Woodstacking: The Game!

It’s that time of year again, when summer’s on the way out and we really need to start worrying about how in the world we’re going to stay warm over the winter. Hard to believe that this is the eighth time we’ve done this routine already. I remember first coming to Maine and hearing about how people use cord wood for heating their houses. I had a wood stove, and I wanted to give it a shot. I think we ordered four cords of wood, and I was just stunned when it all showed up. It took so long to stack it all! Or so it seemed at the time.

These days? We had two cord stacked in less than two hours.

Of course, there’s a lot of things I realize we were doing wrong back when we did it the first time. For one thing, we were going for free-standing wood stacks back then. I’ve since realized it’s much easier to just stack the wood in one big continuous stack that relies on an existing structure for support. The front porch, for example. Also, we didn’t use a wheelbarrow or anything to transport the wood from one spot to another. Plus, Denisa was pregnant that first time–and I didn’t have a helpful 10 and 6 year old to pitch in, too.

Then again, after stacking with the kids for a bit on Saturday morning, I began to wonder just how much help they were actually providing. There always seemed to be something in someone’s eye, or the need to take a break for a bit, or the sudden urge to go check the mailbox. Our method was much better than 7 years ago–we have a lawn cart that can move about 35 pieces of wood per load–but getting the pieces actually into or out of the cart was proving troublesome.

That’s when inspiration hit me. Mary Poppins can go on all she wants about spoonfuls of sugar and that tripe. In my experience, what really motivates me is a good old fashioned competition. Going on the assumption that my kids might fall for the same trap, I announced that we would see how many pieces of wood everyone could put in the cart each time. TRC and DC seemed interested in the challenge. The first time? DC did 4, TRC did 6, Denisa did 10, and I did 18.

I celebrated my victory. Loudly.

“That wasn’t fair!” TRC objected. “You were the closest to the cart. I could do more if I were closer.”

I shrugged and agreed to let him pick his spot next time.

We were done in under a half hour from then. TRC went from 6 or 7 pieces a trip to 16 or 17. DC was putting in 12 or 13 easily–sometimes more. They were excited and motivated. (Perhaps a bit too motivated. They started throwing wood, hitting each other in the process. When I announced that there would be penalties for injuries, some tears were shed, and accusations hurled both ways. We got over that.)

Anyway–just interesting to see how easy it was to transition from complaints about things being too hard to complaints about how I wasn’t letting them work as hard as they wanted to. My what a difference a mind shift can make.

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