17 August 2008

The "W" word

No, I don't mean Walt, and I don't mean Shrub — the W in Washington DC. I mean Winter. Here it is mid-August, and we have to start thinking about it. And doing something about it. Cold weather will be upon us before we know it.

The carport cum woodshed, now cleaned up and organized

Yesterday we got out front, where the home-built carport that we use as a woodshed is located, and started cutting all the kindling that we have collected since spring into pieces that will fit in our woodstove. That's done. We had earlier pruned back some of our hazelnut bushes and apple, plum, and cherry trees. Now we have cut all the limbs and branches into 18-inch lengths for burning.

Here's a link to a topic Walt posted about firewood nearly three years ago.

And we are waiting for our firewood to be delivered. We ordered 14.5 stères — a stère is a cubic meter when you are talking about wood — through the good services of our wine-making neighbors the Denis. The senior Monsieur Denis (Jacques is his first name) is the one who actually came to our house and made the deal with us. His son and daughter-in-law, Bruno and Patricia, are the owners of the vineyards out behind our house and the owner-operators of the Domaine de la Renaudie winery down the road.

Fourteen-and-a-half stères of firewood is the equivalent of four cords in U.S. terms, if that means anything to you. Each log is about 3 feet long. If you stacked them 6 feet high in a single row, the row would be nearly 25 feet wide. We think four cords of firewood will last us at least three winters.

According to the piece of paper Monsieur Denis left with us, the wood is coming from the town of Mondoubleau, which is in the very northernmost part of our département, about 100 km or 60 mi. north of here. The closest big town to Mondoubleau is Le Mans, of race-car fame.

Jacques Denis's hand-written "invoice"

The piece of paper that Monsieur Denis left with us specifies that the wood belongs to Monsieur and Madame Biet of Mondoubleau. They are asking 30 euros, or about 45 U.S. dollars, per stère. That comes to 435 euros, or about $650.00 for the four cords of wood — $160.00 or so per cord. Remember, the dollar is very very very low against the euro these days — though that may be starting to change now. Two weeks ago the euro was worth about $1.58, and now it is down to $1.46.

The man who is going to deliver the wood to us is Monsieur Daluzeau, who lives in Mareuil-sur-Cher. He is going to charge us 116 euros — that comes to or approximately $43.00 per cord — to deliver the wood to us and stack it. The last time we bought wood the guys who delivered it just came and dumped it on the ground. We had to stack it ourselves. It needs to be stacked and covered with tarps so that it won't get too wet over the winter.

Of course, after it is stacked, a certain amount of it needs to be cut so that we can burn it this coming winter. Our wood stove can only take pieces that are 40 centimeters, 16 in., long. So each log needs to be cut into three pieces. And that work needs to be done before the rains begin in ... November. Let's be optimistic and say we are going to have a dry month of October. After the wood is cut, it has to be restacked under the carport.

Meanwhile, our hedge — all 100 meters of it — needs it's annual pruning. So September and October are shaping up to be major work months. Not to mention the garden, which will need to be cleaned up and tilled. I guess we will be able to relax in November, enjoy watching the rain fall, and put together a nice Thanksgiving dinner.


  1. You have quite a job ahead there. Good luck! BTW where do you park your car? Do you leave it outdoors ... even in winter? Enjoy your weekend! Martine

  2. Wow! Lots of wood. Thanks for teaching the new-to-me word, stère :) As Martine said (Hi Martine!), that sure is a lot of work ahead of you! You guys sure keep busy.

    Do you have photos of the woodburner? Was it in place when you bought the house, or did you put it in?

    We have a small Ben Franklin type that Elliot installed when we were rehabbing our place. I love having wood burning on a cool, crisp day. I love smelling it wafting through the air when I'm walking from my car to the house, if Elliot already has one going by then. I have no interest in a gas fireplace ... it's about as cozy and wonderful to me as just turning on the stove in the kitchen *LOL* (apologies to those who love their gas fireplaces! :)).



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