We depend on our wood-burning stoves, one in the lodge and one in the barn, to stay warm during our mild Alabama winters, so we pay lots of attention to firewood.
Last winter, though, I let the injury to my arm interfere with getting our firewood cut, split, and stacked until February. That meant we were going to be depending on burning wood that had insufficient time to season. Desperately looking for some way to stay warm in the winter, I settled on placing the firewood pallets on the orchard floor throughout the long, hot, dry summer, hoping the searing heat of the Alabama sun would dry them out.
We didn’t get the hot, dry, summer I was expecting. What we got this year was the coolest spring and the wettest summer anyone can remember. Despite all the moisture, however, our firewood has dried out nicely. Here’s pallet #12, which I cut, split, and stacked on February 6. I placed a pair of our Felco pruners on it to give you a reference for the color. I wouldn’t ask for firewood I burn to be any more seasoned than this; would you?
As I moved all the firewood pallets into position under the barn roof this week, I had time to reflect on what we’ve learned. First, we’ve learned that the summer sun can be a powerful drying agent even when it seems there’s more rain than anyone thought possible. Second, we’ve learned that firewood can season far faster in the sun than under cover. Third, and most important, we’ve learned that we made a good call four years ago when we decided to store all our firewood on movable pallets.
My original thinking was that palletizing our firewood would make it easier to store it out of the way and then place it in a convenient spot when the time came to burn it. That worked as we hoped. Firewood comes off the splitter and we stack it on a pallet. Then we don’t touch that stick of firewood again until it’s time to pull it off the pallet and burn it in the stove. No restacking. I will have moved it three times, though. I moved it out on to the orchard floor in February. Then this week I moved it to its spot on the pallet rack in the barn. Then when it’s time to burn it, I’ll move it again to a spot just outside the door of either the barn or the lodge, whichever needs a pallet of firewood next at that time. But instead of unstacking, loading, toting, and restacking 1/4 cord of firewood piece by piece, I simply pick it up with Tractor’s pallet forks and place it wherever I need it. The process of moving all eight of the pallets from the orchard floor under cover took about an hour and didn’t use much diesel fuel, because I was at idle most of that time.
I’m confident I wouldn’t have made the decision to move the firewood out into the sun – that intermediate step – if I knew I would have to restack it piece by piece every time I moved it.