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Planning for a nice fire...

One of the features of farming is planning ahead and while we're sweltering under the summer sun it's time to think about keeping ourselves warm in winter. Of course if you have a heat pump or other non-firewood based heating system you can sit on your deck with a cold drink and picture the rest of us slabbing and chopping and stacking until we drop.

Living off-grid means no electric heating for us and our lovely Firenzo Contessa fire is our sole supplier of heat in winter. And don't believe the nonsense you hear about the 'winterless north' because there's no such thing....and I hate being cold! The fire is ideal for our situation as it can be turned down at night and will still be burning in the morning so there's no need to actually light the fire from one month to the next. The fire is hooked up to a wetback so it heats our water and - even better - it provides hot water for our under floor heating. The whole house is tiled so the under floor heating makes walking around the house barefoot in winter a pleasure.

However, all this wonderful heat in winter means we have to get hot in summer too. The firewood needs to be dry before winter so there's no time to lose.

We have a row of old 'granddaddy pines' lining the track up to our goat shed and the storm a couple of weeks ago brought down a large (10m large) branch. The rest of the tree is coming down next week*. Then we'll be slabbing the trunk, loading the slabs onto the trailer, driving them to the wood shed, hiring a log splitter and splitting and stacking until the wood shed is full. All pine is not good of course, it's too fast burning, but Geoff's 'war on gorse' has provided quite a stack of wood and I hear that is good firewood too.

So we're getting organised, despite the heat, and it's a great feeling to know you've got your winter firewood sorted.

But.....while I really like using the log splitter I loathe huhu grubs and there's always a few in the wood. The chooks love them but they make my flesh creep...ugh!

* The pine has been leaning for some time and needs to come down but the first quote we got was, wait for it, $6,700 plus GST. That included taking down the tree, and reducing it to firewood and mulch but even so... A second quote will take down the top 6m of the tree and we'll do the firewood and mulching and that will cost around $1,800 plus GST. We have another dozen or so of the trees to come down over the next few years. If only I could grow a money tree!

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