Not too much new here to share with you, but I better post something before my Dad starts demanding a newer blog post. haha!
We’re well into “Firewood season” where every day is consumed with “How much more do we need to get?” thoughts and “I have 30 minutes free – should we stack some more?”.
We’ve made two trips with the truck only, and one with the trailer, so we are likely not even half way there, needing to do that much again I imagine.
For our first couple trips, we revisited a spot about an hour from town. It has a super steep ascent to get there, which freaks me right out. It’s all gutted and rutted and half eroded away. Once you get up top though, there are some sparse nicely dead and dried and bark-free trees from an old forest fire. After about 10 years pass since a forest fire, all the bark falls off the spruce trees, leaving nicely naturally dried and seasoned firewood ready for harvest. However if you wait too long at this point, the ants move in and the tree eventually falls over and rots.
Yukon residents can harvest 11 cords each every year, with a free firewood permit.
Here’s some pictures from our first couple (hot) trips after work to get some wood. This spot is a designated non-commercial harvest area.
Hot and dry, so I wore shorts, scratched my legs all up, but who cares, that’s what legs are for.
Many of these spruce are nice and tall. This next pic was from just the first two trees! Jeff cuts it down with the chainsaw, bucks it up into manageable legs, and delimbs what he can. I go behind with my trusty Sandvik (thanks Esker ’92) and cut off the rest of the branches and haul the logs to the road side. These ones were too heavy for me to load up in Jeff’s tall truck by myself, so he did the heavy work to load them up too.
Not too much soil is up here, but enough for another generation of spruce to already take hold. Looks like it’ll be as sparse as it was previously though.
You should count the growth rings on these trees we’re cutting. They’re probably about 100 years old!
On the weekend, Jeff wanted to hit a spot he knew of that was further than we’ve ever gone for firewood. A honey hole of firewood is really desirable – a place where you can fell a tree and put in minimal effort getting that log into the trailer. So anything with a favourable slope, near a road, with trees that have been dead long enough they have no bark, and are of a decent size so they don’t have 10 million little branches to lob off.
This place turned out to be 2.5 hours out of town, on a deteriorating old road, but Jeff’s hunch was right. We did well!
There was a significant slope and really big trees. Wind had taken down many of them, but that was okay. We find that as long as a log isn’t touching the ground, it won’t rot right away. So there were many trees already down, but stacked on each other which was perfect.
Jeff cut them up into roughly 8 foot lengths, depending on their diameter (shorter makes the huge ones more manageable). Then I picked up one end of each log, and flipped it end over end, over and over, until it was down by the road. This is where all my exercise and particular all the squats I’ve been doing really paid off 😀
After a couple of hours, we were so warn out we were getting stumbly, which isn’t great on a slope, so we called it before the trailer was totally full. This really is a young man’s game, but we’ll keep playing it as long as we can. The alternative is getting a commercial cutter to drop a cord at a time off at your house, but it feels more rewarding to do it yourself.
What a great load of big trees! A few years back, the area where we cut gave us firewood logs that I could carry on my shoulder to the truck, which was convenient because then we’d just have to buck it up and stack. These logs were big enough to need splitting too, or they’d never fit in the wood stove. I don’t know which is better. Cutting bigger trees fills the trailer faster, but then you have to split them too.
On the ride back we stopped at this old van bench seat that someone put along the road. What a view! Can you spot Haystack Mountain? It’s the pointy, pyramid looking peak.
Haha we’re so dirty and sweaty!
On Monday we took the load of logs just out of town and bucked it up on an old claim. Less sawdust to clean up out of our driveway! And I’m sure our neighbours appreciated not listening to our chainsaw. Here was the result:
Yesterday we started splitting and stacking it. Jeff’s splitting about 60% of it, and the rest is small enough to just stack. We’ve got a few more weeks of this to go! But the heat of burning wood just can’t be beat. And its free exercise! Every piece of wood we burn is handled so many times, it’s kinda crazy. Basically:
- Cut down and cut into lengths.
- Dragged or somersaulted to truck or trailer
- Loaded into trailer
- Removed from trailer for bucking
- Loaded back into trailer
- Thrown out of trailer
- Loaded into wheelbarrow
- Split first or tossed directly to wood pile
- Stacked into wood pile
- Eventually, gathered into rubbermaid and carried inside to inside day sized burn rack
- Put into wood stove.
What else has been going on? Here I’ll dump some other photos:
We’ve had a couple cats visiting our yard, who are keeping the vole population down. They catch and kill them, and let the ravens eat them. It’s been a bumper year for voles for some reason. The are busy all winter with tunnels under the snow and under the house. Hank’s only got one or two so far. Voles that is, not the visiting cats.
Our back deck has so many lovely flower pots. I grew some of these from seed and the rest were random flowering plants I snagged at a free-for-all when a greenhouse from Whitehorse brought up a trailer for plants for sale in Dawson this spring.
We’ve had such lovely hot weather, so I spend every afternoon I can working from our front deck, on one of the chairs my Uncle Joe made us in PEI that we moved across the country/continent.
We had been getting super dry here with an extreme fire hazard. Every time a storm went through (usually most afternoons when it is hot), lightning would spark a dozen or so more fires.
One afternoon I was working from the porch as a storm went through, and then I watching what I thought was another storm cloud until other people started chattering about it on our local Facebook Town Crier. It was the plume from a nearby fire that was just started by lightning, and there were a couple more nearby!
I went up to the Dome that night to watch the fires. The plume above was out on a ridge. You can just barely make it out in this next picture from the Dome:
I’ll zoom in for you.
I spent an hour or so watching in all directions. There were a couple other possible plumes in other directions. Here are a few pictures I took while I was hanging out up there.
You should have expected a truck shot in here somewhere!
Soon it was evident that fire, near Bell Creek, was getting attention. There was a bird dog plane flying around it. Then the Electra plane dropped a couple loads of retardant on it. I could watch it going back and forth to the airport.
Fires are a natural part of living in the boreal forest, and our forests rely on them for regeneration. Lightning sparks most of our fires up here, and if they aren’t threatening any of our communities, mines, or historical structures, they are left to burn. Each of the fires that started near town on this particular day though were quickly attacked.
Now it is much cooler a week later, and we’ve gotten rain, so the fires will be less of a concern. And by cooler, I mean I’m on day 2 of wearing wool socks, pants, hoodie, and not allowing myself to close any windows, and thinking of putting a heated blanket here at my desk. Here’s hoping we get some more warm sunny weather before fall.
Let’s see, what else.
Hank looked like this after a walk with him last week. Something must have bit or stung him! It was getting scary as it was getting more and more swollen, late at night, no Benadryl in the house, but it stopped just a bit bigger than this, and was mostly gone by morning.
Oh! I really don’t blog about work, but let me mention it for a moment.
It feels a bit like I’m back in school! I even did a school supply run to the hardware store the other day.
I spent several months brushing up on my programming skills and then applied for a newish apprenticeship program we have at work. I did some code tests and an interview and got in! It is a one year program aimed to let you walk out the other side as a software engineer/developer. I’ve been doing support with this company for 8 years. Which is highly technical and challenging. I work along side developers/software engineers, but after 8 years, I needed more. Why was I hiding out in a safe role when I was a programmer before? I just need to advance my skills for high performance, security, etc. Meaning before I would figure out how to code something to work and leave it at that. Now I will strive to code something in the best practices, secure, performant way. I’ll be learning how to code with others (most of my previous coding was mostly solo) and will be publicly sharing my learning throughout the year with the rest of the company. It’s really exciting and intimidating really. It is an amazingly generous opportunity to advance my career with the same employer!
Speaking of which, after 7 years of employment, we are given an anniversary gift of nice headphones! I finally ordered mine (after 8 years, oops). They are Sony WH-1000XM4‘s with the WordPress VIP logo (the division where I work) branded on the sides. They are really comfortable with impressive noise cancelling and Bluetooth.
I’m really looking forward to trying these out on my next flight. Which is coming soon! Look out Ontario, I’m coming to visit in August! So much family to see. Hopefully friends too! It’s been too long. Drop me a line if you are comfortable with a vaccinated visitor from the Yukon 😁