Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Oak Logs

Remember back a couple of months ago when Steve and I went and cut some big oak logs? We've had them stacked beside the garage for a while and now our friend Stephan has loaned us his hydraulic log splitter which is AWESOME! Watching it split those 200 lb wet logs is a sight to behold and definitely appreciated by those of us who otherwise would have struggled with a maul, splitting wedges and a 5 lb sledge hammer. Hours of back breaking work reduced to minutes. As much as we love doing things by hand the old fashioned way, it doesn't mean we don't appreciate the modern conveniences like log splitters and high speed internet.

Being able to identify the various trees in winter and summer is important to homesteaders, as is knowing what the various woods are used for. Things that the old timers take for granted such as Ash is used for tool handles (long wearing and less splinters), sugar maple for floor boards (used in bowling alleys) and cherry for furniture due to it's unique colour and finishing qualities. Just because you can tell them apart in the summer doesn't mean you can once all the hardwood's have lost their leaves in the winter but close observation of bark, twigs and buds can tell you what you're looking at. This is important for those maple trees you want to tap in the spring before the leaves unfurl or when cutting hardwood trees for firewood in the winter. You don't want to be burning furniture grade wood when there's other more suitable firewood available.

I have a little book that was originally published in 1973 called Trees of Nova Scotia. It lists their habit, leaf style, bud and flower information and also commercial uses. Such a handy little book. Next I want to look for books on identifying mushrooms and berries.

So...what are you hoping to get for Christmas?

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