Robert Brooks has burnt wood to heat his home in Mt. William for 13 years now, but has never had such a hard time getting a load of full-length wood as he has this year.
Ordinarily he gets it in April so it’s good and dry. This year he called one person and was told there were 200 people on the list ahead of him. Another person told him he’d gotten out of the business. Finally he was able to get a load from a person, because he knew the guy.
“Everybody I talk to is trying to get firewood,” Brooks said.
He said it’s a real problem because the stuff people will be getting now is green and to burn properly, wood should dry for a year.
“I’m a brick layer by trade,” he said. “You take how many people are going to have a creosote build-up in their chimneys.”
What frustrates Brooks is the fact that there’s so much hardwood now being chipped for biomass or used at pulps. What’s even more frustrating is seeing pulp mills getting permission to cut on Crown land for free, he said, when local contractors don’t seem to be able to get firewood.
Eric Williams, a co-owner of Williams Brothers, acknowledges the high demand.
“There’s more and more orders come in every year because some people are getting out of the supply side,” he said.
For contractors it’s hard to get properties to cut firewood on and more wood is going to biomass and for pulp than in the past, he said.
“If we took an order today we couldn’t guarantee anything till August and it’d be green,” he said.
There seems to be less of a shortage when it comes to wood that’s already been cut and split.
“We’ve got all kinds of wood,” said Dougie Dobin, who sells firewood for Langille Brothers in Pictou County. He said they actually have more firewood this year than they did last year.
He said they only sell the wood that’s already cut and split. He’s noticed more and more people are using wood to heat their homes.
While a lot of people do it because they like the wood heat, a lot of others burn it because it’s cheaper than other heat sources.
“There’s nothing as cheap as burning wood. I’m hauling to people who put the heat pumps in.”
Last year was a particularly busy year for the business with the long cold winter.
“We can’t produce much more than what we’re doing.”
He said they are now selling for $225 a cord. Williams said depending on distance, they sell their eight-cord uncut loads for about $960.
• A cord is a measurement of 4 feet by 4 feet by 8 feet or 128 cubic feet
• Prices are averaging around $225 for cut and split wood this year.
• Wood takes from 6 months to a year after being cut to season properly
• Split wood typically burns better than unsplit wood.