With the completion of the "evening recreational area"--complete with a fire pit--one of the first things I realized that it needed to be successful was wood. You have to have wood in order to have a fire in the pit. Our neighbors to the north of us donated the wood for the first two fires, but that wood quickly burned in the first two fires we had this week. We had gotten down to the nitty gritty with only a few pieces left which put some urgency into the need for wood. I really did not want to bother my neighbors for more wood, nor did I want to do as my big city children would do and buy some wood at the local super duper grocery store. Neither would the wife allow me to torch any of the furniture we have around the house that no one ever sits on. The solution was just down the road in the local national forest--there is tons and tons of wood there! Plus it is in my price range--free! So that is what I did this morning I set off to get myself some wood for the evening recreational area's fire pit.
Now a person needs to understand this--I live in Montana. In Montana, with a little muscle and effort, no one should ever have to pay for wood to burn in fireplaces, fire pits, or wood stoves. The national forest is good about letting folks get as much fire wood as they need as long as they use the designated areas. It is a win-win situation for everyone--the national forest gets rid of trees it doesn't want, and people get some great firewood. Thus it was that I set out this morning at 6:00AM with a wood saw, camera, my tunes, and a bottle of water. The early start time was to do a little critter creeping in hopes of catching some of Bullwinkle's relatives hanging out in the woods--thus the camera. That was kind of a futile effort as the only critters I saw were deer, marmots, and squirrels. But into the woods I went . . . a man on a mission . . . watch out Paul Bunyon!
One of the prevalent trees that grow in the national forest in our area is the Lodge Pole Pine. The tree got its name from the fact that these trees grow tall and straight--perfect for the sort of lodging (tee pees)that the American Indians used in our area. Several years ago a fire swept through the area and torched a lot of the trees. As they fall they are available for firewood. As you can see in the picture above it is a regular cornucopia of firewood for the hauling. I found an area that quite a few previous wood hunters had used and decided to start there.
With great excitement and gusto I jumped out of the pick-up, grabbed a fallen tree, and began the fine art of sawing it into a usable size for the fire pit--about 12 to 16 inches in length. The goal was to fill the bed of the pick-up with ready-to-use firewood. After 15 minutes and maybe eight to ten pieces sawed I had exhausted myself and basically thrown a grain of sand in the bed of the pick-up towards the goal of filling it up. Add to that the attack of the killer mosquitoes who had to have sucked at least a pint of blood out of me and this Paul Bunyon-thingy was going nowhere fast. At this rate I figured I'd be out in the woods, drained of blood, and the pick-up no closer to being filled even after several hours. Buying wood from the local super-duper market was beginning to look good--I don't know if that was because of the lack of blood or because I was tired of sawing. There had to be a better way!
In a stupor I stood there staring at all that wood around me and then I looked at the saw in my hand--this was futility at its best. It was like carving a tooth pick out of a two-by-four! Then I looked closer at what was around me--I quit focusing on the big picture--there was firewood everywhere for the taking. All I had to do was bend over and pick it up! Everywhere that someone had fallen a tree to cut up into smaller firewood were the remains of the wood that was deemed unsuitable by their harvesters. There will scraps of firewood--from six to ten inches in length--laying everywhere. All I had to do was to do was a little of that ancient art of gleaning--picking up the leftovers! Within an hour I had the bed of the pick-up filled! I figure I cheated the mosquitoes out of a couple of pints using this method. It sure saved a lot of wear and tear on my body--especially my arms, and I didn't need to stop at the local hospital for a transfusion.
After a quick stop in Red Lodge to purchase tickets to a concert at the Regis Cafe on August 5th and a re-stocking of beverages for the evening recreational area, I was home by 10:30AM. The firewood was unloaded by the evening recreational area, the truck bed cleaned out, and the itching had stopped from the millions of mosquito bites--it was a good morning! Of course, it rained in the afternoon and soaked all the wood, I didn't see a moose, and I still have yet to find that mythical creature of Montana . . .
Until the next adventure I keep my eyes peeled for the elusive Beer! In the meantime, Paul Bunyon's reputation and legend are safe! Don't call me Paul Bunyon, just call me Mini Paul!