Wednesday, February 8, 2017

More bling for the tractor - forks!

Our primary heat source is our wood stove. And we love it. What we don't love quite as much is handling the firewood. Our business process improvement background tells us to streamline the process. In this case, that means minimizing touches. How many times do you touch (move) the wood? How can you reduce those touches?

You touch it when you cut it down, when you buck it up, when you split it, when you stack it, and when you move it from storage to use areas. And there is inevitably a pile step or two in there also.

Last year's overflow wood
That's a lot of touches
We decided a good way to reduce touches would be to change how we stack and store the wood. And to do that, we needed to make a small capital investment in tractor bling. We bought forks for the bucket. 
Getting in position to put on the forks
We have lots of wooden pallets - you can get them for free if you're willing to scrounge around a bit - and we used some to form an open-front wood bin.

Cooper helped
Ta da! A wood bin, or pod as we're calling them
 Then we moved it next to the wood pile.

Carefully positioning the forks 
Carefully placing it by the pile
We filled it up and then moved it to the front porch (our "use" area).

Wood on parade!
Attractive? No. Easy to reach from the front door? Yes.
We typically kept two 10-foot long wood racks on the front porch for easy loading to the wood stove just inside the door. It would take 5 bucket loads to fill each rack with Chris getting the wood from the storage area, bringing it around to the porch, dumping it on the ground, and leaving to get another load while I filled the rack. It'd take nearly two hours to fill both racks and it always seemed to be miserable out when the racks needed to be filled. Now? Yes, it took a bit of time to fill the pod, but it was easy to pick up and drive it around, easy to set on the porch, and no unloading was necessary. 

We'll continue this method for this year - load the pod from the storage area, move it, use it, repeat. But! Here is the awesome part. Next year when we gather firewood from the forest, we can bring the pod with us and load it in place. Then we can simply put it in the storage area and grab it when we need it. Yes, we'll need lots of pods, but as mentioned, pallets are easy to come by. 

We're finding that a full pod is a bit heavy for the tractor bucket (it's way out there remember, so the leverage ratio is a bit off). We'll likely have to only fill the pods 2/3 full to make that easy to move. But I think it's going to be so much easier in the long run. Many, many, fewer touches. Woot!

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