Fall is my favorite time of year out on the farm, other than the very beginning of maple season. I get to spend long golden days out in the sugarbush cutting wood ready for the big boils of late winter and early spring. With our wood fired evaporator, we use a lot of firewood; up to 5 or six full cords over the course of a season, so we need to spend a significant amount of time and energy making sure our wood is just right.
My first season ended abruptly when my second rate wood pile was exhausted, prompting me to dump the remaining sap in my tank. As the 2012 runs were winding down, we almost ran out of fuel and had to resort to scavenging forgotten and passed over logs in the areas near the shack. I don’t to be in that situation EVER AGAIN! And so now I am spending at least one 5-hour chunk every week felling trees, each one selected for firewood based on certain criteria. I’ve been clearing a trail into a new section of sugarbush, felling overcrowded trees with too much lean, rotten branches, and ones that are crowding big producers. I have come to know these woods like I know the layout of my home; where the wet spots are, which areas need more thinning, where the deer like to rub, where the dog likes to do his business.
I cut logs in to movable chunks, carrying them to collection points then loading them into the truck, hauling loads down to the wood processing area just outside the sugarshack to cut again in some cases or chop, then one final haul to the growing stacks looming over the evaporator where the wood can cure and be as dry as possible when the season rolls in next year. I know the trees I have cut and sometimes have a memory as we are loading logs into the fire. All the logs that I have cut pass before me again and again; maple, cherry, ash, hornbeam, basswood, polar, pine, birch, oak. Fell, cut, haul, chop, stack … repeat. If boiling is the final goal, then woodcutting is the daily practice.