The primary fuel source for our heating is wood.
Over the past few years I have harvested wood from our own wind blown trees and built a couple of sheds to house the sawn, split and stacked firewood.
Over time we installed more stoves and our demand for seasoned firewood increased. I initially bought lengths of waste timber from a hardwood sawmill which worked well. I then took a leap of faith to build a hydraulic log splitter which enabled me to split much larger logs than I could split by hand. The rangers at my local country park have supplied me with wood for the last few years. A mix of Scots Pine, Beech, Sycamore and Poplar.
On my travels to Norway and Sweden I have seen, admired and indeed envied their freestanding woodpiles. Some googling revealed their names. Holz Hausens. A youtube clip showed the tricks in their construction. Curiosity was eating at me so I had to have a go at building one.
We drove a stake into the ground and stretched a rope from it with a knot to give us a diameter of six feet. I built a ring of similar sized log segments around its circumference. This tips the first radial row of logs inwards. This ensures that they can only implode eventually against opposing logs. Were they to be pitched outwards the pile could burst outwards and collapse. Following the tips from the web, views varied on whether logs should be stacked bark up or down. I chose to stack bark down in the hope that they would dry better that way. The jury is still out. It took about three or four trailer loads of logs to build the stack up to about eight feet high. A bit like a rookie potter, the bell or pear shape was a surprise, but as a first attempt I was thrilled.
I shared the building process with my woodcutting cycling friends and a plan was hatched to build a second.
Josh and I had a marathon Saturday, stopping only for tea and a some delicious homemade curry.
For this build I made the diameter eight feet and tried to ensure that as the walls climbed I'd keep them vertical. This had two benefits. Firstly the rain water would be more efficiently shed, and secondly, it would be easier to build a more stable platform upon which to build a domed roof.
The Rangers called after a big storm blew down a lot of trees in the park. They run chainsaw training courses there, students leave neat piles of two metre lengths of logs dotted throughout the woodland. No machinery is allowed among the trees, so each log has to be manually carried out. My brother keenly volunteered for a share of the spoils.
We spent a month of Monday mornings gathering logs with a view to building another couple of piles later in the year when we'd both have more time.
The week between Christmas and New Year seemed the ideal time to work off the extra inches gained around our waistlines. The weather stayed fair to complete the first pile, it rained a bit while I built the second. It was a race against the onset of Spring as the Snowdrops were popping up. I did my best to steer the wheelbarrow and tiptoed my size elevens like a ballet dancer around the little green shoots. I had enough left over to start a fifth pile, but it will take a few weeks for the weather to improve before we can 'harvest' more logs.