I blog about wooding every year, not because I can’t think of anything else to blog about, but because it is such a huge feature of rural French life. Like us, most country people rely on wood as the main source of fuel, and with winters like you get in Creuse, you need to have a very good stash ready. Preparing for each winter takes a lot of time and effort. We’re wooding for several hours each day at the moment.

Our stack is building up nicely now

We’re running a bit late this year for various reasons, but we’ve finally got the bit between our teeth, and have done so for the last few weeks. Luckily we have plenty of fallen trees on our estate that have been aging for a year or two, so the wood is perfect for burning this year. All we have to do is convert each large dead tree into chunks of wood that a) we can carry without getting a hernia, and  b) will fit into the fireplace after they’ve been split. Bear in mind regarding point a that we have a long way to carry the wood since our current gleaning ground is on the lake promontory that we can’t get close to on four wheels.

Here’s how the wooding works. First we put the trailer on the car and drive down to the current wooding spot. (We no longer try backing the trailer right down to the water’s edge to save some legwork. Not after last week when the car got stuck and we had to drag it up with the tractor.) Nessie our dog always comes to keep an eye on things. She runs down after us, not as fast as she used to but then she is nine.

We start by marking up the selected tree at 50 cm intervals. Anything longer won’t fit into the stove. Then Chris fires up the tronconeuse and saws and I start to lug.

Crossing the stream is the trickiest part

And lug, and lug … you get the idea. When the trailer’s full, we load Nessie up into the car along with the saw. She refuses to make the return trip by foot these days. Well, it is uphill and she’s getting on.

And yes, the car really is at that angle. We have some steeply sloping land.

Back at the barn, Chris unloads the logs while I start splitting.

And splitting …

Chris keeps bringing the logs

and then stacks the split chunks, until the trailer’s empty and we can go and collapse! We reckon we’re processing a stère of wood each session (a stère is a cubic metre) and probably have around five cordes in total. A corde is around 4 stères although the precise amount varies depending on the région you live in. Here it’s 4.4.

And Caiti, yes, I know it’s not cool to tuck my jumper into my trousers but they’ll fall down if I don’t! Plus I’m a child of the ’60s – you tucked everything in back then…