Monday, December 24, 2012
Merry Christmas and the Honey Locust Revisited
You might be wondering why I put a picture of such a nasty looking thorny tree on my Christmas Eve post. Well the truth is that I always think of this particular tree type come Christmas time because as far as I am concerned the Honey Locust is a Winter time blessing. The Bees particularly love this tree in the Spring. I wrote about it last Spring as a matter of fact because when the blooms hit a mature Honey Locust will be covered in buzzing bees even though the tree is not noted as a particular honey flow tree Nationally. I believe that is only because the Honey Locust isn't as prevalent in other areas as it is here.
I believe I also mentioned briefly that this tree when dead and properly cured is also my favorite tree to harvest for firewood. Let me tell you if a Honey Locust dies it is usually a good sized tree. Not a huge behemoth like an oak but just about the perfect trunk diameter for a normal 18" saw to handle and branches that are almost perfectly sized for wood furnace burning without splitting. The wood is dense and burns for an extremely long time and rates within the top BTU per weight producing trees even above oak although not up to Osage Orange yet. Still pound per pound the Honey Locust rates only a BTU or two short of the Osage Orange AND is multiple times more available (For me) and much more wood per tree.
However.... There is a trick to burning this tree.....
The first thing to remember is completely avoid cutting this type of tree unless it has been standing dead a few years. The wood is extremely rot resistance and the dead tree can lay on the ground for decades with no real rot forming or taking a toll on the actual wood. The thorns on the other hand are another matter. Within a year or two of death the bark will begin falling off the tree in sheets taking the now brittle and not nearly so dangerous thorns with it. At this point, usually after about two years of standing dead the tree is in the perfect stage for cutting, however I have cut up standing dead Honey Locust that have been curing for decades and they burn just as well.
When the thorns are brittle and the bark comes off easily you can cut up and load this wood with almost no thorns making their way into your wood pile, truck bed or being particularly hazardous to tires or feet.
Once you have a good stack of Honey Locust next to your wood furnace and begin burning it you will be a complete convert and learn to love this tree as much as I. A small diameter log will burn literally for hours at a time. Through freezing rain, snow, or frigid cold wind making that many less trips to the furnace is always welcomed. It also eliminates early morning wake up calls to feed the furnace before it goes out, all the time producing the most wonderful warmth imaginable.
Whenever I am out in the woods I take a mental note of each and every Honey Locust ready to be harvested and plan my cutting for having a couple of loads of this wood ready for the months of January and February particularly. Christmas time is usually my first good burn of Honey Locust which is why I always think of this tree around now. Sure enough just like clockwork it got cold this morning and I began burning my Honey Locust.
Gave me a warm feeling all day.
Merry Christmas Everyone and....