Clear blue sky. Bright sunshine. Temperature in the 50s. We are making wood at Roshara. Steve on the chainsaw. Natasha all around helper. Me in charge of hauling with the ATV.
The previous day I went on a scouting mission, searching for a dead oak—of which we have several (oak wilt disease). I found one, not too big, not too small, and close to the cabin.
Soon the dead oak is down, and quickly sawed into chunks and loaded in the back of the ATV. Three trips to the cabin and a substantial pile of oak chunks is now ready for splitting. A few years ago I did the splitting (turning the blocks into smaller pieces) with a maul, then Steve took on the splitting job, and now we have a mechanical splitter that does the work for us.
By mid-afternoon we are finished. A pile of sweet smelling, freshly split oak is piled on the end of the woodshed—there for a year to dry before we burn it.
As we worked I remembered how we made wood when I was a kid, many times more of it than we did today. We heated our drafty farm house with two wood stoves, kept another stove going in the pump house to keep the pump from freezing, and still another in the potato cellar to protect the potatoes from frost.
In those days, we cut down several oaks in our 20 acre woodlot back of our house using a two-person crosscut saw—there were no chainsaws. We hauled the long pieces of oak wood to the farmyard with our team of horses, stacking the wood as high as we could reach.
When Pa deemed the stack of wood large enough, we invited the neighbors—they also heated their homes with wood stoves—to help saw the wood into shorter pieces. One of the neighbors had a gasoline engine powered circle saw that did the cutting.
But the work was not yet done. We now had the task of splitting the wood into pieces—smaller pieces for the kitchen cook stove, larger pieces for the wood burning heaters. And then we carried a goodly amount of the split wood into the woodshed, which was attached to the west side of the house.
Making wood took up a substantial amount of time in the late fall, when the other farm work was done. Usually, in mid to late winter we ran out of wood and we repeated the process.
Today, making wood is much easier, but a necessary task at Roshara as we have two wood burning stoves in our cabin. And I must say, the day we spend making wood each fall is one of the most fun days we have all year.
THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Who ever said cutting wood warms you twice, hasn’t really done it.
Workshop: Writing From Your Life: Offered at The Clearing, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on October 28. Call 920-854-4088 to learn more and to register. A few openings remain. TELLING YOUR STORY book used as a textbook in the workshop.
October 26, Wednesday, 6:00 p.m, Carroll University, Community Conversation about Frac Sand Mining in Wisconsin. Shattuck Music Center, 100 N. E. Avenue, Waukesha, WI. Readings from THE GREAT SAND FRACAS OF AMES COUNTRY. Open to the Public
October 28, 9-4. Writing from your life—writing workshop at the Clearing in Door County (see above for details)
November 3, 6:30. Rock Springs Public Library, 6:30.
November 5, 10:00 a.m. Patterson Memorial Library, Wild Rose, Roshara Journal
November 10, 7:00 p.m. Menomonie Falls Public Library. One-Room Schools
Purchase Jerry’s DVDS and his Books from the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose, Wisconsin (a fundraiser for them):
The library now has available signed copies of Jerry’s DVDs:
Emmy Winner, A Farm Winter with Jerry Apps (based on The Quiet Season book.)
Jerry Apps a Farm Story (based on Rural Wit and Wisdom and Old Farm books.)
The Land with Jerry Apps, (based on the book Whispers and Shadows.)
Also available are several of Jerry’s signed books including: Jerry’s newest novel, The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County. and Wisconsin Agriculture: A History.
Jerry’s newest books, Roshara Journal (with photos by Steve Apps) and Telling Your Story—a guide book for those who want to write their stories—are also available.
Contact the library for prices and special package deals.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street