High on my priorities today: order firewood. We‘ve been burning leftovers, curupay scraps, and some of this load from a house I‘m looking after. Most of it is green, but there was some very dry pine as well.
First place I went, I could feel the humidity with my hand (I hadn’t brought the meter). They told me it was six months old — which of course means pretty useless right now. The second place said theirs was seven months old, no better. I took my meter to the third place, and immediately ordered. The weather has been dry for a while, probably won’t be after a few more days, so perfect time to order. I told them to deliver after 4:00, and returned at 3:58 to find the truck already there, the message obviously not having been forwarded. No biggie; grabbed my gloves and helped the two muchachos stack it.
The round stuff on the right was already there, but wow! Compare this to the “ton” delivered in July 2013: look at the height above the little stool in the center.
I’ll be buying from the Esso station in Las Toscas in the future!
I’ve mentioned curupay wood before, so when friends said they were replacing their deck and I could have some, I immediately made plans to build a table (better than this one). I didn’t want to be greedy, because what remained they’d use as firewood.
Then they announced plans to leave Uruguay, so I thought “why not?” They’d consider it a favor if I cleared it all out, cleaned up, and re-stacked their firewood to make the place look neater.
Back home, many hours of removing screws, stacking lumber. Many possibilities for projects. And some incredible firewood too.
Q: What do you get when you tell the leñero (firewood seller) that you don’t want pieces longer than 40 cm?
A: An excuse to buy a chain saw.
To be fair, he doesn’t cut it himself (that’s not him in the link above; last time I saw Dardo he was driving a taxi). And he charges me 20-25% less than the going rate: UYP 3,000 (USD 130+) per metric ton. Yes, per ton — I’ve discussed this before.
I just took readings of the stuff I got today: of maybe fifteen samples, most in the high teens-20%, one at 30%, and two at 11-12%.
I got back from the beach thinking it was probably the last time I’d be walking barefoot in the sand for a while. Though I’ve lit a couple fires, this was the first serious one, and the majority of the population of our house approved.
For the first time in several deliveries of firewood, it actually looks the full amount promised.
And, to my delight, almost all appeared to be under 20% water. The two observations have an important connection.
Strangely (especially for such a humid area), firewood is sold here by weight. So (keeping it simple) if all the wood were 20% water, you pay for 200 kg of water and 800 kg of combustible material. When I did some readings at woodlots a while back after a couple days of rain, some were showing 35% water. “Oh but don’t worry,” they told me, “it’s just because of the rain. It’s been dried, and it will dry out again in a few days.” Meanwhile please pay the same amount for 350 kg of water and only 650 kg of combustible material.
The logic of which either escapes, or doesn’t concern, them the least.
We inherited a piece of curupay lumber when we moved here. A meter long, perhaps 2″x3″, it weighs much more than any unsuspecting person would imagine. Curupay is used for beams, and though it has about the highest heat output of any wood here, its price is such that you’d be crazy to burn it. Unless, of course, you happen to have had incompetent local aluminum door installers destroy your floor and the frame of the wooden door they removed.
The pieces have sat, undisturbed, in our carport for a very long time. I tried cutting one with our crappy little German circular saw, which basically burned its way through the board, but my new table saw zipped right through them.
This is what just one of those pieces looks like burning. I’m scared to put in more than one piece. You can feel the heat across the room. Especially nice on a cold day like today, in a typically uninsulated Uruguay house.
When we got our first wood stove, I saw several places on very busy roads, with massive piles of firewood (leña), apparently for sale, unattended, and no way to contact the seller. Surely they would paint a phone number on the wall, at least?
After a few years here, despite some excellently run local businesses, the simple act of procuring materials often seems like a game of “catch me if you can.” Still, I think might suggest a sign if I meet the owner:
Leña means firewood, and the guy who sells it is a leñero. This guy appears on weekends and holidays near the zoo (yes, we have a zoo). He always waves to everybody. I’ve waved to him for a couple of years when I walk the dogs, thinking one of these days I want to ask him about that truck.
Finally did: 1954 Commer (English). He’s got a better one, he says, and plans to put the engine from this into that. I didn’t ask when, or how long he’s been planning that; meaningless questions in the land where ‘next week’ can mean ‘next month.’