Thursday, January 12, 2012

Stored wood and wasted resources

Wood gleaned from neighbor in raised beds
Yesterday I was salvaging fire wood from a neighbor's home. To do this required a a somewhat awkward phone call to my neighbor, who is a widow, asking if she might allow me to haul the old wood away.  Her husband had stored up a large, nicely stacked woodpile in back of their home, with anticipation of burning it sometime in the fireplace.

As one who regularly gathers and burns wood, I painfully watched this wood pile ever so slowly rotting over the past 5-10 years.  Even a hardwood, like my neighbor's oak, only stays hard so long before it turns "punky". This process is also know as splating. The fungi do their work to rot away the wood, which over time turns it useless for burning or woodworking.  Thankfully my neighbor's wood was not rotted to the point of being worthlessness for burning.

Jotul wood burning stove
This experience reminds me of a passage in the Bible where Jesus tells his disciples "You are the salt of the earth.  But if the salt loses it saltiness, how can it be made salty again?  It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet." (Matthew 5:13).  We all have talents and resources that can benefit others, what a shame if we save them up for some later date that never comes.

PS  While some have concerns that wood burning releases CO2 into the atmosphere, it actually is CO2 neutral. Carbon stored in wood is emitted into the atmosphere as it decomposes.  So by burning wood, instead of carbon-producing fuels such as propane, or electricity from a coal-burning plant, it actually can reduce once's carbon footprint, depending on how much fuel is required to cut and chop the wood.

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