no better just-in-time firewood
Monday, October 19 2015
Though it had been predicted to be bad, the frost this morning hadn't been much harder than it had been yesterday. I'd taken extra precautions with my pepper and tomato plants by putting containers of warm bath water under the tarps I'd covered them with. This seemed to bring them through the night unscathed. The cold weather continued throughout the day, and I burned a fair amount of firewood just to keep the house comfortable. At least it was sunny, with temperatures in the greenhouse upstairs cresting in the upper-80s, and Gretchen went down there with Ramona to read for an hour or so.
There hasn't been any additional sheltered space in the woodshed for over a month now, so all the firewood I'm stacking in front of it is subject to being rained and snowed upon. To mitigate this, I've tried to arrange the wood pieces like layers of shingles that shed away from the center of the pile. This hopefully make it so that only the topmost pieces will get wet. Then they will quickly dry, as skeletonized oak in the forest does.
Still, the best place for storing firewood is under a roof, and this applies especially to wood that is already dry. There's no sense in taking perfectly good dry firewood and letting it get rained on if there is a place to store it. With this in mind, today after I gathered firewood from the north end of the Gullies Trail, I split up most of it and took it directly into the house. This stuff was bone dry, from that medium-sized skeltonized oak I'd gradually felled over the past week or so. There is no better just-in-time firewood in the forest than that, so if I'm going to be burning wood immediately anyway, that's the stuff I should be using. I also had a piece of a somewhat-moister downed oak I'd cut up, and it made sense to stack that in the pile sprawling out in front of the woodshed. Later in the day, I would cut up a number of pieces near the woodshed, including a large semi-rotten piece from across the Farm Road (and would expose another colony of large black ants torpid from the cold). Today's tally for the woodshed came to 194.0 pounds, while the tally for indoors came to 69.3 pounds. I also cut up some thin pieces of green Chestnut Oak that had been felled by the road resurfacers, though they won't be burnable until next year. They joined some recently-split White Ash in a chaotic pile I'll be stacking in the woodshed at the end of the heating season next year.
This evening, I rejiggered some of the code driving my made-from-scratch Arduino clock. I'd added a provision supporting an alarm, but I wanted to be able to have multiple alarms, and the way I'd been adding features was exhausting my limited supply of static RAM (there's only 2 kilobytes of that in an Atmega328). Now, instead of copying all the data from EEPROM into global variables as the program starts up, I have functions that set and get data from places in the EEPROM as needed. It's a pretty obvious way to increase memory efficiency, but it nevertheless represented a real change in my thinking that parts of my mind resisted. It's easy to stick with what's working even when that path is hopeless. As Jared Diamond lays out in Collapse, this is also true of whole societies. We laugh at the foolish Norse in Greenland for failing to consider adding fish to their diet even as we refuse to migrate away from a fossil-fuel-based economy because of what the people who sell us gasoline want us to believe about the nature of trends in the global climate.
For linking purposes this article's URL is:feedback
previous | next