A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Hooptedoodle #164 – Logs

This is what I did on Saturday, and my aching back reminds me still. We finally burnt almost all the wood from our old Eucalyptus tree this Winter, and it was time to get in a new load. We use our log stove a lot – otherwise our heating is all provided by domestic LPG, and somehow the dramatic fall in world commodity prices has not yet been reflected in retail LPG delivery costs, so all possible help from the wood stove is very welcome.

Because it is almost three years now since we took a delivery of logs, I had rather lost touch with the world of firewood suppliers. A bit of poking around on the internet and a couple of phone calls and I arranged with Shane – who is based at a farm some 8 miles away or so – to deliver me one cubic metre of kiln-dried logs (for burning immediately) plus two cubic metres of barn-dried logs (to season during the year for next Winter). Round here, that’s a lot of logs, boys and girls.

Shane duly delivered the stuff to my driveway on Saturday morning, and my son and I spent the rest of the day clearing out the woodshed, tidying up our remaining logs and then shifting and stacking the new stuff. The result, as you see, is a wall of logs six-and-a-half feet high, by 3 logs deep (front to back) by whatever width this is. Because it is new and clean, and because I am pleased both with the quality of the logs and the achievement of stacking them, I took a commemorative photo.

Thank you, Shane – I’ll phone you again around two years from now, with luck.

Which, you will be sorry to learn, reminds of a very old tale…

One day, this enormous guy with a beard walks into a logging camp, and strides up to the boss, who is eating his breakfast.

“I’m O’Halloran,” says the big man, “you hiring lumberjacks?”

The boss looks up from his ham and eggs, and studies the giant before him.

“You worked as a lumberjack before?”

“What?” says the man, “I told you, I’m O’Halloran – I’m a legend among lumberjacks!”

“I’m sorry, Mr O’Halloran,” says the boss, “I never heard of you – where did you work before?”

“I worked in the Sahara Forest,” says O’Halloran, proudly.

“The Sahara? – but there are no trees in the Sahara…”

“Not now, there aren’t,” says O’Halloran.


  1. Nice looking wood. How do reach the top of the stack (safely)?

    I just had google translate cords to cubic meters and it seems I usually burn between 14 and 16 cubic meters of firewood per year.

    1. I can reach the top of 6.5 feet without problems - that's why I stopped at that height! Otherwise I get O'Halloran to give me a hand. It is good wood - there's beech and ash and all sorts in there - some of it smells quite exotic. I'm pleased to note that it all seems to burn nicely right off the truck, even the barn-dried stuff. We had a dodgy load a few years ago, which kept sooting-up the stove window and the flue, and introduced a nasty black mildew into the house for a while - we pay more attention now! We also, come to think of it, had a very pricey emergency load of kiln-dried logs delivered just before Christmas one year, because we had visitors coming - the driver tipped it in our driveway when we were out all day, and it was subjected to sleet and rain for the rest of the day. My, how we laughed.

      14-16 cu m is a lot of wood, no doubt. We live in a more temperate climate, I guess - I don't know how prices compare - certainly I would guess there's more wood available in Canada than here. I paid about £225 for the 3 cu metres, which is a reasonable price locally. Like everything else in Britain, we really only play at having a stove - we have a 6Kw wood-burner in our living room, which is over-spec for the room but looked better than a smaller one. We burn only logs - we used to have a coal grate, but gave it up when the central heating went in. During the winter, typically we probably light the stove about 3-4 times a week, and only if someone is going to be in the living room. The stove doesn't contribute to the water heating, which is handy since if it did we wouldn't be able to light it when the electric pump was not working, and we still get the odd power-cut here. Again, since we are playing at it, the occasions when we get power outages at night can be quite fun, lighting candle lanterns and getting the stove going. We only need a piano to accompany the hymns and we are pioneers all over again.

  2. Not sure if it's a patriotic thing or just that it burns well but I stick largely to maple.

    The first couple of years here I used to commute to Halifax to work and thus used the woodstove in the same fashion that you describe, relying on an oil furnace as primary heat source. It was a thirsty furnace with a taste for expensive oil and did a so so job of heating the old house. Shortly after I retired the oil tank hit its age limit so we switched to the wood stove as a primary source with a magic heat pump to back it up. Heats the whole house nicely at less cost ( a little over $300 Cdn per cord.) and provides plenty of exercise stacking it up then humping it into the house every other day regardless of weather for 5-6 months.

  3. That is an impressive day's work. I hope you treated yourself to a bath and a good scotch afterwards. That's what I did the first year I moved to Ross' part of Canada, Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley. In NS wood is as cheap as chips, and I discovered that every house on the market used wood stoves, backed up by costly electric baseboard heating. Fortunately the local O'Halloran, a scruffy looking local, showed up a week after moving day - he was the chap used by the previous owner, and was smart about keeping his customer base. I was a total wood stove tyro. How much did the previous owner use in a winter? "I reckon four split cords. You got one in your garage that I can say, so three?" The price seemed cheap, so two days later he showed up in my driveway, and dumped a cascade of logs, took his money, and left. My son, who was thirteen at the time and quite shiftless, looked at me aghast and said, "Isn't he going to stay and stack them for us?"

    1. Again, that is a fantastic amount of wood - I had a squint on the Internet, and $300 Canadian seems about the going rate for a cord these days. I'm not sure what a split cord is, but if a cord is 3-and-a-bit cu metres and if it is approximately 2 dollars to the UK pound then I reckon firewood in Canada is a bit less than half the cost of what it is here. I'm sure it is just as heavy and bulky and fiddly to handle!

      We use electricity for cooking and for laundry equipment etc, but our principal heating is by LPG - the price per litre of this stuff has been rising steeply for a few years, though a change of supplier was a life-saver for us - the quoted cost of domestic LPG here depends who you are, where you are and how likely you are to change your supplier soon. The prices only ever increase - I have never seen them come down, though bulk prices and energy prices are supposed to be dropping in the UK. Problem we have is that energy prices are monitored by a government ombudsman, but domestic LPG has too few users to get on the map - we have no customer rights, so as you would notice. We just have to follow my son around the house during the winter, turning down the radiators he has left turned up full - it's a sort of local sport.

    2. This really is a digression, but since I have been looking at energy-related matters of late I decided yesterday to phone in and request a gas delivery - our tank reads about 20%, so there is no immediate panic, but it would be handy to get it filled up while things are quiet, so we are set for the summer. We changed our supplier about 18 months ago, which has been a big saving - previously we were with a big national supplier who used to be the LPG arm of BP (Bastard Petroleum), and that was very like dealing with the Mafia, though I understand it is sometimes possible to negotiate with the Mafia.

      Anyway, I phoned the new supplier, who are small, and local, and interested, and spoke to a very nice young lady, who arranged to get us a load delivered in the near future. She was helpful and friendly, but there were a few moments in the conversation when I realised once again that I am losing touch, that communication has moved on beyond what I used to understand. None of this is significant, but on about three occasions during the phone call she asked me to confirm information - account number, post code and details of the account owner - on each occasion, her response was "that's no problem", which puzzles me a bit - does she mean, "thank you"?

      Last night I had a meal in a restaurant in the village - very good - great food, impeccable service. When I paid my bill, I gave a tip of about 15% to the waitress, which seemed fair - her response? - "no problem".

      Obviously it's just me, once again.

  4. I think it means "ok, that's enough that I'll let you go"

    1. I guess that's right. In recent years, in the UK, we have adopted American usage, which - as is often the case, I think - has German as the basis.

      You do something for me, I say "Thank you" (Danke schön)

      You reply with "You're welcome", which might evolve into "No problem" (Bitte schön) - it's a handshake ritual.

      That's all fine. The change which takes me by surprise is that if you do something for me and I reply with "no problem", we have moved to Bitte schön one step early, and have kind of reversed roles.

      If my wife gives me a lovely present for my birthday next month, I am not recommended to say "that's no problem" when I open it, I think. Wrong handshake ritual.

    2. I think Ross is right. At least "No problem" is superior in courtesy to the lesser form, "Whatever". When I thanked the propane guy for filling up my camper last summer, he said "Whatever, man". I thought about that for a long while.