Wood heat is great if firewood is
close by, ideally on your land. With the ever rising cost of gas
and diesel, going further than 4 miles to get wood seems cost
inefficient. One would be better served to spend the money instead
towards home energy efficiency. See Home
||A cord is a unit of measurement for firewood
that is 128 cubic feet by volume or a stack 4'x4'x8'. Roughly
we use between 4 and 5 cords a year to heat a 2400 sq ' home
with a medium sized wood stove.
We also use electric oil filled radiator
type heaters you can get at Home Depot or Walmart for under $40
in all the bedrooms and bathrooms for supplementary heating when
needed. The oil in the radiator retains heat making these thermostat
controlled heaters efficient.
When the home is well insulated,
any type of wood, as long as it is dry, will be fine for firewood.
It does not have to be premium wood with the highest Btu ratings.
That makes firewood easier and cheaper to get.
My belief is if the wood is not on
your land, it would be better to have a log truck load delivered
instead of going out to get some and save the time, wear and tare
on your equipment and yourself. Getting fire wood is a lot of
hard work. A log truck load is usually about 12 cords and the
cost is typically $1000 to $2000+ depending on the tree species,
availability and the distance of haul. 12 cords should last 2
to 4 years depending on how well insulated a house is. Birch,
Larch and Douglas Fir are the premium fire wood in our neck of
the woods. The logs need to be cut to length, split and stacked
out of the weather.
Make sure a log truck can easily
get in and out of the place where you want the logs unloaded.
The truck will have a self loader behind the cab, a hydraulically
operated boom with a grapple to pick the logs off the trailer.
12 cords will take up a significant amount of room, the logs will
weigh over 30,000 lbs and some will be over 30' in length. It's
a nice comforting sight to see though, offering the promise of
warmth for a few winters. An old saying goes "If you're cold,
go chop some wood. It'll warm you up now and later."
Firewood for sale usually advertise
a cord of wood split and delivered for $150 to $200+. If a cord
of wood is being delivered in a pickup truck, you're getting "burned"
because it is impossible to safely haul a stack of wood 4'x4x'8',
especially at highway speeds. A cord of dry firewood would weigh
between 2000 to 3000 lbs depending on the type and density of
the wood. Premium firewood implies dense and heavy wood and would
have to be delivered on a trailer or at least a 1 ton flatbed.
A pick up truck can be modified to carry the weight but the bed
simply does not have the volume capacity needed for 128 cu'. The
stack would be at least 4' high making the load dangerously top
heavy with loss of safe steering due to weight imbalance.
Firewood Ratings an Info.
About 10 to 20 acres of trees, depending
on age, density and type, should suffice for modest harvesting
of 3 to 5 cords of wood a year indefinitely. Harvesting is culling
dead trees, downed trees or diseased trees, not healthy live ones.
There should be trees at all growing stages from mature seed trees
to seedlings and everything in between.
|Climate plays a major role in the growth
rate of trees and generally wetter the climate faster the
trees grow. Here in our particular area of north Eastern Washington
State, in Pend Oreille County, trees thrive due to the yearly
precipitation rate over 30".
There are 9 types of evergreen trees,
including Western Larch which sheds its needles in late fall,
plus deciduous trees. 10 to 20 acres of pines in a dry climate
will not suffice as a continuous source of firewood due to slow
recovery and growth rate.
If there are adequate ground water
and precipitation birch can be grown for firewood. It grows fast,
pretty to look at as trees or firewood and best of all burns very
hot. Birch is the preferred premium firewood around here for its
aesthetics and Btu.
Growing white birch is on my list
of future projects with the eventual goal of about a 5 acre stand.
Birch unlike evergreens decay very quickly after death and need
to be harvested green. If cut to length, split and stacked out
of the weather in early spring, it should be ready to burn by
Birch is very hardy and easy to transplant.
I have gone into the woods and dug up saplings up to 2' tall to
plant for landscaping with good results. Pruning and removal of
leaves is a must to help the tree recover and to re-establish.
When birch is cut down, it regenerates by growing new shoots from
the stump area and becoming a clump and by thinning these shoots
the clump can turn into 3 to 5 vigorous trees. I have not tried
yet but propagation by cuttings should be possible.
Paper birch bark closeup.
Birch clump from a stump.
"He plants trees to benefit another generation."
Caecilius Statius (220 BC - 168 BC)
"He that plants trees loves others besides
himself." English Proverb
Information on paper
birch from the North Carolina State University Horticultural
Detailed information on paper birch (Betula
Papyrifera) from USDA
Forest Service, also called white birch, canoe birch
or silver birch.