Thursday, February 13, 2014

Squirrelling biomass

In keeping with the wood theme of yesterday, before the big storm blew in, I got busy in the yard gathering wood to burn in case we lose power.  The wood I've been chopping has some curing to do, won't be ready till fall, yet there's enough of it there that I'm loath to shell out for more wood now.  So I'm a little short.  Certainly am short if I need to heat the house for a few days, which, knock wood, it now looks like I won't need to.

So I dove deep into the back yard looking for sizable branches that would be worth burning, the kind of thing the neat-minded are sometimes wont to call "yard litter."  I think of it as brown gold. And I got a bunch, limbs that had fallen off trees or ones that I had trimmed a year or two back when I was trying to open up the view from our rear windows down onto the lake, and then had let lie there.  All in all, a good hunk o'biomass.

Of course, not all of it is perfect. Having been lingering on the ground for a while, some of it has a little moss or a little white stuff on it.  OK, mold, a little.  Technically, if you go by what the EPA says, I shouldn't be burning the stuff, because the mold spores get into the house.  Turns out, wood is supposed to be kept dry.

This was, honestly, a surprise to me, because when I was growing up, we burnt wet wood whenever it felt right, which was often. My dad was of the opinion -- and it was substantiated -- that if the fire was hot enough anything would burn.  So we would chop wood and leave it laying about on the ground or stacked outside, uncovered, until it was time to burn it.  The key was, of course, to have some dry stuff to burn to get started, and then we would throw whatever we had in there.

In retrospect, this is sort of ill-advised alcoholic damn-the-torpedoes bravado, made practicable by the fact that we had a wood stove (so any mold spores would just get sent on up the chimney), not an open fireplace as we have now (after we got rid of the wood stove because it was rather 70s, and not in a good way).  Which returns me to the question:  do I burn what I got, or not?  Do I waste all that effort of yesterday afternoon, gathering up some of this less than perfect wood, or do I just burn it?:

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