I think I could be a lumberjack

If I thought I could make it work, I’d cut and sell firewood for a living. It would be good, hard, honest work, and I’d get to spend a lot of time outside. But I’m pretty sure I’d end up broke – and maybe also broken.

Last week I told you my wife and I decided to go gather our own firewood this year, instead of buying it. I also said I didn’t think the people who sell that firewood charge enough for it, based on the amount of work it takes. But I’ve been giving it a lot more thought than I probably should, and I started wondering if I could make a living at it.

I’m not afraid of hard work. In fact, I prefer it. I love doing things that leave me dog-tired at the end of the day. It’s one of the reasons I love elk hunting. I also enjoy work where you get to see the results of your work. Cutting our own firewood a couple weekends ago fit both of those categories. I slept like a baby that night, and the stack of wood we made was immensely gratifying after all that effort.

The trick is finding out how to make a profit at it. Not even considering the permit we’d need to be able to sell the wood, if you counted all the hours the four of us put into cutting, splitting and stacking it, and add all the time we took to go and get it and get it home, then consider the time it would take to deliver it to a paying client, it would probably work out to about $4 an hour.

But we only got one cord. If we were doing it for sale, we’d get more cords per trip. Of course, that would mean I’d need to trade the gas truck in for a diesel, buy a heavy-duty flatbed trailer, and also get some new timbering tools, like a couple of bigger chainsaws and a wood splitter. It would take some time to pay off all that overhead, and we’d have to get a lot faster at cutting the wood. We might be able to push our hourly income as high as 6 or 7 bucks.

Maybe I’ll stick to the day job. It doesn’t let me go to the forest, but it’s a steady paycheck, and I’m a lot less likely to cut my leg off. But a guy can dream, can’t he?

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