Sunday, October 16, 2016

My Front Yard Wood-Yard (pics)

Click images to enlarge.
Viewed from the porch.

In these photos, you’ll see my wood-yard and “workshop” beneath the big white oak in the front yard. The shop is composed of a 20” chunk of wood for a stool, and a 12” chunk for my workbench. It’s mostly just axe-work and hatchet work that I do there. The stool also gives me a place to catch my breath when I’m cutting and splitting firewood. There’s a big white oak in the back yard that would serve just as well for such a workshop, but it’s at the edge of the woods and tends to be a bit mosquito-ridden. Besides, the wood rack needs to be near the drive-way so that strangers can pull alongside to load their pickups. I’ve had the rack there for a couple years now, but I had to refurbish it this year.

First, the runners on the ground (one white oak, one bitternut hickory) had deteriorated just enough that the bark was loose and bug infested. I used my eye-hoe to cut any grass growing around them and scrape off the bark and remove it from the area. Then I swept the poles with a broom to remove any loose material. Following that, I poured a mix of about ¾ cup of Twenty Mule Team Borax and one gallon of water over the two poles to make them less susceptible to fungus and insect damage. I don’t know if that mix was the right strength, it just seemed adequate to me.

Secondly, the rather puny stakes that had been at the ends of the stack rotted off this past summer. I found a couple reasonably straight saplings in the nearby woods that were a bit bigger than what I’d originally used and cut them off at double the length of my cane. The poles ended up being 70 inches long, and about 1-1/2” at the small end. One was a dead black gum and the other a live red oak. I gave them a long point on the small end with my trusty little Boy Scout hatchet (one of my favorite tools). Then, I made holes with a crowbar where I wanted them to go by raising the bar over my head and driving it into the soil. Following that I’d ream the hole a bit, then repeat the process until I felt that the hole was both deep and wide enough to accept the pole. I tapped the poles home with a few blows from my 14 pound sledge until they were even heights. (Incidentally, no country place is complete without an old-fashioned crowbar. Mine is an inch thick and 54” long. The tempered bar was forged to a point on one end, and flat on the other. It appears to have been made from an ancient drive shaft. I’ve used it to move logs, stones, buildings, and timbers and have set many a tomato stake and bean pole with it, the latter not too deeply, of course.)

Thirdly, the baler twine from post top to post top had gone bad on me. I looked around for more baler twine, but I’d apparently used up the few pieces that a neighbor gave me when I first made the rack. Growing up, baler twine seemed like grass and autumn leaves, one of those things in life of which there would always be aplenty. Even though I used it for dozens of purposes, there were times that we would accumulate so much used twine that we’d have to load it onto the farm trailer and dump it somewhere to get it out of the barn. These days, I’d dearly love to have a few barrels full of used twine. It’s strange, sometimes, the things that can become valuable to us. I could probably still buy a two-roll bale of the new stuff at a farm supply place, but I have neither the money, nor a good place to store it. I looked in the basement for something else that might work, but found nothing, so I ended up buying 50 feet of American made camo parachute cord, found in the sporting goods section at Chinamart for about $5, just to get the eight feet plus that I needed. I found a bundle over in the hardware section for a dollar less, but it was made in China, so I paid the extra dollar.

It’s eight feet between the posts of the rack, so I made a mark four feet up on each post so that it would show the needed height to make a face-cord of firewood. (Actually, I made them at 4’1” so no-one could complain that I was shorting them, plus I always round the top of the stack slightly, for the same reason.) For 50 years, my grandfather and father sold such a measure as a “cord rick,” a common term in this area at one time. However, the term was gradually replaced by the modern term “face cord.” I quit using the old term when some dufus with a dictionary tried to argue me into selling him a full cord for the cord rick price. He stopped just short of threatening to take me to court. I told him that I’d buy every full cord of wood that he could find at that price, then easily resell it to folks happy to pay the price at which I had it advertised. He finally hung up on me.

It took me a few minutes of three different days to get this tiny task completed. In the old days, I’d have had it done in one hitch. Times have changed. At least my wood-yard is ready for business now. At the rate that I have to work these days, I’ll do well to get a face cord every couple of weeks, since there will be brush to stack and briers to cut. But, even if I AM that slow, that will buy me a tank of gas when it’s sold. Who knows, maybe I can get out a load a week; that would be a lot better. The missus will soon start telling me how ugly my little wood-yard looks there in the front yard, but that’s okay; I’ll be outside and enjoying myself! © 2016


Caddie said...

"...outside and enjoying myself!". There you go, Gorges; sounds good for the soul. Your front yard is likeable. I so love trees surrounding a home.

"cord rick" its called. I thought a cord and a rick were two different measures; least with the woodcutters I know in earlier life. I hope you are able to get out one each week, yet I know what work that entails. I've split many a load/chunk in past years; it makes an old man of one and 'fodder for the soil' of a woman ...ouch.

Really enjoyed reading today's post - brought my memories back too.

Ralph Goff said...

Gorges, interesting tour of your wood yard. I could supply you with plenty of used baler twine. Plastic of course. I have to burn it when I accumulate too much here.

Penny said...

These are the pictures facebook wouldn't let you post? Where are we headed?! Don't answer that. BTW, I really like your view.
Keep plugging, Gorges!

Gorges Smythe said...

Thanks, Caddie, if I've learned anything in life, it's that terms and names can change from one end of a road to another. What Ralph Goff calls a grubbing hoe in Saskatchewan, I call a mattock in West Virginia. And then there's terms like soda, pop, soda pop and "coke."

I don't like the plastic much, Ralph, I think the old sisal holds knots best. (Some folks ALWAYS complain!)

These are the ones, Penny. Who knows the Russians would do if they saw a picture of my wood rack? lol ( I assume they meant online security, but who knows?)

Sixbears said...

Sounds like a plan. Beats the heck out of watching TV.

Marian Love Phillips said...

I don't see anything wrong with your wood rack! I can't understand why Facebook would not let you post it - that makes no sense to me at all. Did they message you in private? Never had them to contact me other than my opinion on what is being posted like news, stories or videos.

Gorges Smythe said...

THAT'S for sure, Sixbears!

LOL - Marian, they're probably afraid that if the Rooshens and Chinamen get hold of my high technology, that it will change the balance of power in the world!

Crystal Mary said...

Well done. That is very intuitive.

deborah harvey said...

beautiful view.

Gorges Smythe said...

Thanks, Crystal and dh!