Winter was long again this year, but I have to say it was full of surprise, and numerous challenges. In the north woods, winter is pretty much a year 'round concern. Around here, they say there are two seasons: winter, and getting ready for winter.
Our shop is heated by wood stove, so we buck a lot of logs in the summer. It's a team effort. I'm the chain saw man, and Sarah rolls the rounds into the truck. We take a drive into the mountains looking for downed fir or tamarack, which are known for putting out the most heat. We bring a picnic basket, and do our best to make a plain chore into a nice, scenic outting. Before we get started, give me a few minutes to fix the chainsaw...
It takes about 3 cords of firewood to get us through winter. We heat the cabin with 5, so all-told we do a lot of splitting and stacking. Spring is the best time. The weather is cool, and it's good to get out. Hot summer weather is for cooking the wood dry -- while we sip lemonaide.
Wood heat is the best way to dry brooms in our shop. We soak the broom corn to make it pliable for bending and weaving. A wood fire dries them quick, so we can get them packaged and shipped. When we're not busy building brooms or pouring candles, it's likely we are splitting kindling or stoking the fires. It's a style of living that has a lot of rewards, if you can ignore a little pain and sweat. They say nothing warms your bones quite like a wood fire!
The cold of winter aint so bad, really. There are always a lot of surprises. Deer come to feed outside our shop windows during the day, keeping us company. Our yellow dog, Tig, is always entertaining. Coyotes sneak through. And once in a while we get a glimse of the snowshoe hare that lives in the thicket by the shop.
It is a little sad to say goodbye to winter -- but we're always excited for the changes. Spring means working outside again, making brooms out on the shop porch. The birds are here, singing their songs. We'll plant the garden and do some spring cleaning. Then -- when the mood is right -- I'll try to fire up the old chainsaw, and see if it runs. Maybe we'll load the tools, and try to find an easy wood log along side a skid trail up on the mountain. No rush. We have plenty of time to get ready...