At Last Sweet Spring

At Last Sweet Spring

By Martin L. Klein

I awoke this morn from fading dream To hear a cheerful redbird sing Upon the sprigs of budding green He spoke to my heart…at last sweet spring! And sweet it is, unless you happen to live inside the tornado belt.

We seem to get more intense weather every year about this time in the Midwest and South, the only upshot being the increase in available firewood from trees blowing over.

It is late April, and I am currently processing green firewood for next heating season. So if you haven’t yet begun to get your hardwoods up and drying, now would be a good time to start. What you split and stack now should be quite ready to burn by October. 6 months is the general rule, unless you’re dealing with very green oak. And since I sell firewood from October thru February, I usually stack it in rows positioned according to when it was processed. That way nobody gets the green (except me) when it’s time to sell it.

I took a walk among the Black Locust trees today and noticed several that are of perfect size and shape for turning into fence posts. By size I mean at least 6 inches in diameter, and by shape I refer to how straight the trunks are overall. But if you are a bit like me, you may see the rustic charm in crooked posts, reminiscent of the days when farmers would fence their fields along the dirt roads with hedge posts of any imaginable shape. And since they were made from Osage Orange, some are still to be seen. But, alas, they are relics, most having been replaced with treated pine, metal, or the most hideous of all…vinyl.

However, to get back on track, I like posts that are reasonably straight, since they are easier to level and run in a straight line. Besides, the older I get, the less time I want to spend being creative over just getting the job done. So, if you are new to utilizing Black Locust trees for posts instead of just plain great heating wood, it is a good idea to wait till the sap is up and running before cutting. This will allow for very easy bark removal. The bark should come off in long strips, exposing the rather wet, green wood beneath. It is my experience that, when the new leaves are fully formed, the sap up sufficiently for bark stripping. From that point on through mid summer is the best time. I get good results at the time they are sporting their fragrant white blossoms. Once the bark is off, they must be seasoned well before you dig any post holes. Otherwise, the 2 or 3 feet you put in the ground will rot inside of a few years if not sooner. I usually keep mine off the ground while seasoning. This discourages unwanted bugs from taking up residence in them. It also prevents end-rot. But if you prefer to stand them on the ground, give yourself a bit of extra length when cutting. 8 ½ to 9 feet is a good idea. You can always cut off the first few inches where they made ground contact while seasoning, and, any excess length once they are installed. This also gives you more options on how deep you want to plant them in the ground.

So, I’m all talked out, but glad to be able to get another letter from the woodlot posted up here since it genuinely is now springtime! Actually, I’m sitting in the house at my computer. But you know what I mean. By the way, I wrote that little poem tonight hoping to cheer some who may be in un-cheerful circumstances. Remember that He who made the birds to sing and formed each bud and flower to bloom in its time is still in control. Happy Wood Burning!

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