Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Winter outdoor activities and other ways to keep warm
Here's my Christmas present from Aimee. It's a hand-operated hydraulic log splitter.
I quite like this device.
We get 90 percent or more of our heat from firewood burned in efficient modern wood stoves. The wood itself comes from our own land, and I put it up every year in late spring and early summer, as soon as the mud season has ended and the leaves have bloomed. This is the best time because the sheep get to eat the leaves of newly-felled trees, which they like a lot, which reduces bother and volume in handling brush.
Our trees are all under twenty-five year's old, for the most part. Our woodlot was a farm paddock before that time. In Maine, as fertile as this country is for trees, this means some fair-sized trees, but most are slender and don't require splitting, while those that do tend to be ash, straight-grained, and easy to split.
There are only a small number of logs, mostly from elms and the larger ash, that are really hard to split.
This means it will help a good deal to use this device to split them, while the number of logs that require this treatment will remain small, and so we don't need the fully-mechanized motor- or engine-driven type of splitter.
I've been trying it out on some big logs that our neighbor, a very tiny retired lady who still splits her own wood (they make 'em tough in this part of the world), couldn't easily split. She let me have a wagon load of these earlier this winter, and I've been burning them in our big wood furnace, which likes a bigger log.
It works very well, although you need to use a spacer for the shorter logs.
In other happenings, Haggis and I went for a ski. Actually, Haggis can't ski. But he can tunnel along behind me while I ski, and this is good exercise for him.
I planked around on our lawn for a couple minutes to test out my wax, and then we went about a half-mile into the woods, and then turned back. The snow was pretty crusty, and I was breaking through. In any case, I'd gone for a good post-holing walk earlier and didn't particularly need the extra exercise.
Haggis is not exactly the world's best snow dog. He has long fronds of Australian Shepherd fur on his legs and feet and these get balled up easily. This means he will lie down in the trail periodically, to chew the snowballs off his fur. This is fine when you're hiking, or skiing uphill, because you can stop or get around him.
It's a little interesting when you're skiing downhill on skinny skis and all of a sudden there's a big heap of dog in the way.
As you can see, we have our proper Maine winter weather now. Lots of snow, sparkly cold air, and deep blue skies.
The house is kept warm by burning wood, while the sheep keep themselves warm by burning hay. All this material came off our land, or that of other farms close by.
Three cheers for local cellulose. Beats oil and coal hands down, any day.
Amen to that.