Alas, I don't actually have one yet. I have a guy lined up to build one. I'll help when I can but as a weekend project, it would just take me too long to get it done. But, of course, he hasn't started yet and he keeps putting it off. Trades are slow, but somehow they always seem busy.
Anyway, meanwhile I'm going ahead and harvesting the deadfall from our recent hurricane. It's incredible. I didn't explore the woods much for a few weeks because they were still too muddy. (Those of you not in the northeast may not appreciate the endless flooding rains that continued relentlessly after Irene had passed -- another tropical storm, and plenty of plain old downpours.) But yesterday things had dried out enough for me to take a walk around the lowlands and it's like the Tunguska event. Okay, I exaggerate, but we hadn't had a windstorm like that for more than a decade, at least, and the wood is everywhere -- huge trees snapped off or uprooted, entangled with the collateral damage in a continuous jumble.
I'm taking advantage of the long weekend to get as much of it as I can out of the woods and piled up for splitting. Record heat for the date won't help, but I'll just have to sweat it out. I'll be all set for the fall of 2012, and 2013 I should think, if I exert myself. Getting ahead to where I'm always burning 2 year wood, and have some to share with the old folks as well, will be a win.
It occurred to me that our exploitation of firewood is essentially the opposite of what the Indians did. Having only stone tools, they could only use small diameter material. They cut saplings to clear their gardens and presumably would have taken the tops from the deadfall, but left the trunks to slowly rot away.
For me, thanks to Pie Are Square, the big pieces are the prize. With a chainsaw, a tractor, and a log splitter, I can turn a two foot section of a 30" trunk into a perfect day's supply of stove wood. The small stuff, what the Indians would have taken, is what I leave behind. (By the way, since small diameter wood burns up quickly, they must have had to attend their fires continually. We like the big stuff because it lasts a long time, so you only have to fuel occasionally.)
I have no idea how this affects the life cycle of the forest. I can speculate about all sorts of effects. But it's a reminder that human impacts can have all sorts of subtle consequences.