misty march morning

Stand of timber just west of my parents by my buddy Jim’s


Wood heat.

I grew up with it.

My parents still heat their  farmhouse with wood,  and dad is 84.

I love wood heat.

I love everything that goes along with heating with wood,  the smell of wood chips and chainsaw oil.  Working up a good sweat. The satisfaction of a nicely stacked pile of wood. The sense of security, knowing you have enough wood laid up, for the whole winter…come what may…. and the smell of a hickory fire on a cold fall morning….

I just got back in the house this morning after a brisk one mile walk to the corner…it’s up hill the last 1/2 of the route….  I found myself thinking about that timber just west of my buddy Jim’s and the day he and I cut wood.   We had just a few weeks until the bulldozers  showed up to push all the trees into a pile then burn them.

Oak,  hickory, live trees, dead trees, 20 acres of  mature timber.

Land prices had sky rocketed and suddenly this “worthless” timber, was now worth $500 an acre per year…for corn ground that is.

As Jim and I walked the ground that Saturday morning, trying to decide which trees would be the easiest to get to, I came across a downed bee tree.    Wild honeybees were going in and out of the cracks of this massive old oak.  Jim and I decided to leave well enough along.  There were enough other trees to cut up, we didn’t need to be stirring up a bee hive….literally  😉

Well, that was  three years ago.    Since then, the bottom dropped out of the corn market.  Land is no longer worth $500 an acre to rent….

and that beautiful stand of timber,

it is no longer,  except in my memory.

Makes me wonder if those wild honey bees survived.

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7 Responses to Timber

  1. Deb says:

    A lot of things resonant with me when I read this post DM. In my area, forests are being cut down to make room for housing. New developments go up one after another. We’ve already lost most of our older, established farm lands to corporations who think industrial warehouses would serve someone more profitably. The honey bees in your story are the forest animals displaced in mine, the deer especially have lost their protected land, as well as bear and even cougar.
    Also, wood fires and that unmistakable smell…lots of maple and alder and cedar here. 1) Many in my family owned adjoining properties on a local lake when I was young. We heated our cabin with wood- a big old black wood stove. We also cooked on that stove. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I really realized just how awesome that thing was, and how much I had learned from spending time tending that thing, learning to respect it and being warmed by it. 2) Campfires- sitting around the fire pit, often early in the morning but mostly late at night. We never needed the heat of a fire in the summer, but I was told it helped keep mosquito’s away. 3) First home after marriage had a small wood stove surrounded by brick. We used wood from the lake property and heated our home with that. So many cords of wood were split and stacked along the back fence line.
    Anytime that I smell a real wood fire I instantly go back to those, and other equally good, memories. Thanks for bringing me to them this morning 🙂

    • DM says:

      love hearing your memories Deb. I am more aware just how much smells and certain foods (My grandma’s home made rye bread and swiss cheese) trigger memories and feelings…Srong, good memories. DM

  2. shoreacres says:

    I realized during my recent trip how little I understand forests, and all the issues involved with wood. I was prepared to be incensed about the pines I saw being cut in an Arkansas forest, but then I learned that they had been planted by a company (I don’t remember which one, just now) and the reason they’re being removed is to begin the process of restoring the hardwoods in the bottomland. So what goes around comes around, and appearances aren’t always what they seem.

    I did laugh last week. The old joke about the Indian saying it would be a hard winter because the white man is building a big woodpile has its own version down here. We know it’s going to be cold when the grocery stores start selling five or six split pieces of wood for ten dollars — and they sell out in two days to apartment dwellers who turn on the AC to make it cool enough to burn wood.

    • DM says:

      I need to get my foot in the door selling firewood down your way 😉 My son in law told me this weekend, where a large pile of hickory was just waiting to be burnt by the landowner. even if I sold it for $5 a bundle 🙂 everyone would be happy.

  3. I’ve always loved that photo of the timber – and so I am saddened to hear that it is no more (and apparently hasn’t been for awhile!). I guess the silver lining is that you were able to get use out of the trees and that you don’t have a monoculture crop of corn in its place. Hopefully Mother Nature will plant more trees there…
    We heat our home with a woodstove – I do love the warmth and crackle of a good fire, but there are days when I am sorely tempted to fire up the electric heat. Then I remember the high electric bills that would follow and I trudge out to the woodshed and load up.

    • DM says:

      I remember M telling me, when you build your new home @ the farm, he was hoping to heat it with an energy efficient thing….the name escapes me…something like a rocket stove ? I remember reading the link @ the time….

      • yes – a rocket mass heater – you can use stick wood so we plan to use coppice wood which grows faster than trees you cut down for firewood. it is extremely efficient so you use a lot less wood and it basically emits no pollution because it runs so hot

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