Sunday, October 23, 2011

My Handy Husband

We had a pretty productive weekend. Steve finished the brake line on my van and I helped with the bleeding so now it stops when it's supposed to. Yay! Next step...get it registered and insured.

In Nova Scotia every vehicle must pass a basic check every 2 years. Without it you can't drive. It's cheap at about $35 for the inspection and covers things like your glass, brakes, wheels, lights, suspension, speedometer, all the things you need to have working for a safe vehicle. Consequently there are a lot less junkers on the road here. Registration and all that jazz are $170 but that's for 2 years. Insurance is fairly comparable to other provinces and is calculated on your address, years of safe driving and value of your vehicle. I'll let you know how ours compares to BC because we had a vehicle exactly like my van when we lived on the island so we can compare apples to apples. Insurance is purchased privately here and not from the gov't like ICBC.

Steve and I plus our fiend Stephan and son Chris all went to cut wood on Saturday. We got a heavy trailer load full which is great and is probably close to 3/4 cord. I'll let you know once it's stacked. Although it blew down last fall and has been sitting all summer, it's still very heavy because it's not completely dead (it is now that we cut it into rounds) and it's oak. But free wood is always a gift. So we're going to split it this week and stack it outside to dry and season some more with the top covered to keep off the excessive rain but still let the wind blow through. By next winter it'll be stacked inside and be dry and ready for burning. Planning ahead for your firewood is especially important if you are cutting your own trees. I think that it's best cut in the winter, split and left to dry for a year then stacked under a roof for another year until you're ready to burn it. Firewood will keep for years if it stays free of insects and remains dry. We have the room to fit about a cord and a half in the basement near the wood furnace so that wood gets nice and dry while the other seasoned wood is in the garage, also drying further. Condensation can be a problem in an enclosed space like under a tarp that's weighted down or inside a home so make sure the wood is pretty dry before you bring it in. Just think about it...if you bring in 500 lbs of wood and it still has to lose 20% of it's weight in water...that's going to be 100 lbs of water going into the air of your house and potentially causing some damp problems. So dry outside for as long as possible before bringing it in.

When buying firewood ask other people around you who they'd recommend. Make sure you know when it was split because that's when the drying and seasoning really gets going. Wood that has been seasoned but only recently split is likely to still contain about 10% more moisture than you want. One way to find out the moisture content is to split a piece and see if it has a dull think when the axe hits it or if there's a dry pinging sound. The ping indicates dry wood. The thunk means water. So make sure you know what you're getting. We used Burndry Wood (they're in Courtenay but deliver to a wide area) when we lived in BC because they're using locally sourced wood left over after logging. They go in and move all the usable scrap logs left over after the logging companies take the premium wood out and before they get in there to stack and burn it in huge piles. It's all legal and firewood permits are available for the general public too. We also found that ordering the wood early in the season meant we got really dry and ready to burn wood and we were very happy with it. Here in NS though we don't have any recommendations and plan to get a farm with some woodland on it already. Either way we'll likely need a few cords ready to burn so that's a consideration for next year.

Cords of wood measure 4'x4'x8' stacked. That's a full cord and should cost you about $200 delivered and split. Stacking may be available for an extra fee so you'll need to ask. Hardwood and softwood are different. For a shorter and cooler fire you're going to like pine, fir and cedar, softwoods. They burn quickly and make a great fire for fall and Spring when you don't need much heat but do make a bit more creosote so be diligent with your chimney sweeping. Hardwoods are the mid-winter and overnight firewoods. They burn hotter, cleaner and longer so if heat is what you desire...hardwoods like oak, hickory and maple are good choices depending what's local. And please always buy local woods. It saves on transportation costs and also doesn't spread pests and diseases from one area to another. I guess that what you burn depends on your local supply. If poplar is what you've got...that's what you'll burn.

There's an interesting idea of how to stack firewood for quick drying on this page but I love the old fashioned stacks pictured. They slope very slightly downwards so rain just runs out and doesn't collect and besides that they're pleasant to look at too. And who says your firewood stack has to be an ugly rectangle?

Hope you all have a great day. I'm going to be offline for most of the time owing to a need to catch up on housework and writing. I know...I'm such a slacker!


  1. In reading this and your previous posts about firewood, I'm realizing there is so much more to having a woodburning fireplace as opposed to the gas fireplace like we've always had. Very good info. When we move to NS and should we happen to have a 'real' fireplace, I plan to surprise and impress my husband with all my knowledge...curtesy of you Elizabeth.
    I'm really enjoying your blog and look forward to putting all this info to good use one day soon.

  2. Thanks. I wrote another post about firewood a while ago so it's one of my goals once I have the MacBook up and running again to tag and link the posts so it's easier to find things. And there will be a detailed section in my book about fuels, especially wood. Now that I've had wood heat for the past 6 or 7 years I am hooked. I've always been a bit of a pyro anyways but there's something comforting about having your firewood sitting there and knowing that even if the power goes out we can still stay warm and cook. The wood furnace is easy to use because you just load it up and forget about it but I'd like a cookstove too so when we get our own place that's one of the first things on my wish list. We also know several people with a wood king. It's a big wood fired boiler in it's own shed outside your house and usually takes long logs of 4 feet in length. They are made to heat hot water so you'd have a series of radiators in your home and you can even heat your pool or supply domestic hot water. Something to think about...but our first priority is a wood stove with a water jacket and a flat top to put a pot on for slow cooking. Heat, hot water and cooking during the winter.
    Thanks for reading and for your comment, I love getting them!

  3. We got a logging truck load last yr (douglas fir) for $600. Fresh logs delivered in Cowichan.
    Hopefully it will last a few yrs. Est 10 full cords.