Buying Firewood: A Comedy in Three Parts

You would think buying firewood would be a simple thing to do.  But for us, the learning curve has been tremendous.

Since our Brooklyn restaurant has a wood-burning fireplace, we always had firewood delivered.  It would arrive a couple of times per season, already split and beautifully stacked by the guys who sold it to us.  We paid between $200 and $225 for a face cord, which is a stack that is 4′ x 8′ x 16″.  We did this for years.  What we didn’t know until we moved to the farm was that the delivery guys must have been laughing their asses off as they drove away, amazed at the prices city folk are willing to pay for just about anything.

IMG_4525 Fast forward to our first delivery of split firewood at the farm.  Dave was away for the day and the truck pulled up in the morning and dumped two cords of wood on the driveway.  I paid him and he drove away.  I waited for him to come back and stack it beautifully, but he just kept driving.

As I spent the next six hours stacking firewood, I had some time to think.

A cord of firewood measures 4′ x 8′ x 4′ and cost us $200.  This was three times as much firewood for roughly the same price.  I realized immediately that we would have to start bringing loads of firewood down to the restaurant from the farm.  I just couldn’t justify paying those crazy, jacked-up prices now that I knew the actual going rates.

So, we spent the winter loading the back of the car with as much firewood as it would hold every time we made a trip down to the city.  We managed to never have to purchase any from the opportunists and it only did A HUGE AMOUNT of damage to our car.

But then we took it one step further.  We’d seen many people getting tree-length logs delivered by the truckload.  We figured that HAD to be an even cheaper way to go.  The briefest amount of investigating revealed that we could get a tri axle load (roughly the equivalent of 10-11 cords of firewood) for $100/per cord, thereby cutting our price down by half.  To make matters even better, we got a call the day before the delivery was supposed to come from the company telling us that if we could take the load right then and there, they would give us what they had on the truck.  This amounted to roughly an additional three cords worth of wood.  We were fairly elated.

IMG_9944It would be a gross understatement to say that this was a large amount of wood.  It would be an even grosser understatement to say that this large amount of wood was going to require a large amount of physical labor on our part.  The wood was delivered sometime at the end of May and, while discernible progress has been made on THE PILE, there is still a great deal of work to do.

Enter, second learning curve for former city dwellers.

We knew the wood needed to be cut into log lengths; we knew the logs needed to be split, and we knew the split logs needed to be stacked.  So, we did what anyone completely novice to this practice might have done.  We rented a splitter from our friend’s shop and started cutting the logs with the chainsaw.  Once there was a good pile cut, we put them on the splitter and took the split logs to be stacked.

After doing this for a couple of days, one of us (I honestly don’t remember who) had an a-Ha! moment.  Since we were paying for the splitter by the day, it was incredibly stupid of us to have rented it prior to having all the wood completely cut.  We quickly returned it and started again, this time with a not-stupid plan.

We would cut all the firewood.  Then, when that was done, we would rent the splitter and split all the firewood.  Then, when that was done, we would stack all the firewood.  This was a solid plan and we sallied forth.

IMG_9943Now it is the end of August and the firewood is still not all cut.  A great deal of it has been hand split (well… ax split) by Dave, Sam, Geoff, and Spencer.  The rest of it is still sitting in the lawn awaiting finishing.  Upon seeing our pile still unfinished three months later, our friend Sue took pity on us and pulled up the other day with a hydraulic splitter in tow.  She told us she’d let us know when she needs it back.  We’re guessing she either loves us or has lost her patience with our inefficiency.  Either way, we’re on the road to completion!

Tune in tomorrow to read about the very mediocre wood shed we constructed!

About applewoodfarm

Restaurateur, farmer, bartender, beekeeper, friend, wife, mother, dog lover, cat tolerater, chicken hypnotizer, blogger, and sometime yogi
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5 Responses to Buying Firewood: A Comedy in Three Parts

  1. Lynda says:

    I see a good, used log splitter in your future… 😉
    (Thanks for the warning too!!!)

  2. Bill says:

    My days of splitting and stacking firewood are over, thankfully. We put in an outdoor wood boiler/furnace. No splitting necessary. For the first year I kept the wood all neatly stacked under a shed. But now I just dump it in an unstacked pile. Not as space-efficient, but no more stacking wood. 🙂

  3. roselle van nostrand says:

    Living in stockbridge and neptune beach fl. Weeding my way north and south with the seasons.having waitressed and gardened all my life I am thrilled to read your farm life rather then the soul sucking restaurant life. Thank

  4. I know the story very well..having had the face cord or 1/2 face cord delivered and stacked in my Manhattan apartment. Paying similar prices.
    Now a full time “country” resident we order the cords and they just dumped this huge pile of wood in the driveway – we asked the delivery kid if he would come back and be paid to stack it,”sure, he replied with a friendly grin only to never see him again. Live and Learn.:)

  5. Pingback: Top Ten Lists Can be Fun! | applewood farm

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