Life in Alaska’s bush centers on the outdoors and the land, nearly all of our necessities come from the there. Food, firewood, building material, salad greens, even plants for medicinal uses you name it we probably get it from our backyard. Speaking of firewood every winter about this time all you’ll be hearing around our part of the woods are chainsaws and snow machines cutting and hauling in the next years firewood and building logs. Like most aspects of bush life putting up firewood is a family affair where we all pitch in. Falling the trees, and getting them in is my job. Jenny and I do most of the splitting while the boys stack it up.
Although at six years old they like to show their stuff by pickin’ up a splitting maul and beat a few of the logs into submission. They manage to get a few split mostly they tenderize them. None the less they love doing it and it’s encouraging to watch them be a part of a lifestyle not many other have the chance to live.
Normally we start getting in our firewood in late February or early March when the snow conditions are at their best. However this year we had an unseasonably warm rainy spell just after New Years, then a few days of temperatures in the minus numbers, so the conditions are fantastic for getting around with the snow machine. After the weather cooled down from the warm spell in January, we spent a few days snowshoeing the woodlot hunting for beetle killed spruce and old gnarly birch trees. Between the two they supply the majority of our fuel for heating and cooking. Scouting for firewood on snowshoes has some extra bonuses besides the extra PT it give us a chance to hunt a few Spruce hens or bunnies for the stewpot. Wood being our only source of fuel for cooking and heating, it usually takes us some where around ten cords to get us through the next twelve months before the cycle starts again. That comes to about twenty-five to thirty good sized spruce trees and ten to fifteen birch trees. In a good snow year I can get them in in about two to two and a half weeks of ten hour days, but since we got an early start this year we only have about eight hours of day light. Because of the short days some days I’ll get in five of six trees, while other days it’s a fight to get in two or three. When all the logs are in, the real work starts. Throughout most of the summer we will spend a day or two a week cutting the logs to stove length, then splitting them up and stored in the woodshed. It’s a lot of work but it sure is satisfying to see a full woodshed when the snow starts to fly. Happiness in the bush is “a root cellar full of spuds, a moose in the cache, and full wood shed”