The quality and species of firewood matters to me, because my Pennsylvania log cabin has a stone groundfloor. The two-foot-thick walls keep it nicely insulated, but also tend to make it chilly as a well in cold weather, so I pretty much have to keep a log fire going from October to April.
Softwoods, like pine, burn too fast and release too much creosote, drastically upping your likelihood of chimney fires. Insufficiently aged wood, or wood cut live, is heavy to lift and hard to get to burn. You rapidly run through your tinder, starting and re-starting the fire as the moist log smokes at you.
They used to sell wood by the cord –4′ by 8′ by 4′, but nobody really measures in cords today. We buy now by the pickup load.
Jeremy Clarke, in the British Spectator, buys wood in France by the stère, and talks hunting (Outline gets around the paywall):
The other day we ordered a stère from a woodman recommended by an expat English friend. He dumped his load at the foot of the path and climbed up to the house for payment and a drink; €70 a stère is the norm. He wanted €90 and a whisky, ice, no water. I made him a belter and passed it over along with the cash. Would he like to sit? He consented to perch on the arm of the sofa. Our elderly bitch, deeply asleep on the sofa, was woken nostril first by the combination of rare and unusual scents emanating from this thick-set man in his mid-fifties.
He managed his heavy-bottomed whisky glass with an exaggerated delicacy that looked a bit like parody. But his expectant conviviality suggested a previous acquaintance with the expat English bourgeoisie, who, for all their faults and absurdities, offer strong spirits at 10 o’clock in the morning and defer obsequiously to the opinions of a man of the woods and forests. Then Catriona came in and sat and accepted a whisky also.
The woodman had noted with approval the stuffed boar’s head wearing Ray-Bans fixed above the side door. This moved the conversation in the direction of boars and boar-hunting and it turned out that we were entertaining the president of a local boar hunt. He owns 19 hunting dogs, a small arsenal of rifles and shotguns, and only yesterday had organized an 80-gun shoot followed by a wood-cutting session and piss-up. Another whisky, young man, we said? The empty glass was smartly presented while our old dog fastened her nose to his trousers.
Catriona interrogated him about his sex life. He was currently living with a much younger woman, an obstreperous vegetarian, he said. Then, suspiciously: we weren’t ecologists, were we? (An ecologist in his book was a shorthand term of abuse for an animal rights supporter.) I put it on record that I was not an ecologist and in fact had taken part in a boar hunt in which the chef had one leg shorter than the other and three dogs were gravely injured by boars’ tusks during the course of the day. Ah, said the woodman. His dogs were fitted with Kevlar jackets. Expensive but he no longer spends half the time sewing up his injured dogs.