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Wood like Chicken

November 6, 2013
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Parting out is the name of the game these days.  Once a week I part out a chicken to make Hangdog’s lunch chicken, chicken for several meals, and quarts of broth.  Even though he leaves the farm to work, he takes food from here to make the day in the city go down a little smoother.  Once a day I split wood.  I embrace the work, and continue the continuum of food, wood, fire and water.

One chicken, many meals

One chicken, many meals

Parting out keeps me out of trouble.

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I think of scenes like this…

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or this.

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But reality is there are a lot of days like this.  Big live chickens that need to get dead.

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Or dead trees that need to get down, and they pay you back for your trouble with bark slivers.  Not fun, and equal to stinging nettles or chestnut burrs.

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So while the fire is starting, I piece out the seasoned wood, like the Sunday chicken.  I decipher each piece for different uses.  I wait to hear the coils start to heat, and I keep evaluating, splitting, sorting and stacking.  I make note while I wait for the fire to heat us and the water, it’s laundry time, set clothes to wash after the water is pre-heated, and hang clothes to dry over the furnace register.  Use the wood, three times in addition to the heat it has already generated in my person.  I’ve already peeled off my vest.  The gloves stay though to be the clothing that gets the bark slivers.

kindling, kitchen wood, ?

kindling, kitchen wood, knot for night?

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To me splitting wood is like a trance or even a place to escape to.  A place where the firewood and water from the spring meld into one big picture/system in my mind.  Deep in the woods lies our spring, water power pumps a portion up out of that deep canyon into Jane’s field.  More pictures drift into focus.

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From there the water takes the gravity route down to the barn and house simultaneously.  Spring water at the barn stays cool and unadulterated, the pipe to the house takes that water to “civilization” where it will be heated with the firewood from the woods where the spring headworks are.  Like the chicken or the wood I will never make that water whole again.  But I understand that water, wood and chicken.  I know where they started and I understand that I sidetracked them for my pleasure, sustenance, life?  That’s my poetry.

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23 Comments leave one →
  1. Eumaeus permalink
    November 6, 2013 9:07 am

    That is your poetry, indeed. Matron, you can throw down. I like this. I like. I like.

    ‘course it’s always there. But I do like this.

    ……

    .. you don’t have to split that wood. you just show the wood the ax and it’ll split itself. or perhaps the lightest touch… i don’t know if i envy that kind of wood… it’s been a long time since is split softwood. i’m used to my twisted hickory and oak perhaps

    • November 6, 2013 9:20 am

      I agree that is an easy piece, but many are knot 😉 I do a lot of splitting with a maul and wedge too, even softwood can get gnarly. Hardwoods here are few and far between and best reserved for cold spells. Feral fruit or nut, maple and alder is about all the hardwoods that grow here in this rain zone, as you descend into drier parts oak makes an appearance. We have one oak tree to the west that barely exists, it’s tiny for a hundred+ year old oak, but it’s an oak. Probably a lonely guy too, sitting on the edge of the field waiting for the conifers to overtake him…

  2. cookie permalink
    November 6, 2013 9:15 am

    The best post yet. Working in my city office, feeling so grateful.

  3. Bev permalink
    November 6, 2013 11:48 am

    It is the month of giving thanks, but it applies to all year round. Knowing all the work that goes into that chicken, wow. We personally know every step that went into that bird. Your wood warms you, cutting, splitting, right up until you the need that hot water. Finally you get to enjoy a cold stormy day soaking in the warmth of the fire. Love the pic of those bright cheery leaves. Everything you and your family have done every day is a piece of the whole.

  4. November 6, 2013 12:41 pm

    So easy for us city folk to wax nostalgic without truly appreciating the effort and energy involved getting there. What a beautiful post.

  5. Bev permalink
    November 6, 2013 2:09 pm

    Oh, wow. Thought I was looking at leaves on water. They are like turkey conks. I have never seen any like that. Beautiful.

  6. Catherine permalink
    November 7, 2013 3:51 am

    Loved today’s post. I look for the knotty pieces for the night fire as well. Always want to be sure there are some embers for morning.

  7. November 7, 2013 5:04 am

    Two words, Matron: Log Splitter. There is joy in splitting with a machine, too. We have one, and I love that thing almost as much as I love my brother. (just kidding about that, but I do love it)

    • November 7, 2013 6:05 am

      That’s for the big stuff…got one. This is for the stuff too small to bother with splitting with the splitter, and I need smalls for cooking…the furnace no big deal, the larger the piece the longer it burns. I always think it’s like driving, I think you should learn to drive a manual transmission rig, then move on to the automatic, gives you a better understanding of the task. Splitting wood for the cookstove lets me understand the tree.

      • November 10, 2013 4:11 am

        Okay. I do feel better knowing that you’ve got a log splitter, and I can see how this would be a meditative practice, and good especially for a mum with many milling about inside. “Take care of making supper, honey, and changing the baby and whatnot, and I’ll go outside and split a little wood.”

  8. November 7, 2013 7:15 am

    I wood like 2 chicken.

    I have yet to find the zen of wood splitting. I can totally check out when cutting up a bird though (and have the scars to prove it). Wood splitting requires concentration. Which check will I hit? Where are the knots? What kind of wood is this? Oak splits easily. Walnut too. Elm a little less so. Black locust and hedge need to be cut small before it needs to be split because you ain’t gonna do it without hydraulics. I won’t touch honey locust.

    Your last paragraph is great. Just great.

    • November 7, 2013 8:42 am

      Hemlock is the honey locust of the Cascades. My dearest always says, “Hydraulics are man’s best friend.”

      • November 7, 2013 10:36 am

        Sorry, the honey locust comment was a joke. The tree is typically covered from trunk to twigs in 6″ thorns. I put a thorn all the way through my shoe (and foot) a couple of years ago. It also appears to be covered in something that causes a reaction as my foot swelled up quickly. It’s not too bad to split but I won’t hardly touch them. I ran a honey locust through my sawmill not too long ago and the sawdust had the most amazing smell. Otherwise we just cut those down and burn them over the stump.

        • November 7, 2013 11:11 am

          Geez, and I thought the thorns on the Crataegus was bad in the hedgerows 😦

        • November 7, 2013 11:16 am

          Here is a sapling and here is a fairly mild young tree.

          Permies tend to like these but they are death to tractor tires. I prefer black locust by a wide margin.

        • November 7, 2013 12:04 pm

          Permies as a general rule eschew tractors 😉 Unless of course they need one for some work! Or it belongs to someone else and they can borrow it.

        • November 7, 2013 11:28 am

          How did we survive before Wikipedia? Here’s a better one.

        • November 7, 2013 12:04 pm

          We got more exercise, going to the bookcase and getting an encyclopedia off the shelf.

        • November 7, 2013 12:06 pm

          Ugh. Makes me tired just reading that.

  9. November 7, 2013 11:49 am

    Hmmm wonder if those thorns would be enough to stop the wild hogs 😀

  10. mica permalink
    November 7, 2013 3:06 pm

    Ive been away, so glad to read this-what a beautiful post.

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