Took most of the morning off to go searching for a quantity of osage orange firewood. This wood has an almost mystical reputation among fire builders, since when dried and burned it emits more BTU’s than any other lumber type in North America. It may be just the fuel I need to get my brick oven up and running properly. A friend here in town told me his father had a stand of such trees (commonly known as hedgeapple trees) on his property out in hill and valley country about an hour east of town. Better still, he told me, his father had cut and stacked a number of fallen limbs a few years ago, and the wood had never been touched.
Sure enough when we got there we found a long row of osage trees that someone had once planted as a windbreak, running along the edge of one of his father’s hay fields. Beneath them were various piles of small logs, neatly stacked, waiting to be loaded. I couldn’t have been more excited if it was money (well, maybe money). We pulled the truck into the field and started hefting the logs into my friend’s pickup. We’d been loading maybe half an hour when out of the blue he said “I wonder when we’ll find our first rattlesnake?”
“Oh you can find timber rattlers all around this area,” he said. “They love old wood piles like this. Just don’t put your hand down in any holes.” I was wearing work gloves, though for some reason that didn’t make me feel much better. “Actually I wouldn’t worry,” he said, smiling. “My father hasn’t seen a timber rattler in years.” The smile ran off his face and he looked off into the distance, evidently disappointed. “Nothing out here but copperheads anymore.”
Oh good…I think. What was wrong with my Maytag again?