Stacking firewood at midnight.

The scene of the midnight action.

OK, readers.  This wasn’t as much fun as our Chili Party at Midnight last summer.

I am also sneaking this blog in before the promised photo-blog of more beautiful autumn colors.  You fall photo fans, hold your horses.  The colorful leaves shall appear soon.  I promise.

Here’s what happened last night.  We ate supper early, around 5 p.m.  Greek salad and goulash, in case you wanted to know.  Barry had helped his friend, John, pull out his boat at the marina yesterday afternoon and power-wash it.

We checked the weather forecast.

“Heavy rain tomorrow,” announced Barry. “We have to split two more loads of firewood before my surgeries.  You up to splitting another load?”

The surgeries he is referring to include a 1) heart catheterization next week–which is not really a surgery–just an outpatient procedure in which they drive a long tube up your groin headed for your heart to check things out.  He’s being doctored for an irregular heartbeat, for those not in the know, and 2) arthroscopic knee surgery the following week.

So off we skipped–I mean walked and limped–to the wood pile to split another load of wood.

It’s what we do every nice evening.  For you non-wood splitters, here’s the routine.

When I was a spry chick in June 2009

1.  We uncover the tarp from the tractor.

2.  I start the finicky 1949 Studebaker pickup truck and back it up to the woodsplitter. 

3.  We start the woodsplitter.  (I am leaving out some minor steps like moving the woodsplitter and tractor, but you get the gist, right?)  We put on earphones and gloves.

4.  Barry picks up the heavy logs which have been chainsawed into manageable pieces and places them on the woodsplitter.

5.  Kathy operates the lever which moves a crushing metal bar against the log toward the gleaming silver splitting head.

6.  The large log splits into chunks.

7.  Kathy and Barry carry the logs over to the Studebaker and stack rows.  Usually we stack three rows one night; two rows the following night.

8.  When our rows are filled we turn off the tractor and splitter and cover it.  One of us drives the truck back to our permanent woodpile.  We then unload it.  Which means you must re-handle every log and stack it nicely, no cheating or throwing wildly.  It also means pulling yourself up into the back of the truck at least three or four times to help unload. 

(Did you read that carefully?  There will be a quiz.)

The delivery scene last winter. One truckload of wood. At least we didn't have to cut down the trees this time!

Back to last night.  We split up our load of wood.  Only one slight scrape on Barry’s palm.  No other injuries.  We are very careful.  Splitting wood is a job which requires full attention.

“You want to unload the truck, too?” asks my splitting partner.

“Absolutely not,” Kathy replies.  “We’ve done more work that usual tonight.  And you have overdone it on your knee.  No.  Absolutely not.”

Kathy decides to look at other blog layout formats–to try out some new blog clothes.  She can’t decide anything.  She goes to bed at 9:30.  Snooze…snooze…oh no, it’s going to be one of those nights.  You lie in bed and watch your mind thinking and creating and singing and dancing and doing everything BUT sleeping.

By 10:15 she’s up.  Barry comes in from the garage.

“We’re getting old,” says he.

“Speak for yourself,” says she.

“Want to unload the wood?” asks he.

“Absolutely not,” says she.  “Are you nuts?”

Another hour passes.  Barry reads my blog.  “Wow, you have over 300 hits!” he announces. 

“I don’t know what’s happening,” she gasps.  “Two days in a row!  The world’s done gone crazy!”

“Maybe,” she continues, “they all want to see the new the new layout.  Or maybe–they keep checking to see if it’s changed…”

Of course thinking about this does not make one sleepy.

“Let’s go stack a load,” the insistent slave-driver suggests again.

“I do not work after 9:30 p.m.,” snarls the lady of the house.

“It’s going to rain, Kathy!” the pre-surgery patient begs.  “We need to get that wood stacked…”

Long pause.  Long pregnant pause in which the sleepless non-worker ponders life.  Thinks about how inflexible she’s being.  And says–

“OK, buddy, let’s go.  Time to stack our firewood at midnight.”

I LOVE this picture! I can guarantee our wood stacker was not moving this fast.

Off we went.  The Canada geese started honking down on the bay, indignant at our racket.  Stars twinkled overhead.  It was a mild September eve.  Our spotlight aimed at the woodpile and we unloaded and stacked, unloaded and stacked, unloaded and stacked some more.

And that’s our story.  I’m sticking to it.  Sleep finally arrived–ah, blessed sleep!–about 1:30 a.m.

Fortunately, it’s suppose to rain today.  Heavy rain.  Wind.  Waves up to fourteen feet farther out in the Big Lake. 

Which means we get a day off. 

It’s good to have our chores done. Except for that next load.

(Voluntary quiz:  What year Studebaker truck does this family own?  Why do they burn wood?  How many years have they burned wood?  Do they own a backup heater?  And, last but not least, do they like wood heat?  Tee hee.  Teacher cheated.  You will have to imagine some of these answers.)

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
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37 Responses to Stacking firewood at midnight.

  1. lol! My own slave-driver asks me first thing this morning, “Can you spare any time in the woods today?” (We’re still cutting down our own trees.) Luckily, we don’t have to split them as our Hawkin outdoor boiler handles BIG logs! But we DO understand the multiple handlings!

    Voluntary answers: one, because it’s there, seems like forever, yes, absolutely!

    (Fun post!)

    • Kathy says:

      Oh I recall the days of cutting down or own trees! (Shall I say DECADES of cutting down ur own trees?) I am glad that you understand about this. We’re Sisters of Wood.

  2. Dawn says:

    Well done, most ambitious. Good luck with the surgeries. Your truck is cool.

    • Kathy says:

      It’s a fun truck, Dawn, when it runs properly. I don’t yet have the hang of exactly how much choke to give it. Getting better as the years go by. Thanks for the good wishes.

  3. holessence says:

    From one heat-with-wood-burning-stove household to another — GREAT POST!

    (p.s. the problem continues…I couldn’t open the email notification for this post and had to type it into the web browzer manually).

    • Kathy says:

      I am glad to hear you know all about wood-burnin’ too, Laurie. I hear many folks in WordPress land are having these troubles. The support staff say they are working on fixing it.

  4. Hey I know this routine! My parents have wood heat (with oil as a backup), and we did this every fall, too. Except my dad always chainsawed our own trees. I know we unloaded many loads of wood after dark, but I’m fairly certain we never worked beyond 9:30. Hope the surgeries go well!

    • Kathy says:

      Working beyond 9:30 should just be a no-no. LOL! Glad to hear you know the routine. Our kids knew it pretty well, too. Hey, where are those kids when you need them? In the city with gas or electric heat! (Or in Chris’ case, in the city without heat at all because you don’t need it in San Diego.) Thanks for the well wishes.

  5. Carol says:

    1949 Studebaker. Yes, yes! I think I got one. Love the smell of a wood-burning stove, but oh, so much work. Good exercise, though.

    • Kathy says:

      You got one, Carol! I am putting a gold star on your card. 🙂 I always like to think about the good exercise viewpoint. Otherwise we might weigh hundreds of pounds. LOL!

  6. Susan D says:

    You crazy kids. No wonder you’re both so svelte! Such a lot of work, hard work, yet pays off well during those frigid months ahead. Been a couple of years since I participated in all the steps, from start to finish. Miss it and don’t miss it. It can be fun when your co-wooder is a jovial sort. Not so much when they get grumpy! Hope you are enjoying less strenuous activity today during our rain … it’s rather cozy.

    • Kathy says:

      We’re just a pair of crazy kids! Svelte? HA! Barry, maybe. Now, Susan, if you get bored over there in Baraga, I know a crew that would appreciate some wood-unloading help. Except that won’t be until next year now…unless the head crew-man changes his mind…

  7. I’m so glad I don’t have to split any wood…. that’s just NOT my idea of fun, especially at midnight!

    • Kathy says:

      Ms. Michaela, you would be surprised to discover that it’s–kinda–kinda, I say–fun. It’s not my idea of fun either. But it turns out to be rather exhiliarating. Honest.

  8. The midnight ride of Kathy and Barry and the 1949 Studebaker- WOW!

    Life is exciting there by the Big Lake.

    You are the bees knees, S

  9. Elisa's Spot says:

    how many logs would a woodchuck split if a woodchuck could split wood?
    ( i really can’t remember the proper rhyme for that!! )

    hehehe ty for chuckles
    I just made organic vanilla pudding, it’s just into the fridge, come have some if you wish it warm….

    • Kathy says:

      How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could split wood? Just had to type it all out to see if you got it right. You did! Gold star for you, Elisa, especially if you share a spoonful of that pudding, pretty please and thank you kindly!

  10. john says:

    Here is one to make you and Barry have a good chuckle. I showed my wife the picture of you working the splitter and she remarked with surprise “Oh it’s a machine!”. What did you think it was I inquired? She thought you and Barry were going out with a sledge and a splitting wedge like Abraham Lincoln used and splitting your wood.

    “You’ve seen pictures of Kathy … does she look like a Female Bulgarian weight lifter?”

    Another reason why our little 1 1/2 acre in town was a far better idea than acreage out in the woods like yours. 😉

    By the way, are we going to be seeing the Sentinel web site again soon or is that another victim of the recession?

    • Kathy says:

      John, we tried to use the good old maul and wedge back in the old days of the 1980’s and–let me tell you–this is MUCH more fun. Tell your wife that Kathy doesn’t even have any REAL muscles, even after a half year of doing this fun stuff. I emailed you re the Sentinel web site. I suspect it’s no longer on the air “live” except for a subscription form.

  11. Karma says:

    You must like wood heat – why else would you possibly go through this back-breaking routine? I certainly hope you have some sort of back-up – I imagine winter nights in the UP get pretty darn cold, and this is coming from a life-long New Englander. What struck me is the fact that you are still wearing what appears to be heavy flannel in JUNE!

    • Kathy says:

      We do have backup, Karma! Yes, indeed. A nice gas stove that goes on when the temps fall below zero (even when we’ve stoked the fire big before bed.) Someone just asked me, “When will you guys ever get a gas stove?” “We have one,” I replied. “But we love wood heat–and it’s much more economical.” Yes, indeed, that was a cold June in 2009. And in 2010. And in 2011… lol!

  12. Sybil says:

    (Voluntary quiz: What year Studebaker truck does this family own? Why do they burn wood? How many years have they burned wood? Do they own a backup heater? And, last but not least, do they like wood heat? Tee hee. Teacher cheated. You will have to imagine some of these answers.)

    The answers in order are:

    green
    because the library is out of books
    1949 years
    sometimes
    not in summer

    What do I win ? What do I win ?

  13. Dawn says:

    So this is where the old saying, you get twice the heat when you heat with wood, the heat you generate while cutting and stacking and then the heat from burning the wood – ey?
    This is so much work. My parents split wood too and heated their little home…but it was in Alabama where the winters weren’t as harsh or as long as yours.

    • Kathy says:

      It is a lot of work, Dawn. Sometimes it gets tiring. Sometimes it’s a blast (honest.) It’s been a lifestyle choice for us. Can’t imagine that a day might come when we have to rely on the gas stove. I can just see the dollars floating away every minute it’s on. And then we’d be freezing cold with the thermostat set at 62. No, no, no!

  14. Marianne says:

    Wow, that is a lot of work. Kudos to you for being a trooper.

    By the way, I like the new look.

    • Kathy says:

      Do you like the new look, Marianne? I haven’t decided. Of course, I haven’t 100% decided about the 100% benefits of burning wood. Life is a conundrum, isn’t it? Thanks for your good vote.

  15. Colleen says:

    Hi Kathy, we did this for MANY years but without a log splitter 😦 Often in the rain, if memory serves me correct…..some years there just wasn’t a lot of dry weather. I love wood heat too. It makes it all worthwhile. Hope you enjoyed that glass of wine, maybe in front of the fire?

    • Kathy says:

      Really, Colleen? Without a wood splitter? You get six gold stars and a bottle of wine yourself. I do believe I enjoyed that glass of wine…but not in front of the fire. Not for a few more months. Usually we are just starting a fire in the morning now, and then don’t need one for the rest of the day. Just enough to take the chill out of the house.

  16. Barbara Rodgers says:

    Hat’s off to you guys! It must be satisfying to reap the benefit of toasty warmth come winter, after all your hard labor now. I love the smell of a wood stove burning…

    • Kathy says:

      Barbara, it is very satisfying. The hard labor is actually good exercise (when one’s knee is not hurting) and the wood heat is delicious. It is a wonderful smell, isn’t it? (I could live without the dust, though…)

  17. Brenda Hardie says:

    Oh such memories you have stirred up for me Kathy! I remember as a child going with my Dad to cut wood and load the truck and haul it back and split it and stack it. My Dad and Mom used wood heat to supplement our heating. Dad never had a splitter, did it the “manual way”. I remember being exhausted by also feeling satisfied at sharing some of the chores with Dad. Would love the chance to participate in some good hard honest labor like that again but my darn knees won’t allow it. 😦 It makes me sad sometimes because my heart longs for a simple life like that, even with the hard work involved. It’s great medicine not just for the body but for the heart and soul as well.

    • Kathy says:

      Smiling at your good memories, Brenda. He did in the manual way! Wow, he (and you) deserve an award for all that work. It is honest good labor, and Barry would understand about the knee challenges. He had arthroscopic surgery yesterday and already is feeling much better.

      • Brenda Hardie says:

        Oh Kathy I am so happy to hear the surgery went well and especially that Barry is feeling better already! I hope his recovery is speedy and he is back on feet in short order. 🙂

Although I don't reply to every comment on every blog, I do read all comments with mesmerized interest and try to return the favor by visiting YOUR blog or at least sending you heartfelt well wishes.

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