Preparing for the Next Winter Already

Since that major asshole Vladolf Putler had nothing better to do than to wage an imperialistic war of conquest, the prices of firewood and wooden briquettes have skyrocketed here, together with delivery times being months and not weeks. Because some governments within the EU decided – irrationally and daftily – to oppose nuclear energy and moved to burn Russian gas (and sometimes even low-quality coal, destroying in the process more area than Fukushima did) and now that supply is threatened, people are looking for alternatives. We could already have a mix of nuclear and renewables if it were not for supposedly green parties being so staunchly not green… Where was I? Firewood. People are stockpiling firewood now if they can.

Thus, my grudges aside, I have a problem. I normally keep a stockpile for two years, but my mother’s health deteriorated significantly and I had to heat the house more than before for her comfort. So now I do not need to buy a year’s worth of wood just to top up my stockpile, I need to buy it to not freeze in the winter because I only have about two months worth left.

I have ordered wooden briquettes, at an exorbitant, 50% higher price than last year, but I do not know when they arrive. If they arrive. But I got lucky, one of the suppliers from whom I was buying in the past had firewood at still a very reasonable price. Here it is, delivered today:

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

From the picture it may be apparent why it is so cheap – not very many people are willing to buy this, apparently. These are offcuts from making palettes and thus it is lotsaf tiny pieces of wood with occasional bigger pieces of board or a squared timber. It is a lot of work to sort it out into some usable form. Today I have spent six hours working on it and the results are eleven bags of tiny offcuts and approx 1 cubic meter of bigger boards, together ca 500 kg.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Two bags = one-day heating on average over the whole season.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

If I estimate it correctly, today’s work was 1/8 to 1/10 of the total, so I should have about 4 to 5 tonnes of firewood. That should see us through the winter even if the briquettes never arrive. But it is a lot of work, I will now spend at least a week sifting through this mass daily and then during winter, I will have to carry it into the cellar in baskets (now I am keeping the cellar empty in the hope of getting the briquettes, and anyway this is twice the volume of briquettes and thus would not fit in there). It is cheap, but for a price – essentially I have to take each piece of wood three-four times in my hands.

Before the firewood arrived, I was sorting through my stockpile of wood for crafting, cutting out usable bits, and bagging everything else as firewood, a task that I will continue doing after this lot is sorted out. I also had a tiny wood inspector. I do hope that cherry log is not full of holes.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.


  1. says

    Feel you there. Prices for pellets haven’t gone up that much, but yeah, I think I need to order sooner than usual. Thankfully, pellets don’t compete with normal wood, but are made from the waste of the wood industry. They also burn a lot cleaner.
    When we decided to install a pellet furnace one of our reasons was “we won’t depend on depots like Putin and Erdogan as much. People laughed at us. They’re not laughing now.

  2. says

    @Giliell, I think it is not that pellets do not compete with wood commercially, but technically. You can burn wood and wood briquettes and coal in about any generic stove, but you cannot burn pellets in anything other than a pellet stove. The briquettes that I am normally buying are also made from sawmill dust, i.e. industrial waste. But they are sold out, thus the price hike.
    I do hope to get some. With this wood I can guarantee that we won’t freeze to death, but it would be still a very cold winter without the briquettes to bulk it up.

  3. lumipuna says

    I’ve sometimes mentioned the century-old house my family sold a few years ago. It was in a town that had lots of sawmill industry back in the day, so people used a lot of scrap wood for heating. Also sometimes for construction; the main wall structure of the house was said to have been built using bits of squared timber as bricks and a mix of clay and sawdust for mortar. By the time my father grew up and moved out, the house had a modern coating and largely electric heating. I my lifetime, what firewood we used was bought from outside of the town, or sometimes sourced from trees in the yard.

    Part of my family lived on offshore islands some distance away from the town, before said islands were lost to Russia in WWII. It’s said they ferried ready-sawed construction wood and scrap firewood from the town, because it was more practical than cutting local trees.

  4. Ice Swimmer says

    lumipuna @ 3

    Ah, I think I know the town. I’ve spent a few summers there and worked for the company that owned one of the sawmills.

    It was customary in some paper and pulp mills that workers in the woodhandling and debarking department got to take home the rejected debarked wood that could not be let go into the pulping process because there was metal in the wood. A huge-ass metal detector is used for detecting the metal in the debarked logs, before they are either chipped or conveyed to the groundwood plant. The metal could damage the chipper blades or the grinding stones if it weren’t removed.

  5. chigau (違う) says

    How could you not be preparing for winter?
    Aren’t you also preparing for next planting?

  6. seachange says

    Pallets must be made of a different wood in California, because they burn fast.

  7. Ice Swimmer says

    Here at least some of the pallets are made of spruce, which crackles and makes sparks when it burns. Spruce is good in pallets because it’s strong and tough for its weight.

  8. says

    @seachange, this wood burns fast. It is mostly spruce, with an occasional bit of pine. On its own, it is not very good for heating. It is an excellent additive to the wood briquettes though.

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