Montana Outdoors

June 5, 2011

Summer’s work, winter’s comfort

Filed under: Montana — Tags: — montucky @ 10:39 pm

One advantage of living away from the cities and near the forests is the ability to utilize wood heat, if you don’t mind doing a little work for it. This is about twenty five tons of wood which will heat our home for the next three years. It also serves as an exercise room: note on the right end of the log deck in the last photo the tools that will be used to turn it into firewood.

Fire wood

Fire wood

Fire wood

Fire wood


  1. Me thinks you will have one good long work out!


    Comment by Stacey Dawn — June 5, 2011 @ 10:50 pm

    • It has already begun. I really enjoy it though and that kind of strenuous exercise makes a real difference in how I feel.


      Comment by montucky — June 5, 2011 @ 11:34 pm

  2. What kind of wood is it? When I see logs as straight as those I think “log cabin”, though it looks like these are a little too thin for that. We heat with wood and my husband enjoys the exercise too.


    Comment by kateri — June 6, 2011 @ 5:28 am

    • “Log cabin” is close. This is all lodgepole pine and has been used for log cabins because it grows tall and straight. These are a little bigger than they look: their lengths are over 60 feet.


      Comment by montucky — June 6, 2011 @ 8:52 am

  3. This is one place where I don’t envy you. I was never so sick as when I lived with wood heat. I think I may have permanently damaged my lungs. All those downdrafts pouring smoke into my house.
    Plus we once burned the house to the ground because whoever installed our chimney put a turn in it and it filled with creosote.

    No thank you!


    Comment by Roberta Warshaw — June 6, 2011 @ 6:18 am

    • We once in awhile get a little backdraft that produces a smell in the house and that’s unpleasant, but it is not very often and nearly always in spring or fall when we burn a small fire. Creosote buildup is something that one has to be aware of and prevent. It can have many different causes but it is controllable and I have never had a problem with it. With our fire department though I’ve responded to many chimney fires.


      Comment by montucky — June 6, 2011 @ 8:58 am

  4. Ah yes, the source that warms thrice. It appears, however, that someone else got the first warming (felling the timber). But you have plenty of sizing, splitting and stacking for that second warming.



    Comment by Dave at collinda — June 6, 2011 @ 6:33 am

    • Plenty of work to do, yes! The felling is the easy part. We can cut our own here, but hauling it has become an issue, both in time and expense lately. Considering both of those things, it is probably cheaper to buy a load. Also, I can work on it in my back yard any time I want, especially early in the mornings when it’s cool.


      Comment by montucky — June 6, 2011 @ 9:01 am

  5. i think a pet beaver might be useful =o)


    Comment by Sandy — June 6, 2011 @ 6:45 am

  6. Until just a few years ago we did the same thing, have a load delivered just like that, our logs were thicker and meant using the log splitter. Sigh. I miss our wood stove. Missouri is TOO HOT


    Comment by Homestead Ramblings — June 6, 2011 @ 7:23 am

    • This is all lodgepole and they don’t get very big, but nearly all of these must be split. I find my splitting axe is faster and easier than using a power splitter for them. (Besides, I like using an axe!) We love the wood stove heat too: you can get up close to the stove and get really warm!


      Comment by montucky — June 6, 2011 @ 9:05 am

  7. How many rank of wood does all that make? I couldn’t even guess… =)

    Have a great week!!! =)


    Comment by Tricia — June 6, 2011 @ 8:28 am

    • Here wood is always measured by the “cord”, which is 128 cubic feet. The number of cords in a log deck like that will be more than it will be when it is cut to length, split and densely stacked. By the time it gets stacked in our woodpile, that load will probably be from 10 to 12 cords, lasting us for close to three winters.


      Comment by montucky — June 6, 2011 @ 9:13 am

  8. I agree w/ Homestead Ramblings… Missouri is TOO HOT!!!


    Comment by Tricia — June 6, 2011 @ 8:29 am

    • We like the four distinct seasons here, including the cold of winter. I would like winter to be a little shorter however.


      Comment by montucky — June 6, 2011 @ 9:07 am

  9. Wood…What would we do without it and the beauty of nature that you do so well in capturing for us. People have used fireplaces and woodstoves for a long time…Wonderful!


    Comment by mitambien — June 6, 2011 @ 9:50 am

    • These are trees that were killed by the pine beetle plague that we’ve had for a few years now. Wood burning in rural areas is very economical and something I find pleasant, and the exercise is a good thing. Our stove has a catalytic combustor and so it burns very clean. This load was $1000 including transport and so our heating bill will be from $300 to $500 per winter, excluding “sweat equity”. Last year we gave away a couple of cords as well.


      Comment by montucky — June 6, 2011 @ 10:26 am

  10. Hi Montucky, I agree! That Oak that fell and smashed my dock is now cut up and stacked as firewood. I have a wood stove insert in my upstairs fireplace to use as supplemental heat in the cold of Winter here in TN. Nice pictures today as always. You are a gifted photographer. Have a wonderful day!


    Comment by wildlifewatcher — June 6, 2011 @ 1:21 pm

    • Long ago we bought a house in Arizona that had a fireplace. We thought that was odd, but then ended up using it a lot in winter, even there. Supplemental wood heat is also good, and it would be great to have if there are extended power outages, as there sometimes is here.


      Comment by montucky — June 6, 2011 @ 3:19 pm

  11. Now, that is a load of wood! I had not heard of any of the locals buying it like that.

    Did I ever tell you my dad was a logger in Oregon?


    Comment by sandy — June 6, 2011 @ 3:12 pm

    • I know several people who buy this way, but it’s obviously not for everyone. I hadn’t heard that about your dad. Logging here is at a very low point because of the bad housing market and other factors as well. Oregon is a much better place for growing trees because of the yearly rainfall they receive. Despite so many people saying it is, timber is not a renewable resource in Montana because of our dry climate. There are only 5 states that receive less precipitation than Montana, and with our rocky soil and low amounts of rainfall, trees grow very slowly here.


      Comment by montucky — June 6, 2011 @ 3:25 pm

  12. Yep, you have a lot of work in front of you but it’s a lot of fun isn’t it. We burn about 5 tons of hardwood a year all harvested, cut up and split by moi from our land. Wouldn’t have it any other way.
    Good thing I was a year ahead considering my back problems this year.


    Comment by Wild_Bill — June 6, 2011 @ 3:20 pm

    • I really enjoy working on firewood. It’s very satisfying. For a lot of years I went out and cut in the National Forest and I probably will again, but with a lot of other things to do this summer and next getting a load brought in really saves time.

      It must be extra nice to be able to harvest wood from your own land. We just don’t have enough property here for us to do that. I’d also just love to have hardwood! Lodgepole is good, but not nearly as good as hardwood. I may go out and get a few loads of fir and some larch for those really cold nights. That’s the best we can do here.


      Comment by montucky — June 6, 2011 @ 6:23 pm

  13. It is funny how many people here in the Phoenix area have fireplaces. We don’t but when I smell the mesquite or whatever they’re burning, I get pretty jealous.

    Wasn’t it last year that you showed a similar delivery of wood that you chopped? That’s a lot of wood.


    Comment by Candace — June 6, 2011 @ 6:35 pm

    • We had a fireplace when we lived in that area. We really enjoyed it and used it a lot. I don’t remember using any other heat there.

      We had a similar load of wood in 2009 and used all but about 2 cords that we gave away.


      Comment by montucky — June 6, 2011 @ 7:26 pm

  14. That is a lot of wood and certainly will be a lot of exercise. How wonderful to be able to provide your own fuel like that… and the satisfaction of sitting before the warmth of a fire that you chopped the wood for.


    Comment by Anna — June 6, 2011 @ 6:40 pm

    • Keeping warm with wood that I’ve worked hard for is very satisfying and enjoyable. Much more personal than buying other fuel.


      Comment by montucky — June 6, 2011 @ 7:28 pm

  15. oh my! I know my dad used to chop wood at his grandparent’s house and he talked about how it warmed you twice. I doubt though he ever chopped enough for three years! I cannot even imagine. that is some workout indeed!


    Comment by silken — June 8, 2011 @ 9:11 pm

    • I suppose it isn’t for everyone, but it’s very satisfying to see your accomplishments and enjoy the heat of the fire knowing that your work was in it.


      Comment by montucky — June 8, 2011 @ 9:43 pm

  16. I love this post. To me, who is living on countryside, but not so far away from a small village, was very interesting to see Your wood for three winters. Many years I felled trees from my late father’s lot and drove them to the South 291 km or 180 miles on my trailer. My trees were smaller and I felt all them using my handsaw! Them cutting them suitable size fitting to my trailer.

    When in home, I unloaded them, cut them to the suitable in length that I could use them in Sauna and in fireplace. Of course I had to dry them in huge heap and then to move them to storage of woods. Doing this way, I was in good condition. Nowadays I have to buy woods for winter. I am using during winter from 7 to 10 cubic meters or from 242 to 353 feet wood. This includes all the warming and wood for Sauna.
    Last winter I was using 10 cubic meters / 353 feet. We had during five months continuously extremely cold.
    I loved to see Your photos!


    Comment by sartenada — June 10, 2011 @ 1:27 am

    • Falling and cutting that much with a handsaw would undoubtably keep you in good condition! I use more wood than you do, probably because the lodgepole pine that I burn is softer and doesn’t burn as long the wood you have. There’s nothing like wood heat though, is there! We’re still having cool weather: I had to have a fire yesterday.


      Comment by montucky — June 10, 2011 @ 7:43 pm

  17. The talk of firewood warming you thrice reminds me of Aldo Leopold’s thought-provoking essay, called “Good Oak”, in his Sand County Almanac. You can read the beginning of it at this link, but it’s well worth finding a copy of the book and reading the whole essay.

    We have had stove-length wood delivered by the truckload and had to split and stack it, but I hadn’t thought of ordering a truckload of logs. We are in an area affected by mountain pine beetles as well, so should take advantage of the opportunity. The $1000 price tag made me gasp, though. But we know people whose monthly heating bill is $500 in the winter, which puts things in perspective, doesn’t it?


    Comment by Kim — June 10, 2011 @ 9:38 pm

    • This is the second time we have bought a truck load and I really like doing it that way. Considering the other fuel costs, it’s really inexpensive.

      Thanks for the link. I recall reading the essay long ago.


      Comment by montucky — June 10, 2011 @ 9:56 pm

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