Remember that locust
tree I'd been saving
as firewood insurance? It wasn't what I thought it was.
locust is considered to be top-notch firewood because you get 112% as
much heat out of a same-sized log compared to red or white
oaks. In contrast, the most common trees Mark and I cut out
of our woods give only 75% (box-elder) to 83% (black walnut) as much
heat as oak, which means more work for less reward. Effort aside,
oak and locust fires are preferred because they keep going longer into
the night and put off more heat in the process.
reanalyzing that standing dead tree and figuring it might be sycamore,
which clocks in at only 80% as good as oak. I'm not sure why I
didn't take the multiple trunks into account before, which is a growth
habit common in sycamores but rare in black locusts. I guess I
thought the way the logs were so darn tough to split meant they were
locust, but it turns out sycamore has a spiral grain that makes
splitting a bear.
The easiest way to guess how
many BTUs you'll get out of a log of mystery firewood is to wait until
it's totally dry and pick it up. The lighter the wood, the less
heat you're going to enjoy when the wood burns. Bone-dry
box-elder is nearly as light as balsa wood, and our mystery tree isn't
much heavier. Meanwhile, both box-elder and our mystery wood work
great as kindling, which is another sign of low BTU --- harder woods
are tougher to light, unless they're resinous.
The fact I've been
burning light wood all winter would explain why we've been going
through it so quickly. Luckily, the shed's still mostly full, and
Mark discovered sycamore isn't terribly hard to split if you wait until
it's 20 degrees outside. If we ever run out of fallen, dead, or
in-the-way trees and start managing a woodlot, though, sycamore isn't
going to be involved.
Our chicken waterer is the low-effort solution
to keeping your flocks' water clean and available.
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