Firewood is a large undertaking on our farm. Not only do we boil sap with wood but we heat our house(s) and hot water with wood in the winter. “Sugarwood” as we call it is about 6 to 7 full cords (a pile that is 4 x 4 x8 feet ) while our furnace uses about 15 to 17 face cords for heating. When we cut we use the whole tree with the top part cut into 30 inch lengths for the maple evaporator and the bottom trunk cut into 12 to 16 inch chunks for the wood furnace which heats the house and makes domestic hot water. The bottom chunks we do not split as the furnace is happy with whatever I throw in. The only requirement is that the chunk is light enough for me to pick up and throw in the furnace. The top of the tree is either small enough that no splitting is required or large enough that it might be split once or so. I will show you our splitter when we get it out in 2 weeks or so. Right now we are only felling and sawing up trees.
The trick with wood cutting is to pick up and/or handle the wood as few times as possible. Ideally, we do not want to pick up and move wood more than once. We tend to thin one area of woods each spring so that we have multiple trees to cut in one general location. We set the tractor and skidder up in a central location in the woods and then cut trees in a semicircle behind the skidder. Getting the trees to fall the right way is a skill but can usually be done with some accuracy. When the trees are down we hook the tree base to the skidder and pull all the trees to a central location where we cut them up. We usually haul the tree base up to the tractor , saw off some chunks, then pull the tree in some more. In the end we want a big pile of sawed up wood in one location behind the tractor. Should we need to do any splitting we have all the wood in one location ready to be split.
When we gather wood we put it in the front loader of the tractor so that it can be dumped in place at the woodshed. If we get it right we’ve touched the wood once to load it and sometimes twice if we have to split it.
Out skidder is pictured below. It is not a large one as we are usually not hauling timber sized logs. The winch is in the middle with a long cable. the chains go around the tree trunk and are connected to the winch cable. The skidder then “skids” the tree bottom by winch up to the back of the skidder. We can then attach the chain to the skidder at the top of the bottom blade and haul the tree farther using the tractor but usually this is not necessary. If we can get the skidder into a location we can usually get the loader into the same location to transport the wood. We’ll show you more of the process as we get farther along.