The bashful winter

Look at all the choice ones!

Like much of North America, winter seems very hesitant this year in the U.P. Usually by the end of December, we have had many feet of snow (I believe we average around 240-250 inches a year) and are merrily cross-country skiing along the miles of great trails up here. Aside from a foot or so in early December and a snow shower here and there, we’ve had nothing. Nada. Bubkes. Very annoying for skiing, but great for log prep.

Well, it looks as though winter has finally arrived. You know that saying “Too cold to snow?” Not here. We are on a peninsula surrounded by Lake Superior, so when the air is cold and dry it picks up more moisture from the lake and dumps it on us as lake-effect snow. Just last week the icy Canadian blasts came to town and it looks like the trails will be ready this weekend (the U.S. Nationals were held here a few weeks ago and they had to truck in snow!)

In the meantime, here’s how it goes:

Makes me feel Scottish...

I throw the eight-foot logs off the top of the pile. The neighbor’s dog, Grady, is very excited about critters living in the log pile, but by the time I hoist the logs off, they’re long gone.

Choppy, choppy

We set the log on our sawbuck/cutting table and peel the bark off (usually it’s mostly fallen off anyway). We “borrowed” the plans for this from Bruce Barna, who helped his daughter Nicole build a cordwood “dorm room” not too far from here. The chainsaw attaches to a hinged plate. All we do is slide the log down the table until it hits the stop, pivot the saw through the log, pull the saw back up and repeat until we’ve cut up the entire log. At this point there’s a pile of 16-inch logs on the ground.

Clare (and her hat) moving logs

We move the logs to the pile – first, we filled up the kiln, then the back of the shed, now we’re working on a pile near the sawbuck.

The shed in all its plywood-clad glory

We hope to cordwood the shed walls this summer as we’re putting up the house frame and roof. This way we can experiment with various mortar mixes and techniques. Plus, cordwood shed!

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