Cutting Your Own Wood

Cutting Your Own Wood

wood cutting in the wilderness

Cutting Your Own Wood . . . in the "Highlights Menu ?!" Are you Nuts?!

You may have come to this page just out of sheer curiosity. You may have come here because you can’t believe someone would intentionally list “cutting your own wood” in the highlights of owning this house! But whatever brought you here, give me a chance to explain myself and you may not think I’m so nuts after all.

I’d like to say that cutting your own wood is fun but I can’t. I’d like to say it’s relaxing but it’s not. I’d even like to say it makes you more manly but I’d be lying to you. What I can say is that you’ll save a bunch of money and you’ll get some exercise to boot.

A cord of wood, depending on what time of year you buy it, what kind of wood it is and who you buy it from, can run you between $150-$250 a cord. You’ll need at least 3-5 cords per winter. Do the math on that and you can clearly see that if you’re only looking for heat and not some type of romantic ambiance, if you’re going to pay full price for the cords of wood,  you might as well run the heat pump, it’ll be cheaper. However, if you cut your own wood, it’ll cost $10 per cord and you can have your ambiance as well as save some bucks. In case you’re terrible at math; five cords of wood at $200 per cord will run you $1,000. Five cords of wood with you cutting it yourself will run you $50. So, $1,000 or $50, which would you rather pay? Really stupid question huh? Well there ya go.

The Sisters Wilderness has seen it’s share of wildfires and because of that, there’s wood to cut there for the next 10-20 years or more. All you need is a chain saw and a truck and lack the ability to whine and complain, and you’re set.

Summer Wood Cutting - Fire Roads

sisters wilderness wood moving

So What's the Procedure You Ask?

  1. Go Pull a Permit at the Forest Service or Bi-Mart, both in Sisters.
  2. Drive up to the wilderness during cutting season and low fire risk days as designated by the Forest Service. (Give them a call if you’re not sure)
  3. Find a spot you like, back up your vehicle or trailer.
  4. Cut a tree down or cut one that’s already down, buck it up.
  5. Load the wood and take it home.
  6. Split the wood – arm-strong style or get a wood splitter.
  7. Have a fire and bathe in the glory of $10 per cord.
  8. Buy a hand-stick to pat yourself on the back.

A Couple Words on Winter Wood Cutting

Cutting wood in the winter can be fun? No. Can be . . . gratifying? Ah no. Can make you feel manly! Ah maybe but ah, second thought . . . no. How about adventurous? Define adventure and you may have me there.

The one thing to keep in mind is that it’s cold, and not a lot of people are up there cutting. So, if your vehicle gets stuck or breaks down, just be prepared to walk home. Your phone doesn’t work because, well, you’re out there! The snow can get deep overnight and if you do make it all the way up there,  you’re more than likely going to subject your chain to some ice. That is, if you can find the wood under the snow. Is that too discouraging? Just trying to save you some heartache.

This video is showing just the start of the snow on the roads up there and it’s still okay, but up higher, it gets less okay. I think I mention the date in this video as in November so, check it out for grins.

Winter - Fire Roads

cutting down old juniper

Wood on the Property

Here’s yours truly with a “long-dead-ago” Juniper tree. My wife and I have gone over most of the property and cut down most of the dead Junipers. The only problem with Junipers is the centers get hollow and the bark holds a lot of dirt. So your chain doesn’t appreciate sawing through debris and gets dull fairly quickly.

The Juniper does burn hot though and is a lot easier to split than fir or Lodge Pole Pine. I can complain about this until the cows come home (and they do apparently) but the bottom line is, you don’t have to drive to the wilderness to get some firewood. It’s right in your back yard if you look hard enough.

Why I Like Juniper Trees . . . Not to Cut Down, But to Have on The Property.

You’ll hear people say that they prefer the Ponderosa Pine or Doug Fir to the Juniper. Personally, when we first moved here, I thought the same way. Then I learned that the Juniper tree, being shorter, allowed us to see across the ridge and get a better view. I learned that the Juniper wasn’t going to fall on the house in a wind storm. I also learned that the Juniper, having more distance between them as well as having no pine needles to drop, didn’t allow for a fire to spread as quickly as a needle covered properties with tall trees. Now, I prefer the Juniper for all those reasons. A property covered in pine needles will need a lot of cleaning. This property offers the “low-no-maintenance” plan for vegetation. I like it.