How much wood would a wood-lugger lug?

Winter descends upon New England, and with it the need for firewood. Also firewood-lugging.

Do you have a fireplace? I mean a real one. The kind of fireplace John Winthrop Jr. and his gang put in their homes in the 1600s.

Sure, those fake fireplaces can be charming — like in the front room at Fox Creek Tavern in Ipswich, or the back room at American BBQ in Rowley. But they don’t require firewood-lugging. They only require power cord-plugging. You don’t have to be physically fit to slide prongs into their proper slots in a wall outlet. With a real wood-burning fireplace, on the other hand, you must lug firewood. It helps to be Popeye. Eat your spinach.

It also helps if your wood is stacked close to your fireplace. This minimizes the amount of lugging you have to do, and the amount of spinach you have to consume. However, it probably isn’t feasible to have a mountain firewood stacked in your living room; a single cord is 128 cubic feet.

So it’s helpful to understand high-efficiency firewood-lugging.

Pay attention, class.

To begin, a real-life example of the principle in question:

Our woodpile is located inside our garage, against the back wall. To get firewood from our garage woodpile to the living room fireplace requires quite a complicated process.

First, you must assess the size of your firewood. Firewood comes in various lengths, and the average girth of the average pieces will also affect your calculations. (My firewood typically comes from Wolf Hill Home & Garden Center, at Route 1 and Linebrook Road, less than a mile from my home.)

Then there’s the question of your firewood carrier — the device you use to lug your logs. My particular top-grain brown suede log-carrier (also purchased at Wolf Hill) is basically an expensive rectangle of thick leather with a couple of straps for handles. In my case, it holds about five pieces of my particular size of firewood. Which is plenty, because I can’t stand to eat any more spinach.

I go to the garage, load the carrier, and head back through the house to dump my five pieces of firewood into my living room firewood rack, which holds a total of about 15 pieces of firewood. So I have to make three round trips between woodpile and fireplace.

But here’s the key to efficient firewood-lugging. After the third wood-dump, I return to the garage to toss my empty firewood carrier. I could simply throw it, as usual, on top of what’s left of the woodpile, turn around and return to the house. But no. (Pay attention now.) I toss the carrier and then pick up one more log and take it with me, back into the house.

Eureka!

I bring the one additional log into the living room and said log on top of what’s already stacked in the firewood rack.

I’m gaining one stick of firewood for every three trips to the garage. Those 15 logs become 16.

Check the math! I’m eliminating every 15th trip to the garage. That’s more than a 6% gain.

Over the course of the entire winter, how many trips to the garage could I spare myself? Lots. About twice a month, I get a day off from firewood-lugging.

Think of the time I’ll save. I’ll be able to learn calligraphy. Take a Wordle class. Search the house for that missing cat. 

Life is short. Spend it wisely. Not lugging firewood. Every trip to the woodpile, add a log.

At the end, on my deathbed, I’ll be able to rasp one final word of wisdom to my loved ones:

“Spinach … eat 6% less of it!”


Doug Brendel lives in Ipswich, Massachusetts, in an antique house with an impossible number of fireplaces. Check him out at DougBrendel.com.

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