So how did you spend your Valentines Day?
Well, let me tell you how I spent mine … doing exactly what I wanted to be doing, the greatest thing you could possibly do on any given snowy winter day – cutting firewood!
But this was no regular tree. This was a massive pine beside the garden. When we moved here there were 6 big red pine trees in a row. They were obviously planted by someone at sometime, I’m just not sure when. Two of them were killed by a massive lightning strike a number of years ago. (You can read all about it here)
The tree at the end had a real lean to it and that’s the one I cut. I’ve read that huge pine trees were harvested around here 150 years ago to be shipped to England to be used as masts in sailing ships. But throughout my 150 acres I can show you at least five massive pines that have snapped in half in high winds, so I’m not sure about this. Who would use pine for a mast?
So based on my experience with softwood pines coming down in wind storms, and with wind storms becoming more frequent on our warming planet, I decided to be proactive and take this tree down. And it was a nice tree to take down because of the lean. There’s nothing more disconcerting than cutting down a tree expecting it to fall one way, and then discovering that you miscalculated and having it fall in a different direction. Let’s just say that when that happens, if I had one of those hidden defects in my heart it would have blown by now! So I’ve got that going for me.
Luckily this tree dropped exactly where I wanted it. It was a big job to cut it up. There is easily two months worth of swing season (fall and spring) firewood from this tree. I’ll most likely use it to heat the guesthouse. Softwood like pine doesn’t burn as long as hardwood, but it burns fine. Lots of people are freaked out about burning pine thinking it will gum up their chimney with creosote and start chimney fires. Any wood will gum up your chimney if it hasn’t dried long enough and/or you don’t burn it hot enough. I always make sure to burn my fires hot and every second year when I sweep my chimneys all I ever get is some ash, never any creosote. So personally, I love pine for the cool, not cold, seasons. It’s light, burns hot and makes nice crackling sounds like those fires you can watch on cable TV networks during the Christmas season. And it smells wonderful. Seriously, spending the day cutting pine is like outdoor aromatherapy.
I know it’s probably hard for many people to not look at this and think that it would be better for the planet to have left it standing. Well yes, it was a beautiful tree. But it was growing in the wrong spot and it had a nasty lean to it. And it, like all living things, was getting to end of its useful life. I could have waited for a big summer windstorm to take it down and drop it on my vegetable garden or I could be proactive and take it down while there is 3 feet of snow on the garden. And yes, it was absorbing carbon and storing it, but when I burn it I’m simply releasing the carbon that it stored during its life. It’s just completing the cycle. And I can assure you something that I have noticed on my 150 acres; you can’t stop trees from growing back. Nature is relentless.
As a bonus, I get incredibly exhausted doing it! It’s just so great! Do you ever see those news reports where they show the latest ‘thang’ that people do for exercise like go ‘spinning’ on a stationary bicycle and get really hot and sweaty, or go on a military-like training thing where they climb over walls and crawl through mud under barbed wire. Well, I get way more tired and I end up with a month’s worth or carbon neutral heat when I’m done! If only I could find a way to convince a group of these people desperate for exercise to come out here for a day. They wouldn’t even have to pay me for the privilege!
When I was all done I convinced Michelle to bake a chocolate cake, because it was, well, Valentine’s Day. Then I took a can of cherry pie filling and filled the insides of the cake with it, then I iced the cake with chocolate icing, and then I ate a quarter of it. I would have eaten the whole thing but I can’t handle sweets like I could when I was younger. And let me say, that I did not have even the slightest twinge of guilt as I crammed that sugary, unhealthy, fat-laden, death-on-a-fork into my mouth. The thing I like most about a day of tree cutting is a night of chocolate cake stuffing. It’s a pretty great trade off.
There was no dining and dancing at Sunflower Farm on Valentine’s Day. There were no Argentinean-grown and flown in roses. No new jewelry in little boxes. I always offer, but Michelle isn’t into those things. There was pizza and chocolate cake though! And one heck of a lot of firewood cut for to keep us warm next year. How can you get any more romantic than that!
Michelle’s Note: Hmmmm…… You know you’ve been married for too long when your husband thinks he can get away without some sort of acknowledgement on Valentine’s Day! Actually, he knows me pretty well. He managed to find something that combines two of my loves … chocolate and popcorn!