|Homestead of Igor Vateha in Slovakia|
A friend living in Slovakia (the country of my birth and childhood) recently sent us a video in which he processes firewood, using strictly hand tools. It demonstrates his personal twist to what was once traditional in many regions of Europe, but uncommon in North America.
Before you view the actual video, I feel compelled to insert a bit of a profile on the man himself:
Among the people I've come to know well enough to form a solid view of, Igor Vateha is one of the 'pearls'. Glaringly unassuming and humble, the somewhat 'realistic' of the Daniel Quinn fans would likely consider similarly-living individuals as 'leavers'. From what I observe, the majority of them, for the most part, dream and TALK about how good it would be to leave the 'takers' path… while -- within the context of possibilities available to him -- Igor simply does it.
Along with his wife Katka and three children, they maintain a small homestead where electricity or engine-driven gadgets are not needed. When he occasionally visits the nearest village he rides a horse. There isn't a day, he once told me, that he is without an ax in his hands.
What you see him demonstrate, he does on a daily basis. Before the winter sets in, their shed is supplied with 1m to 1.5m long dry logs (mostly dead trees to begin with) from which he prepares enough fuel for their two masonry stoves. The heater takes 50cm pieces and the cookstove 30cm. After years of experimenting with firewood processing variations, the method demonstrated in the video is what he has settled on.
To North Americans it may seem odd. One reason is that the considerations of how one man, with hand tools only, takes care of his family's firewood needs are several generations in the past. Before the age of chainsaws, the standard was a gasoline engine-powered circular saw for the bucking of logs into stove length billets. Before then horse-powered drag saws did the same. But suppose that one man has none of these aids. Yes, large round logs can be bucked up into stove-length pieces with a one-man crosscut or a frame/'swede' saw, and only then split by hand -- the way we do it in North America. Well, Igor has tried that too, but thinks that what he demonstrates is a less energy-expanding method. I think he has a point.
Now, a bit of food for thought: do you, dear folks, imagine that chainsaws will hum forever? I do not. As for Igor, he simply does what a man of his convictions does --- walks his unassuming talk…