Monday, July 14, 2008

Burn, burn, burn

Today I contracted for my wood. Two cords of dry at $250 a cord, four cords of green at $175. By the time I burn the two dry, the green should be ready.

The Vermonter who came to talk about cutting up fallen trees in my neighbor’s maple grove gave me lessons in wood economics. A house the size of mine could use 8-10 cords in a winter if I burned only wood, he says. I can believe it. Last year I burned 2 cords only on weekends. And this winter, I expect to be home more during the week.

He quoted me the above price, but wasn’t all that anxious to sell. He can stockpile till November then likely get $375 a cord over in Stowe where people have more money. I called someone I had heard had a better price, but they were at $225 for green with an eight-week waiting period. They aren’t even selling their dry wood yet. Not till November.

So altogether, I have now committed $1200 for wood. Tomorrow I call to find out what the prices are for fuel oil (I have an almost full tank to start, thank heaven) and for propane (I only burn a little, to knock off the chill in the living room). This year the chill may stay unknocked.

My friends and neighbors say the pre-buy programs are, well, quite unattractive. That’s the Vermont way of saying we are terrified. Usually we don’t start obsessing about fuel costs until the second or third week of August. I count myself fortunate that I have the option to burn wood as well as oil in my furnace. And that I have two dogs to pile on the covers on winter nights. Not all my neighbors are so lucky.

In a day or two, the first load of wood will appear on the side lawn. And I will proceed to shove it through a window into the cellar and stack it. Conventional wisdom is that wood warms you twice, once when you split it and again when you burn it. My Vermont neighbors reckon that this calculation comes up short; it’s more like seven times they say. Cut, split, stack, load, unload, stack, and finally burn.

The wood guy suggested that he deliver two cords at a time, a few days apart, “to give me time to get it in and stacked.” He was dead serious. He had no idea that last year it took me weeks to get two cords into the cellar.

Guess I will have to do better if I aspire to be a wood-burning Vermonter. Aerobics and weight training, all at once. Wish me luck. Better yet, come on over.

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