Part of living off the land in Canada, involves finding ways to stay warm and gathering your own firewood. We have worked with chainsaws before but found them too destructive and disruptive: the noise and the fumes they create prevent us from enjoying the contact with nature; the sensation and the sound of the wind, the feel of the sun and the smell of the wood. It scares the animals and it’s also an environmental and health hazard. Cutting wood is like anything else. It’s about enjoying the process, being mindful and in the moment. What else could be more important than securing a resource that will keep you warm and doesn’t fuel war and suffering like petroleum and coal do ?
We try to work outside as much as possible because staying active keeps you warm and keeps you in good shape. An old Chinese proverb goes like this: Wood heats you twice, when you cut it and when you burn it. In fact, while we cut our wood outside, we don’t heat our cabin. The Cabin actually heats itself with heat stored in water. See how we do this in the posts about heating. Sound extreme? Not really, people have live longer like this than heating 24/7.
In order to get our wood, we carefully select trees to be cut, weeding out the ones that are growing too close together, interfering with each other. We open spaces around special trees that we want to keep for food, medicine or aesthetic reasons. It is a privilege to be and feel part of nature. Birds, hares, deer, ,squirrels and porcupines make their presence known through scats, tracks and the results of their foraging and noises.
We have a number of different pruning saws that we use to delimb and a variety of bow saws. Bow saws, if of good quality and used proficiently become almost effortless. We have realized that it’s more a matter of increase blood flow than building muscle. As you keep at it, the diameter of your veins increase. The body can adapt to almost anything.
We have a two person bow saw for cutting large logs. I can recommend this tool as marriage counseling aid. Sylvain has also made a number of wooden saw horses for cutting down the logs. This is much easier on the back and safer than trying to prop logs up on stumps. We have about four of these saw horses that we leave in the areas where we are working, so we don’t have to move them very far. Some of the wood we harvest, we cut into 2 foot lengths and stack it to dry in order to use it for a cord word cabin we are planning to build in the next two years. The wood not only has to dry for the cord word cabin but the bark has to be removed too. Debarking sapless wood in the winter is a torturous task so we prefer to let nature do the work by letting the bark dry and fall off in the coming year.
Community is about like minded people working together. People interested in learning about hand tools and harvesting wood in winter can contact us and we’ll organize an outing with snowshoes. You have to have your snowshoes but we provide the tools to cut the wood. The session last two hours. This includes a vegetarian meal made from our garden and most likely a good discussion. Not for fainthearted, the discussion, we mean !. We charge $45.00 for a couple. We will also show you how to build a log cutting bench that you can take with you, if desired, for $20.00
“Spirituality without a ground in daily work tends to be abstract and ultimately irrelevant. Practical labor without a spiritual base is unconscious, narcissistic, and one-dimensional. It lacks the richness of good ideas, deep ethics and inspiration. The spiritual and the practical need each other. Without the spiritual, work is a mere job.” Thomas Moore