Firewood, like wine, improves with time. Just as wine ages, timber seasons. It is a lengthy process with no shortcuts. From the trunks of timber coming into our yard, to the split log going into your stove there is about three years time difference.
At Hurstead we store the wood in the length until the bark starts to lift and the heartwood begins to crack. All telltale signs that the moisture is leaving the wood. It is then labouriously sawn into rings between 8 and 10 inches long. Once in rings we then split into logs using Brenda, our vintage international tractor.
Brenda powers our hydraulic splitter and although old does the job perfectly. We could upgrade to an all singing and dancing firewood processor but we would rather invest the money in buying better quality timber and keeping a hands on approach.
Patience is a virtue and this is one we have had to learn in the seasoning of our firewood. Once our hardwood is split into logs, it looks the part but in reality is nowhere near ready to burn. So now the important final stages begin. Other firewood producers often place the split logs into bulk bags, not at Hurstead, we transfer this wood into metal cages or ventilated bags.
Now come the science! We then leave them out on the Pennine Moors subjecting it to the wind, horizontal rain, sunshine then more wind. This takes the moisture content down to below 20%.
It is simple, wood placed in an un-ventilated bag is like putting an apple in a plastic bag. It rots as the moisture can’t get away. Dry your firewood like you dry your washing, with plenty of fresh air! (Please note this does not apply to those who use tumble dryers!!)
Now we have reduced the moisture content to less than 20% it is fully seasoned. We no longer leave it outside, it is now transferred and stored in our barns. This means that when you receive your firewood it is in a prime dry condition and is ready to go on your stove immediately and start warming your home straight away.