Flowing Towards Abundance


The wood comes from another neighbor’s multi-acre eucalyptus grove. Some of the trees are huge—three or more feet in diameter, a hundred feet tall. The landowner, Lyn, can pull out seven or eight properly chosen big trees each year and still replace all that biomass in the next year’s growth. It strikes me as a sustainable yield. Several neighbors rely on her for their winter wood; the lot pumps out a good fifteen cords a year, and in our mild climate, you can heat a 2000-square-foot house using only wood by burning about a cord and a half.

The point of my little tale is this: My neighbor with the giant woodpile is thinking that the most secure source of wood is the store of it in his yard. But—to put it in systems language—that’s focusing on stocks over flows. We tend to do that in this culture. However, the real wood source is the woodlot in Lyn’s yard: the standing, growing trees, getting bigger each year, healthy and enlarging rather than rotting and getting punky on the ground.

Sure, it’s a good idea to keep two years of firewood on hard, which would be about three or four cords. But twenty cords? That’s a ten or fifteen year supply here. It’s a mammoth task to split and stack it all (only a fifth or so has been split in the last year, and who can blame them?); it should be covered or it will start to rot, and that’s a huge area to cover; and even with the best of care, by year five it will be breaking down and thus won’t heat as well.