“This afternoon brought our farmers the end of their wood-splitting. From a window, where we sat comfortably at our mending, we saw last sticks being thrown to the heap, and the base of it made neat and compact, and then much as we would stop to regard and admire a fresh-gathered bouquet, the men paused to view their handiwork before leaving the scene of it, the lengthy and toilsome task over at last. ‘It’s remarkable,’ James commented of it when he came in to supper, ‘how much of a chore a fellow can get done, if he only is content to keep at it. A few minutes each day, Ellen, given over to some work or another, will one day give one ‘something done’ to be proud of. You know that was quite a heap of blocks to start at and we with only small time to give to it – some days not as much as a dozen sticks made, but,’ and he drew a happy sigh, ‘just by sticking at it- there it’s done!’”
“There has recently appeared the results of investigations into the wood-fuel supply by the Dominion Fuel Board, and while it contains little that is new to us who are extensive wood users, still, the repetition of some of the outstanding facts may remind us of matters that we have left undone in conserving this source of heat.
“Consumption of wood as a household is about one cord per head of population in Canada and therefore constitutes an important item in the fuel bill. The use of wood is primarily confined to the rural districts and to towns near the source of supply for it is inferior to coal in fuel value and, on account of its bulk, costs more to transport.
“From information gathered, it may be shown that there has been for the past twenty years; a continuous shrinkage in the farmers’ woodlots which constitute the chief source of supply. To such an extent has depletion proceeded that split rail fences and even roadside and hedgerow trees are now a considerable item in the fuel wood supply.
“This depletion is not attributable to any lessening of acreage as a general thing, but to the lack of foresight and care, principally due to the grazing of livestock which has served to prevent germination of seeds, killed off seedlings and injured standing timber. This is a point in which we display much apathy.
“The tendency today, largely due to these conditions, is to the use of coal and oil and this when accentuated will add considerably to Canada’s fuel problems.
“Experience in other places has shown that the rehabilitation of run down wood-lots will require fifteen to twenty years of the most expert care and only a meagre yield of one quarter (or at most one half) of the normal producing capacity can be realized in the interval. The wood-lot owner has, in the main, still to be educated in the proper method of wood-lot management, and as this can only be made effective after many years training there seems to be no prospect of marked improvement in fuel production from wood-lots in the near future: rather, I imagine, the reverse.”
Newsy Notes by Agricola. February 28, 1929.