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How long is wood good?

 
pollinator
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We're buying an acreage that was logged about five years ago and still has stacks of logging slash up to and including tree trunks. We will need to do a lot of cleanup to turn this into a homestead. It's on a small island off the coast of Vancouver Island and was previously forested with Douglas fir, bigleaf maple, etc. Is it likely that any of this wood that has been sitting out for five years is still ok for firewood or should we just try to use it up to make biochar, hugelkultures and wood chips?
 
steward
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There are many variable here, and most dont seem to be in your favor.  I assume we are talking about a pretty wet area.  Off course, nothing beats direct inspection. I would assume that most of the wood is pretty far gone, but you may be able to salvage some firewood out of it.  
 
pollinator
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i don't know your climate or those species, but in my wood we are still cutting trunks from The Great Storm of 1986. the sapwood is long gone, but the heart wood is in perfect condition. Oak and chestnut.

take a chainsaw and cut a few to see
 
Andrea Locke
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Thanks John and Michael. We don't have the property yet, as the sale closes on August 4. The climate is very wet in winter but very dry in summer. I really don't know what to expect. At our present place, which is on an island about 100 km (60 miles) further south, we're cutting poplar wood that came down in a storm 2 years ago and it is still very good. So maybe there will be salvagable wood at the new place. As you say, the best idea is to take a chainsaw to it and find out. We'll do that as soon as we can!

If we assume the wood is still good, will it have aged adequately after 5 years on the ground and be burnable the same year, or should we store it under cover for a year before using? Or maybe there is no simple answer to that. In the same way that the question about whether the wood is likely still ok for burning after that long on the ground has a lot of variables...
 
steward
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If it's off the ground and you have dry summers, I'm guessing you'll have a decent chance of success.  I'd cut some right away and see if it's punky or rotten.

Then cut it all and split if applicable.  Stack in the open and don't cover.  Let it dry all fall and it might be good enough for use this winter.  
 
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At this point, I would be thinking... Then I have to move all that wood into a shed? That would be a lot of work!

Mike has a solution to that: Holzhausen wood stacking.


 
pollinator
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Like Mike, I too think the wood that is up off the ground should be ok for firewood.  Some of the wood on the ground may have decent heartwood.  Cut into some and see.
 
Andrea Locke
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Thanks guys. And wow! Those are the most beautiful firewood stacks ever. Like sculpture installations.
 
master pollinator
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I agree with Mike and Walt. I think a lot of this could be salvageable as firewood.

Douglas fir has long been used, untreated, for decks, fences and garden planters. And reasonably dense hardwoods like maple can surprise you, provided they are off the ground and had a chance to cure.
 
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