Sunday, December 10, 2006

Burning Issues

Fire wood doesn’t grow on trees at least not the protected trees of the bosque around the finca. Only those broken braches which have been torn from the trees by the Tramontana winds may be gathered. The whole village it seems is on permanent alert for the sound of falling firewood.

The olive harvest is not going to be as productive this year due to the dry weather, though it is thought that the quality of olive oil pressed from the fruit will be high. After the harvest the boughs of the Olive trees will be cut back hard to encourage young growth which carries the fruit. Many a young farmer has spent happy hours entwined in the limbs of an elderly Olive because he will have two cash crops from his plantation, first of all the Olives themselves and then a little later firewood from his pruning.

Firewood at the retail level sells at around 3€ a small bag which will burn away within a couple of hours. Buying olive wood from farmers directly is difficult because they tend to have an established customer base which accounts for their entire crop. On a cold day it really warms your heart to see your neighbours taking delivery of a wagon load of fire wood, fuel which they will add to last years stack, whilst you continue to forage for windfalls.

Those of you like ourselves who originate from central heating and gas fire lands and have no real experience of real fires are in for another shock. Even if you are able to cut down a tree or two that wood will have to be stored for up to two years before it is dry enough to be usable. Heat given off by the wood varies too, blonde wood as the Spanish like to call it includes the wood of fruit trees as well as soft wood and gives a little over half the heat given off by a hardwood like oak.

In springtime I will prune back the Mulberry trees and add their wood to my stockpile and then dry it out for a year or two; unless I get paticularly cold in the meantime.

Due to the hike in bottled gas prices I have used half of my stored wood already. This store comprised of a gnarled old trunk pruned from the fig tree, windfalls as well as recycled window and door frames. There was also that old beam I found in the swimming pool along with the mumified cat! Oh and some accidental oak too! (Don't worry! The cat went into the compost heap!)

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