"Wood making" is family event for Apps clan

Jerry Apps

Last Saturday was our annual “wood making” day at Roshara. We bring as many volunteers from the family who are available, sometimes the number reaches a dozen or so when kids and grandkids are there.

Aside from the hard work, there is a certain beauty about cutting and splitting wood.

But Alas, the grandkids had seen fit to be elsewhere this year. So it was back to the long-time reliables. My daughter, Sue and son-in-law, Paul worked on Saturday along with brother, Don who lent a helping hand. My son, Steve and daughter-in-law Natasha worked on Sunday.

A note on the weather. Saturday was a beautiful, sunny day. No wind and temperatures hanging in the high forties. Sunday was a miserable, cold, all day rain. But weather or not, wood making went on. Earlier I had spotted two trees that were close to the trail. One dead, and one nearly so.

With Paul on the chainsaw and Sue helping with the cant hook, by noon we had a pile of blocks ready for splitting. I was in charge of hauling, an easy task. I drove a four-wheel drive all-terrain vehicle with a dump box. When I was a kid we toted limbs and tree trunks to the farmstead from the oak woods with our trusty team of horses and a steel-wheeled wagon.

For years we split the blocks with a splitting maul, with Steve becoming an expert at doing it. But now, as we all are older, I purchased an electric log splitter that does the job twice as fast with a fourth of the effort.

The splitting continued on Sunday, in the rain (the splitter was in a shed). Sue on Saturday and Natasha on Sunday (in the rain) created a neat woodpile outside the woodshed, where it will dry until next summer when we will carry it into the woodshed.

With sore muscles all around, one more annual farm task is completed. Aside from the hard work, there is a certain beauty to the work (I never thought I would say that). The smell of freshly cut trees, and the artful pile of split blocks. Plus of course a great feeling of accomplishment.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: There is much more to making wood than cutting down a tree and splitting the blocks.

Jerry Apps, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of more than 35 books, many of them on rural history and country life. For further information about Jerry's writing and TV work go to