I suspect that in most
parts of the world, firewood looks a lot more like the photo above than
like the big split rounds most Americans are familiar with. These
were some of the smallest trees we cleared out of the newest pasture this spring, and they taught me a lot about the pros and cons of using small-diameter wood for fires.
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On the plus side, the sticks were easy to carry home full-length, allowing Mark to cut them with the miter saw
(which feels safer and cleaner than the chainsaw). We left them
uncut in a pile in the yard for most of the summer (due to pure
laziness), so they went into the shed later than the other logs, but the
wood appears to be just as dry (or drier), probably due to the large
surface area per unit volume in the thin branches. And they're
very handy for me to use since I don't need Mark's help splitting them
--- it's easy to feed the little branches into the stove whole.
are downsides, of course. You'd need an awful lot of
small-diameter firewood to add up to much heat, and they tend to burn up
quickly (due to that big surface area, again), so they won't last the
night. Plus, they're harder to start a fire with since the unsplit
wood seems to repel the first tender licks of flame.
But (especially in our
wet climate), this type of firewood would be very sustainable to
grow. I've been watching our powerline cut ever since the electric
company whacked back the big trees in 2006, and most stumps sprouted
several new stems that became large enough to use for firewood within
two to four years. Now those branches are actually getting a bit
too big to cut with the miter saw, but we never harvested them because
we always seem to be awash in firewood simply due to clearing areas for
new projects. If you had no wooded acreage, though, and needed to
heat your home, an area of coppiced trees like those in our powerline cut might do the trick nicely.