Monday, a starry morning gave way to sunshine. The wind blew a steady 25 knots from the south. It was a classic alternative energy day, one that went beyond the power coming in from the wind generator and solar array.
I spent about an hour hauling armloads of firewood from the wood shed to the beach, where I stacked it in loosely on the rocks to dry further in the wind and sun.
Most of it’s pretty dry, but as I fell new trees, I accumulate a fair amount of damp wood. And, if snow flocks the pile, everything gets wetter than it should. It would still burn, but we wouldn’t get the all important secondary burn of gasses in the wood chamber, and it would create creosote. A little day at the beach will help “cure” that.
The sun doesn’t stay on the beach long at this time of year, but I’ve learned that airflow dries wood faster than sunshine. Having both is a bonus while it lasts, but the rain and snow held off, so I dried the wood through the night. Any moisture the wood loses increases its heating value when it’s burned, so the time and effort of taking it out, stacking it, and eventually hauling it back to the woodshed to be stacked again is well worth it.
It’s easy to lose sight of the full potential of our energy sources. As Americans, we’re so set on The Solution, the silver bullet that will solve all problems that we forget the myriad additional benefits to be found, many of them subtle or incremental. The wind and sun that powers our homestead, seasons our firewood, dries our laundry, and warms our greenhouse, powers our sailboats, warms and cools the cabin, removes our snow and ice. I can’t estimate the power production and savings represented in these processes. I’m pretty sure that it matches, or even exceeds our power generation.
I’d call that added value!