Living on many acres nestled in a secluded hollow between two hills has been a dream come true for Dear Husband and I. When our search began many years ago as a newly engaged couple we had similar ideas about the kind of place we wanted to call home~as many acres as we could afford with as much privacy as we could get. Along with that initial criteria, we hoped to have running water, several fields for hay and other crops, and a few acres of woods. The search took us over many pieces of land with a wide variety of buildings or lack there of located on them. We spent more than two years in that search before finding the place that we now call home.
We were both raised in rural settings. Dear Husband, having helped his farming grandparents, had much more farm/outdoor experience than I, but together we were excited to begin our own life of homesteading with all of the hard work that would require.
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary.” Henry David Thoreau, “Walden”
Now many years later our feet are firmly planted in this soil we call home. And each year, as winter brings cold temperatures, we take account of the wood pile or lack of a wood pile, sharpen the chain saw, gather the maul and head for our small patch of woods in search of a few trees to bring comfort to our home.
For most of these years, we have been able to limit the trees we harvest to those that are already dead. The hike through the woods becomes a treasure hunt searching the ground for those trees that may have fallen and then turning our eyes to the sky looking for branches lacking signs of future growth. Each time we harvest one of these dead trees I think about how disappointed the woodpeckers will be to have lost this tree that would have offered a smorgasbord of food for the winter.
dead tree with grub worm hidden beneath the dead bark-“yuck!”
There is an old saying:
I can argue that it warms you more than twice-cutting, splitting, loading, stacking, carrying, and finally burning.
“load it up!”
While the chore of gathering wood sometimes feels like a burden, the time spent together in the woods and the satisfaction of rest after a hard day’s work remind our family that home is where your feet stay warm.