According to Bine, the best time to chop wood is now, in the middle of winter. This is due to the fact that the growth process of the trees stops in the winter, which means that there is also very little moisture in it and that makes it seemingly easier. Plus the fact that, obviously, there are no leaves on the trees and the tree, therefore, has less volume and weight than in summer. But despite that, you see people »preparing« firewood almost all year round.
As I wrote before and many of you will already know, a very large number of Slovenians still use wood to heat their house and water so making firewood is a big task for a lot of them. Because there is no natural gas connection in all those small villages so they would need gas tanks with butane gas. Burning wood is simply the cheapest solution. Especially since many Slovenians in the countryside own a piece of forest and thus get their wood from it for free.
We have been heating on wood ourselves for a year now. When we built our house, it was my wish to heat in a »modern« way and not have to pay attention to temperature and, for example, first have to make a fire in the stove in order to take a hot shower. Because you see that a lot here. So we opted for gas heating at the time. As mentioned, there is no natural gas available in the countryside and so a gas tank had to be placed that was filled with butane gas, in combination with a central heating boiler inside. As a result, we always had hot water and with a tap on the thermostat we could regulate the temperature. Downside: it was incredibly expensive. We have done this for ten years and we paid around € 2,200 per year for the gas.
Bine had been saying for years that he wanted to change to wood, with an eye to the future when he would retire. As it looks now, he will lose almost half of his income after he retires. However, I did not like the idea of wood and thought that we would have to walk out every hour to throw wood on the stove. Fortunately, that is no longer necessary nowadays and in the end, he managed to convince me. So a wood-burning stove was installed last January. It’s the »new« kind that has a very good usage and low CO2 emissions. So environmentally “as good as possible”, but yes, it still burns on wood :(.
In practice, heating our stove means that in spring and autumn we have to light the stove once every 2 to 3 days, in winter at temperatures above freezing point once a day, and when it freezes constantly, twice a day . That is doable. You don’t have to walk over there to check or throw wood on it all the time. In the summer, we don’t use the woodstove because we don’t need heating and we change back to gas to just warm our water. Using the gas just for warm water only costs about 30€ a month.
We don’t own any forest ourselves, but luckily all our neighbors do. A lot of them are older and they can’t keep up with maintaining all that forest anymore. That is why they give Bine permission to “clean up” certain pieces of forest and he can then take that wood for free. In this way, the heating doesn’t cost us anything. And that, of course, makes a huge difference in costs. But make no mistake, it is an awful lot of (hard) work. First to cut down the trees, then cut them into logs of about half a meter, load them up, and take them home. Then split the logs at home with an ax and pile up all the pieces. The woodshed has room for about 2 weeks worth of wood (in winter) so the rest must be stacked outside and brought into the woodshed every 2 weeks.
Fortunately, Bine is still »young«;) and strong, but how long he can maintain that hard work is the question. He is always busy outside around the house anyway and that, of course, keeps him in good condition. And if the time comes when he can no longer chop the wood himself, we can always buy wood, ready to use. And that is still more than half cheaper than gas, so in that respect, it was a good choice for us.