Tuesday, September 6, 2011

At The Bradstreet Homestead: Getting The Wood In

It's said that cutting your own firewood warms you twice. According to my father-in-law, aka Papa, however, it warms you at least sixteen times, and I believe him. We've helped get the wood in* before, and it's certainly an easier task now that the kids are older and can help and I don't have to worry about little ones running into the open saw rig. The saw rig consists of a band, a frame with some iron fittings and a giant circular saw and my mother-in-law said it was her father's and is the same rig she grew up using. Nana is 73 years old (going on 35), so that tells me the rig is a useful piece of farm equipment with some longevity. Basically, the rig gets hooked up to the old tractor and the tractor engine runs the wheels and the band that spin the saw. Everything is exposed and there are constant reminders to keep your hands from that fool thing.

Nana with her "perfect tomato"
Nana, a master organic gardener, shows off a prize tomato.

the old saw rig
The Saw Rig.

ayuh, this looks like a safe operation #Maine
Setting up the saw rig.

My in-laws had already cut and stacked a great deal of wood, so what you are about to see us do is a piddly drop in the bucket by comparison, but it was still work. So keep that in mind. (Have I mentioned my in-laws are 73 and 78? Yeah.) We were working with Alex's two Aunts and his sister, as well.

warms you at least sixteen times
their hard work
Evidence of their hard work.

the board reads "saw rig"
All we had left to do.

So there's this system for stacking the wood into the trailer. I don't know who came up with it (I'm guessing it was an Aunt ruling), but let me be clear: there is no deviation from The System, tolerated. So as long as we remained cognizant of that fact, everything went smoothly.

learning flexibility
removing nubbins
the logs go in 'just so'
The kids, not deviating from The System.

Here's how this works: someone runs the rig and does the cutting, someone chooses and helps guide a timber onto the rig, and someone helps catch the cut logs and then throws them with deadly aim into the trailer, where there are other someones following The System.

ready to help
cutting each timber
Papa style
many hands
How it works. Follow The System.

Let me take a moment and talk about style. Look, yes, we're in Maine, land of L.L. Bean and Martha's summer home, but as you can see, none of us were taking any pointers from The Daily Prep while we were helping to get the wood in, especially on a warm and muggy day as it was. The fact that Papa was wearing a hat he found blown off some motorcyclist's head on Route 3, that happened to be covered in the ever offensive Conferdedrate Flag, because it keeps the sweat out of my eyes, should be evidence of that fact, alone (as in, I won't mention the shirtlessness.) It was hot. Moving along.

So, we filled up a trailer-full, and Olivia, 14, wanted to drive the truck down to the shed, so she did. This was her first driving lesson and experience, ever. She did so well that when we decided we should just finish the last of the wood and go back for a second load before dinner, she drove the truck back that time, too.

careful work
Getting it done.

little discoveries
Adam discovers a mini-log ecosystem.

Olivia drives the farm truck
@oliviaconsiders drives for the first time in big farm truck, hauling a trailer full of wood she helped cut and load. #unschooling
there she goes
hauling wood
Olivia drives for the first time, in the big farm truck, hauling a load of wood.

With our bellies beginning to rumble, we finished the cutting, loading and stacking the very last of the wood. And because it was so warm and we were all covered is sawdust, Auntie Heather and the kids went down to the pond while Alex and I finished stacking, then we followed. The pond at near-dusk was so calm and inviting and felt so refreshing. It's also bittersweet, knowing that that was probably our final swim in the pond this summer.

final load
on the way
where summer meets autumn
sun is setting
final swim in the pond
quick swim before dark

With our quick swim over, we got ourselves back to the house in time for a late supper of vegetarian lasagna and blackberry cobbler, prepared by Nana. We sat and talked as long as we could with a two hour drive home, and then we said our good-byes. It's always good to be together as a family, but I like the days we are working together to complete a big job the best. As Papa says, it warms you not twice, but sixteen times.

*Edited to note that I write get the wood in, because it's the way it's said, grammar be damned.


  1. That's too funny, Amy. First rule of The Daily Prep: Practicality always wins! The Homestead, the stacked wood, and the participants create a most inspiring scene. I wish I could have been there.

  2. I love that. And that is a LOT of wood! Maine seems a lot like Wisconsin. The native Wisconinites all have family cabins 'up north (nort)' or come from small towns and rural farms. With the gypsy moth restrictions now, you can't move wood from county to county (people used to do wood at their wood lot on the farm and then haul it back to homes back in town) but people still gather extended family to help put up enough for the parents/grandparents on the farm and at the family cabin so they can enjoy it all winter!

    Such great photos. And why am I not surprised she did a great job driving? ;)



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