Heating With Wood

By: Woody Lobnitz 2008
(Used with permission)

Woody Lobnitz is a good friend of mine. He was born in 1921 so I would guess that this story takes place in the mid-1930s. His story was actually an e-mail sent to his kids with me on the copy list. It was sparked by the fact that his son and daughter-in-law (Tom and Carmen) had just purchased a wood burning furnace. Read and enjoy!

(Note added February 6th, 2010:   Woody died this morning in a hospital in Duluth; he was 88 years old. But this story, like the many other stories he told, lives on.)

Tom and Carmen have just bought an outside wood burning furnace to heat their place in the approaching winter. They have more than enough wood on their property to make it very practical. My Dad always said "wood heats you twice - once when you cut it up and again when you burn it". He was very comfortable saying that because his two oldest sons did all the cutting in the woods, the hauling, the splitting, the stacking in the basement, and carrying out the ashes. And in the spring we even had to haul the ashes to the dump!!! In spite of what he said, that wood only heated him once - it heated us six times, like the time he told us to go down to his wood lot on the Minnesota River and "make wood for the winter".

There were no chain saws in those days; we cut the trees down with a two man buck saw. We also used the buck saw to cut them into lengths that we could physically lift onto a tractor-mounted 36-inch circuler saw, which we then used to cut them into the "stove wood" length of 16 inches. When we got the blocks to the right size, we tossed them into a semi trailer equipped with a cattle rack. The sides were six feet high, so we loaded it from the rear with the tail gate removed until it had enough of a load so that the blocks started to roll back out. Then we installed the tail gate and finished loading it by putting the smaller blocks on top. All we had to do after that was drive it home, unload it, split it (with an ax, not a power splitter), put it in the basement, and stack it.

Whenever we complained, he said " It'll make men out of you; then the words 'hard work' will mean something to you". He was sure right about that! His philosophy about hard work was a big contributor to the success my brother Rog and I have had in our work lives. Whenever my Mother complained by saying (as she often did), "Bill - they're just kids", he always replied "That's right, and when I'm through raising them, they'll be men".

That's a lot of history about wood burning but it brought back memories of the past. Sorry if it bores you, but I remember it fondly.

Note to Woody: It wasn't a bit boring. Thanks for letting me use it.