my wife Ruth pointed out a sign stating, "Firewood For Sale-$400 per cord." I
immediately answered, "We are rich! We are rich!" I was thinking of the mesquite
and cedar trees growing in our remote canyons. Then I remembered all the sweat
and hard work required to make firewood out of such trees plus deliver it to paying
customers. I dropped further thought on the subject. Keeping our own firewood
supply replenished was enough work for this old man.|
I would guess that
since man first discovered fire, learned its uses and enjoyed its comforts, at
least a zillion cords of wood had been burned down through the ages. History abounds
with stories telling of the early Great Plains settlers sending out the children
pulling wash tubs with ropes gathering cow or buffalo chips for fuel. Other settlers
gathered rough tall grasses making small bundles called "hay-cats" to burn in
their stoves. Prairie fuel was hard to find and keep in stock.
cooks prepared for "woodless days" on the trail by swinging a dried cowhide beneath
their wagon box, calling it a "coozie" and filling it with whatever prairie fuel
found that day during the drive to the next camp ground. It might be wood, soto
sticks from bear grass or just a pile of good cow chips found near a buffalo wallow.
Common sense tells us that Indians moved their camps regularly because
of the lack of firewood more than any other reason. Every early western settlement
provided jobs and business opportunities by the constant need for firewood, hauling
water, moving outhouses and hauling off trash and manure the same as modern cities
favorite firewood story comes from the history of a Colorado gold mining strike
high in the Rocky Mountains. Winter forced most of the miners to flee the high
altitude snows to lower altitudes to spend the winters in warm saloons. A few
of the more hardy miners built good cabins, cut and stacked firewood for the winter,
and stayed living near their mines.
One old-timer, well-experienced in
winter survival, built a tight cabin and cut plenty of firewood to keep him snug
through the winter. At some point that winter, he discovered someone was stealing
from his firewood piles but was unable to determine the identity of the thief.
He finally drilled a hole with a wood auger into a chunk of wood, filled it with
black powder, plugged the hole and left the chunk near where the thefts were occurring.
The culprit's wood stove and cabin were heavily damaged by the blast and the two
thieves became so enraged they shot and killed the old-timer responsible. This
act prompted the other miners to hold trial, convict and hang the two wood thieves
proven guilty beyond doubt by the blast.
So, two thieves and a good man
died as a result of the theft of a product that was abundant and totally free
for the cutting. (That is, if you were not too lazy to cut.)
Trew - "It's All Trew" May
10, 2011 column