Friday, July 2, 2021


A very big preoccupation for rural dwellers who heat their homes with a woodburning fireplace is collecting, splitting, seasoning and storing firewood. It's not just a fall-and-winter preoccupation. It's pretty much all year round. You want to make sure you have an ample supply of wood that was cut last year, or even two or three years ago. You want to ensure that it's a good type of wood for burning in a fireplace, and that it has dried out sufficiently so that you're not wasting energy boiling moisture out of your logs on a cold winter day. One method of stacking firewood is the Holzhausen, or log house. It is between seven and ten feet in diameter, and about the same in height. The logs are laid out in a particular pattern, but the most important thing is they have to be split logs, because tree bark is like a raincoat, and you're not going to dry logs properly unless the inner surface of the wood is exposed to air. Think of a Holzhausen as like a giant beehive in appearance. The logs at the top are laid out with their bark on top, forming a kind of roof.
A seven foot wide Holzhausen uses approximately two bush cords of firewood. A ten-foot Holzhausen uses about six cords. Neighbours who heat exclusively by burning wood can use six cords. Last year, I bought one bushcord and cut and split another half a bushcord by myself, and as it was a mild winter, I still had some left over. I stored it on a retaining wall in the carport and it took me an entire day to stack it once it was delivered. There were 802 logs in that bushcord I bought. This is my first year building a Holzhausen. I'm going with the seven foot model. First you put a concrete block in the centre of a circle on the ground that is six feet in diameter. You put a long pole in the centre hole of the concrete block, and you paint a line 4/5th of the way up the pole. Then you lay split logs end to end around the perimeter of the circle. The next layer of split logs points inwards towards the concrete block. You just keep on adding logs to the circle, and every so often you add a layer of shims, end to end around the circle, to ensure the logs are not too slanted towards the centre. The space in the centre is filled with logs laid vertically which act as a chimney and provide stability to the structure. The first two layers of logs seem to take a long time to complete, and after that the structure starts to grow surprisingly quickly as the diameter becomes smaller and smaller. My Holzhausen is less than two feet tall so far, because I have to stop and split the logs before I add them to the structure. I'm building it out of firewood that I've cut and split myself. It's a combination of pine, beech, maple, apple and black cherry. I have a ton of wood already cut on the island, waiting to be brought up to the house and split. This takes a lot of energy, as the trip from the island to the house is steeply uphill. Once I hook the trailer up to the lawn tractor, I can position it at the top of the hill and haul back quite a few logs at the same time. You have to do it on a dry day when it's not too hot. I'll post some photos of my Holzhausen as it progresses. But I promise you it won't look anything like this lovely one.
I'll just be glad to have a big pile of logs in my driveway getting me ready for winter. I'm like a squirrel storing acorns.

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