The old oak tree stood maybe 40 feet tall, one of the sentinel trees on the side hill back of the cabin. A couple years ago the tree died; no one knew why. The bark had fallen from the upper branches and were bleached white from the summer sun. But the tree remained sturdy and strong—and had become a prime candidate for firewood to feed our every hungry wood stove that warms our cabin and cooks our food during the cool days of fall and the long, cold days of winter.
Making wood has become a fall-day tradition for many years at the cabin. The family gathers and together we, cut, split and pile the wood on the outside of the woodshed where it dries for the winter. The wood we burn this season was cut a year ago—well seasoned and dry firewood is not only safer to burn (far less danger of chimney fires) but it also is easier to start and burns better.
Steve handles the chainsaw these days; Paul is in charge of the cant hook—which helps to prevent the chainsaw from pinching when the tree is down. Once the tree is sawed into chunks, I haul them to the shed with the tractor and there, with a log splitter, Steve and grandson, Ben slice the big chunks into cook stove size pieces while Paul hauls the split wood with the tractor to the woodshed where he not only stacks the wood but makes the stack look like an artist’s work.
Daughter Sue and Ruth prepare an enormous noon meal for the hungry wood cutting crew and the work continues throughout the afternoon until the wood is all piled. I am reminded of the wood cutting bees we had on the home farm when I was a kid. When the neighbors came to help slice the oak logs into manageable hunks. In those days there were no chain saws, and no mechanical wood splitters. Just two-man cross cut saws, axes, and splitting mauls. All hand labor. Except for Guy York’s circle saw that made the rounds of the neighbors, slicing long oak logs into manageable chunks of wood—the work we do these days with a chainsaw. The good old days?
THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Daughter Sue said it. “Bacon never tastes better than when it is prepared on a wood burning cook stove.”
November 7, 5:30 dinner. Platteville Historical Society, Platteville, WI. “Garden Wisdom.” 1st English Lutheran Church, 215 W. Pine St., Platteville.
November 11, 5:15 p.m. Wisconsin Book Festival, Madison, Overture Center,
November 12, 10:00 a.m. Radio show, WBEV-AM, Beaver Dam. Brenda Murphy Show. “Tamarack River Ghost.
November 13, Barnes and Noble Book Store, Madison West. 7:00 p.m. Launch of“Tamarack River Ghost.”
November 14, Columbus, Wi Public Library. 6:00 p.m. “Tamarack River Ghost.”
November 15, 7:00 p.m. Brown County Central Library, 515 Pine Street, Green Bay, WI. Showing of “Jerry Apps: A Farm Story.” Wis. Public TV. Free to the public. Reception with cider and cookies. Apps will speak and take questions from the audience following the show.
November 28, 7:00 p.m. “Jerry Apps: A Farm Story.” State-wide broadcast on all Wisconsin Public TV stations.
December 1, 10:30-2:30 Fireside Bookstore, West Bend, WI. 10:30-2:00 p.m. Presentation at 11:00. “Tamarack River Ghost.”
December 3, 6:30 p.m. Patterson Memorial Library, Wild Rose. Dinner and book launch for “Tamarack River Ghost.” Call 920-622-3855 for reservations.
December 8, 9:30-11:30, Sheboygan Falls Memorial Library, Garden Wisdom. Sponsored by Sheboygan County Historical Research Center.
December 15, 11:00 -12:30. Wisconsin Historical Society Museum, Downtown Madison. Booksigning.