Slab wood

Slab wood

A local specialty lumber mill has offered me all the slab wood I can handle for firewood! My friend manages Irion Lumber Company near my home in  in Wellsboro, Pa.  Irion Lumber specializes in curly or tiger maple, cherry and walnut. Most being used for the antique furniture industry.They also distribute other uncommon specise such as mahogony and butternut. They are passionate about thier products and just great folks  to be around.

I will use this not only for my home heat but also for evaporating sap this spring hopefully! I am trying to get all the equipment I need so that I can expand my operation this year. It looks like I will have permission to a whole hillside of maples this spring! The largest investments will be taps, hoses, utility 4-wheeler, and an evaporator. If anyone knows where I might be able to get this equipment for free or for a low cost, please let me know!

Second trailer load

Second trailer load

Irion Lumber Company

Irion Lumber Company

Irion Lumber Company

Irion Lumber Company

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Wood splitting with old tires.

Wood splitting with old tires.

I had seen some video and pictures a while back of folks using tires to aid in wood splitting. I don’t know what took me so long to incoporate that myself.
I just stacked three tires over a block the other day. The block underneath is not flat on top, which would be most annoying in any other case. I put a log on top, in the tires, and swung. SPLIT! and the two pieces stayed together. I took a few steps around the side and swung again. SPLIT! I was able to quarter a log with out picking up or adjusting a single thing!
This is GREAT! This saves so much time and bending over.
The only thing I have to adjust is the tires shift now and then from the splitting. But that just takes a bump of your leg or tap of your foot to get them in line again.
Ingenious!


Charles helps center the log

Charles helps center the log

I had a great weekend.  Saturday morning started with a pancake breakfast with bacon from our local market down the road.  Then Charles and I went to go split wood for a few hours. He enjoyed watching the wood split apart with the swing of a maul. He also tried to pick up the biggest pieces he could carry and take them to the trailer.  He also enjoyed the bluegrass music being played from the van while Dadda worked. I truly enjoy these moments spent with my son.

For lunch, we all had a picnic at a local park.  Before dinner we all worked outside around the house. The weather was beautiful all day.

Like I said, I had a great weekend with my family.


The Sugar Shack

The Sugar Shack

I have been delightfully pleased by the output of the 15 taps I have. Two or three of my 5 gallon buckets have been overflowing by mid day! I just wonder how much I have lost because it filled over. I also had one hose back out of the bucket, and again the same tree, this morning the bucket had blown away. Fortunately, that tree isnt a huge producer, but every little bit adds up! I just went to my friends house and dumped 25 gallons into his bulk tank.

As I stated before, I am just tapping and collecting. He has the time, equipment and experience to boil it down. So I get half the maple syrup that my sap produces as a trade off for not having to boil it. So anyway, I went to his sugar shack and no one was around. I was hoping he would be home, so I could have gotten his picture in here. Maybe when he starts boiling I will run over and get some pics of the process.

I posted a picture of a sugar shack that looked like his a few posts back. Today while dumping my buckets, I decided to snap a few pics of his shack for you to see. He has a stainless bulk tank that is really just an old  milk tank from a dairy farm. He has hoses from tapped trees all leading to this tank through one final hose. Then out the back he has another hose attached at the bottom with a shut off valve. This hose goes straight out the back as the hill slopes down the hose stay straight and meets the shacks roof where it enters the shack. Quite ingenuous if you ask me!

Bulk tank for sap storage

Bulk tank for sap storage

Hose entering shack through eves

Hose entering shack through eves

Then in the shack he has an evaporator. I believe his set up has evolved over the years getting more and more efficient with better equipment. As you can see there isn’t much room inside, and my flash doesn’t work, so its a bit dark.

Evaporator

Evaporator

The shack is built into the hill so that the back side provides a wood storage place to keep the wood under roof. If you are outside, you can see at around head level, there is a trap door to feed the wood insede the shack. This is a very efficient way to feed the stove under the evaporator! inside the shack. As you can see, it takes a lot of wood to make the amount of sap that they make. The more efficient your evaporation the less wood you need. My friends set up is quite efficient…he just makes a lot of syrup!

Wood

Wood

Dry wood and trapdoor

Dry wood and trapdoor


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I was in Alabama this past week for a great reunion of brothers and sisters in Christ. During this trip I got into an interesting conversation about a new method of obtaining old growth lumber without chopping down the old growth that is still living.

You see, back in the 1800’s they would cut down trees, cut off the branches and then drag them, or rail them to the nearest river. Then these logs would float their way to larger mills down river in the bigger cities. The logs had markings on them of the companies that did the cutting so that compensation could be made to the correct company. As the logs floated, some got water logged and sank to the bottom. Theres no telling how many logs are still deep under the currents of many of our large, and mid sized rivers. These logs are amazingly preserved.

Another kind of old growth timbering is that of harvesting forests that were flooded by dams. There are many forests that have been under water for 50-100 years due to the construction of dams across North America. There are special saws that are lowered into the water and clamp onto these forgotten trees and cut them cleanly. So far it seems to be a win-win situation environmentally. Here is a link of interest for this type of timbering. And another with photos.

Businesses have grown from this sort of specialty of diving for old growth. The lumber and end products from these logs are quite expensive. The advantage is that alot of thse logs are so large that you can mill very wide planks from them. This is advantageous to many woodworking projects. It certainly has caused me to raise an eyebrow in interest.