o31AV…works GREAT…just found another one at a pawn shop this weekend for 50 bucks…identical! Nice to finally have two saws so if one dies, I don’t have to waste a trip…


    Comment by LT — November 17, 2009 @ 10:16 pm

    • I grew up in Missoula and my grand parents had a ranch here in the Plains area. There used to be lots of rattlers around here, but I’ve seen few in the last 5 years or so. The year before that, there were 5 right near my house. I guess with more people moving in they have killed most of them. Still have to be careful though, especially on the south-facing hot slopes above the Clark Fork.

      The photo of the rattler was actually taken with a macro lens at a range of about 2 feet. Thanks for the compliment, but I’m not a pro. Just take a lot of photos so I can show my wife where I’ve been and what I saw. Started posting them a few years ago and have found other folks enjoy seeing some of the too.

      I also use a Stihl saw. Had a Husquavarna, but it didn’t hold up very well. Love the Stihl!

      Don’t have much of a bio. It’s in the “About” section at the top right of the page, what there is of it.


      Comment by montucky — November 17, 2009 @ 10:49 pm

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