Asa:     I was thinking today about what my hardest challenges were in adapting to life in the 18th century.  For sure one of them was firewood. I could have nightmares about firewood.  Firewood was needed for cooking, heating, boiling water, and silversmithing.

Since you couldn’t easily cut and split firewood in the winter or during rainy seasons, you had to stockpile more of it when the weather was nice.  I had a lot to learn and many muscles to develop.  No chainsaws or logsplitters then.  An axe, a wedge, and muscles required.  I was so slow and clumsy at first.  And I had no knowledge of wood types. I had to learn that pine and maple and other soft woods burned faster than hardwoods like oak or cherry.  So I would need twice as much maple as oak. I had to learn that wood needed to be aged for up to 4 months before it was properly seasoned for the fireplace.  I had to cut and split wood everyday to keep up.  At the beginning, I would be completely exhausted after 2 hours.  By the time we left Dumfries, I could put in a full 8 hour day.

So how much wood did I need?  It depended on the winter extremes. A mild winter would require maybe 6 cords; a harsh one maybe 10 (or 18 and 30 ricks).  A cord is roughly a stack of split wood measuring 4’x4’x8′, 128 cu. ft.

Firewood made me strong and fit, and sore and tried.  I was glad to give it up when we got to Lexington where we could buy it easily.

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