Filed under: Corn, Farm, harvest, Ice, rain, spring, Trees, wind, wood heat | Tags: broken trees, cold, farm, harvest, nature, rain, shelter belts, spring, trees, weather, wind, winter, wood, wood heat, wood pile
Those of you who follow this blog will remember my pictures of the broken trees in our yard, but they are only a few of our broken trees. Our farmstead shelter belts took a heavy toll in the ice storm also. So far we have focused on getting trees near the buildings cleaned up. Because conditions have been so wet we have had little choice. Now we need to tackle the field wind breaks.
Our farm has several fence lines planted to trees to help slow the wind that could blow our soil around. These trees on the edge of fields drop their branches into plantable ground in heavy winds or if there is too much ice. Sometimes the branches are quite large. Since our fields are just about dry enough to start planting, we are going to tackle some of those fence lines now.
The wood pile looks ready for winter now, and I still have a lot of cutting yet to do. Cold weather will return again.
Filed under: Ice, Trees, winter, wood heat | Tags: Bobcat, Bobcat 3400, chain saws, chainsaw, farm, ice, Stihl, Stihl chainsaw, trees, winter, wood, wood heat, wood pile
My wood pile had gotten kind of small with all of the cold weather we had this year so a strong wood cutting season is in order. To do this you need tools. Chain saws, wood splitting equipment and some way to get the wood from point A to point B.
I have three chain saws. This Stihl professional duty is my biggest, I also have a smaller one for cutting smaller limbs and a pole saw to reach up and get some of those branches that broke off but have not yet let go of the tree. Then I have the Bobcat 3400 to either carry or drag branches to where they need to go.
I really have only gotten a start on the job of clearing broken branches, the weather has not been very good for outdoor work. So I work on the ones that are in the way now and go back to the others later.
When the log is too big, I need a variety of splitting malls, hammers and wedges to break those logs down. Yes, I do have a motor powered hydraulic wood splitter, but that means I have to have a large pile of big logs to split. If there are only a few, I start swinging. It’s good exercise.
Since my main source of heat is fallen branches and dead trees, I always have a bit of work to do each year. The wood needs to dry in the pile at least six months before I use it, so what I am cutting now is for later in the winter. It sure is better than just piling them and burning them for no purpose.
Filed under: cold, Farm, house, Minnesota, weather, winter, wood heat | Tags: below zero, cold, cold north wind, daytime temperatures, Minnesota, minnesota cold, weather, wind chill, winter, wood burner, wood heat
I’ve made a couple of trips out into the Minnesota cold this morning to feed the critters and the wood stove, and believe me I’m looking for an excuse to stay inside all day. This is the kind of cold I remember from my younger days. With daytime temperatures forecast to stay below zero for the first time since January of 2009, we just do not remember this kind of cold so well. Then there is that cold north wind blowing down from the arctic to bite through our clothing, it feels like about 30 below. Yep, I think I’ll do some book work. There must be a few other jobs I’ve been putting off for a cold day, time to do them.
OK, so this is a picture of my wood burner from a warmer day, but the woodpile is still looking good. We’re keeping the house warm on the dead trees and broken branches of years past. Still, I must go outside to warm up the inside of our house, and that is a chilly trip today.
Filed under: cold, Corn Stove, Trees, weather, winter, wood heat | Tags: burning wood, farm, fireplace, heating with wood, wood, wood burning stove, wood heat, wood stove
“Every man looks at his wood pile with a kind of affection.” Henry David Thoreau
I’ve been heating with wood now for over 30 years. Every fall I look at the wood pile and hope it is enough to get me though the winter. This year there is no doubt. I’ve got enough wood to get through this winter and into the next.
When I first moved to this house we had a cast iron stove sitting in the living room, and a sheet metal stove in the basement. Although I had a gas furnace, I planned on it only running when I was not home. Through the years the basement stove has been replaced with a corn stove, and the living room wood stove with a gas one, but I still heat with wood.
Three years ago I bought a Central Boiler wood furnace. This wood burner sits outside so it keeps all the mess of wood burning outside. The Central Boiler heats water and then pumps the heated water into the house. This hot water first goes to the water heater where it leaves some nice hot water for us, then it goes to a radiator in the furnace plenum. When the furnace fan kicks in we get hot air right away, no waiting for the furnace fire to kick in. Before the hot water goes back to the boiler it makes a trip to my shop where it helps keep that building warm.
Over the years I’ve learned a few things that may help you with your burning questions as you contemplate heating with wood.
- A fireplace is nice, but to get the most heat you need an enclosed stove.
- Burn dry wood, it is less of a fire hazard for your chimney.
- Clean your chimney. No matter how hard you try you cannot avoid a chimney fire, cleaning it properly keeps chimney fires from happening so often.
- Burn your fire hot, then let it go out. A slow smokey fire adds creosote to your chimney, a hot fast fire helps keep that chimney clean.
- Air dry your wood for at least 6 months before burning, longer if possible.
- Wood stored inside molds, wood stored outside dries even in rainy weather. Having a roof over your wood is nice, but walls are bad for drying wood.
- Keep you wood off of the ground. I like to store my wood on old pallets. This allows air to get under the wood. It also discourages rot where wood touches earth.
- Rotate your wood pile. Burn the oldest wood first. It helps keep insect populations at bay, and keeps rodent nests cleaned out.
- All woods do not produce the same amount of heat. Ash, oak, hard maple, beech, birch, hickory, pecan and dogwood produce the most heat.
- Some woods are not good for your chimney. Pine and fir cause more creosote build up and chimney fries than other woods.
- Some fires smell better. There is nothing like the smell of a hickory or apple fire, most fruit and nut woods smell nice when burned outside in your fire pit.
- Some wood stinks when burned. A cottonwood fire is truly vile.
- If you cut wood, you need to plant trees.
Wood heats a man twice. Once when he cuts it and again when it is burned. Enjoy your wood fires.
Filed under: cold, Farm, Minnesota, Trees, winter, wood heat | Tags: cold, cutting wood, farm, machines, Minnesota, trees, weather, wood heat
Some changes happened at my house today, can you see it?
The two spruce trees that have been in front of our house for at least 75 years are gone. It’s a big change.
We really had enjoyed those trees, it’s just that lately they have been losing more needles than they have been producing. They just had to go.
It was interesting to count the rings and see the record of the good years and the bad years the tree had survived.
I got home from my school bus route and the first tree was already gone, and they were notching the second one in preparation for dropping it. It came down exactly where it was supposed to.
The crew cut off and shredded the branches, cut the trunk up into manageable lengths, and piled the logs for me to process later.
They ground up the stump, leaving only a small hole for me to fill later.
My wood pile which was large before is huge now. I could have enough wood for two years out there now.
I do love a large wood pile with the prospect of a cold winter ahead.
Filed under: cold, house, Minnesota, weather, winter, wood heat | Tags: cutting wood, trees, weather, winter, wood fired boiler, wood heat, wood pile
Summer heat is not the time to think about winters cold winds. Those of us who use wood for winter heat must get out and cut wood anyway. My summer had not added enough wood to the stack to get me through winter. Now that the days have gotten colder I have found the energy to really get cutting. With several dead trees still standing at my dads place, we got the saws busy and cut wood.
In fact my woodpile has never been so big. I have been adding new places to stack wood wherever it is handy. Yep, that’s another trees worth of wood on the trailer looking for a place to spend the winter.
The tree I cut today had been bothering me for some time. It had to fall north, and the way the branches hung it wanted to go either south or east. With a building only a few feet to the south, and some trees to get hung up in both east and west, it would be an interesting cut. Besides that, the old elm had been dead several years and I could just see the winters winds blowing it into that building that was south of it. Today the wind was gusting out of the south, so I cut it. We had a bit of a scare when it tried to go south, but a gust of wind, and it fell just right.
With the outside wood fired boiler I put in two years ago I need a lot of wood. This year I have outdone myself in preparing for winter. I should have all of the wood I need to heat my house and shop already. The trouble is there are more trees that have to be cut and I’m gong to have to find a place to put the wood. There is always the next winter after all.
Filed under: Farm, Minnesota, snow, Trees, winter, wood heat | Tags: cutting wood, farm, Minnesota, trees, wood heat
For me, the time between the snow melting out of the grove and planting season is for cutting wood. We always seem to have dead or broken trees that need to be cleaned up. There are also some branches that are hanging over or near buildings, or out into the field. Well it’s that season, and I’m at it.
We still have some snow in the grove, but so far I’ve been able to work in areas that are not too wet. We cut an elm that somehow survived Dutch Elm Disease and are working on splitting and stacking that today. The size of the trunk has put my body to the test. I’m feeling old and sore.
So far I’ve only really looked at the trees at my dads place. Mine got trimmed out last fall. I also know I have a few trees I can take at my uncles place, so I will have plenty of wood. I’m going to try to get at least half of next winters wood stacked before planting. I should be able to finish the rest during the summer.
I have about a months worth of wood that I cut late last fall and early winter to start next heating season. It’s best if wood has at least 6 months to dry. Even dead wood on a tree can contain some moisture, so it needs to be cut to stove length and split. My stove will take up to a 4 foot log, but most larger logs need to be under 26 inches to go through the splitter.
I know I’ll be sore from lugging logs and chain saws for a few days, but I best keep at it. In Minnesota, winter is either here, or just a few months in the future.
Filed under: Biofuels, cold, Corn, Corn Stove, home addition, house, Minnesota, winter, wood heat | Tags: alternative energy sources, cold, Corn, electric heat, energy sources, farm, Minnesota, solar heat, winter, wood heat
I have to admit I’m a bit unconventional when it comes to the heat sources for my home. The very fact that I have multiple heat sources is in itself unconventional. It does make for some interesting conversation when we talk of cold and how we stay warm.
I purchased the house I live in in the late 70′s, not for the house, but for the land it sits on. As a young farmer at the time I was looking for land to farm, and this piece was near the rest of the families farmland. Having just met my eventually to be wife, the house was not part of my thought process.
The house is a two story Gordon Van Tine model # 501 purchased by previous owners as a precut, build it yourself house in 1925. It had a full basement, kitchen, living room, dining room, entry porch and back porch on the main level and three bedrooms, bath and a sleeping porch on the second floor when we bought it. Since then a half bath, office, family room and screen porch have been added on the main level where the old back porch used to be.
When we bought the house it had an older LP gas furnace in it that never seemed to quit running in the winter. This was a replacement for the old coal fired furnace that was original to the house. The replacement of the older LP furnace in the early 80′s helped us increase our furnaces efficiency.
One of our first additions to the heat was the purchase of a cast iron wood burning “parlor” stove for the living room. This and a wood burner in the basement kept us warm for several winters. Since we have access to several farm site tree stands, I have plenty of wood just cleaning up the fallen trees and trimming branches that are in the way.
The 80′s were a period of increasing fuel costs and the first big push in solar energy. The house now has 3 air to air solar collectors on it. One of which helps warm the living room and the other two heat a rock bed under the office and family room.
When we added a mud room onto the house we placed coils of tubing into the floor so that we could heat that room with hot water. Heating coils were also added later under the floor of the kitchen and the front entry to help heat those rooms. A small electric boiler was added as the heat source for these rooms.
Five years ago I replaced the basement wood stove with a pellet stove. This stove will burn either compressed pellets of sawdust, or kernels of corn. Even with the current high prices of corn I can afford to burn corn as a heat source. It requires about the same amount of work as a wood stove, but is overall cleaner having less ash and a smaller chance of smoke entering the house.
After a chimney fire three years ago we had to replace the parlor stove. In it’s place went a LP gas fired “parlor stove” that adds the heat, but not the dirt, smoke and insects associated with wood heat.
Also at that time we installed an outdoor wood burning furnace. This heat source uses wood to heat water, which is used to transfer heat to my house and shop. The hot water also adds a boost to our water heater.
There are also three small electric space heaters to help heat up rooms like the bathroom when you are using those rooms.
So there you have it. I have 5 sources of heat for my house, wood, corn, solar, LP and electricity. Unfortunately 4 of those sources need electricity to run. As you might expect, I’m looking for a way to produce my own electricity also. I’ll not be happy until I have no need for a fuel truck to come to my farm.