Busy as a Bayman with two wood stoves
By Rob Hiscock
Some of my fondest memories of my childhood include my Father, brother and I hauling firewood with the 12 Elan over bog and barrens to our home in Winterton, Trinity Bay (NL). Dad bought his first sled, the 1979 Elan for the sole purpose of hauling wood but soon realized it would provide a lot more family pleasure than expected.
With three small kids and a yaffle of friends, the old Elan got little rest. Sunday afternoon runs included Dad and Mom on the sled and my older brother and sister, one either side of me on a “dog slide” or ski-boose sometimes borrowed from a neighbor. We would always find our way to some cut over for a boil up and other fun, but wood cutting or scouting for the next area to cut was always part of the excursion it seemed.
Over the years the Elan outgrew the need and it seemed as though Dad wanted to test the waters on just about any snow machine that was available and within his budget at the time. The partial list of machines I recall being tackled up to a set of bobsleds include a Massey Ferguson Ski-Whiz, Polaris Gemini, Evinrude Skimmer, Ski-Doo Olympic, Moto-ski Mirage, Ski-Doo Skandic, Yamaha Enticer and Bravo and I’m sure there are some I didn’t even get to see during the time I moved away from Winterton, climbing the corporate ladder.
While gone I always seemed to find a way and place to be able to see my way to have a chainsaw and a place to cut some wood. I was that Bayman who could be seen cutting dead falls on the side of the TCH, or clearing a corner of a commercial building lot on Kenmount road. Whenever the chance arose it seemed my instinct was to find a way to be able to cut firewood or saw logs.
Due to some personal family illness, in 2014 after nearly 20 years away I found myself and my own family moving back to Winterton and back to the same woods that I grew up in. Unfortunately, my Dad had passed a few years prior to my returning but his memory is still strong.
I couldn’t imagine living back around the Bay without having a wood stove and luckily enough, the house we bought was big enough to need two. So I quickly became the proverbial “Bayman with two wood stoves”.
While en route to my cutting area one morning in early 2018 I vividly remember thinking that of all the things I see on Social media, there doesn’t seem to be a local group for guys like me who love to spend time gathering firewood. I chuckled to myself thinking that I should create a Facebook group and invite a few of my friends and have some fun posting photos of our big loads or far too common mishaps for a laugh. Later that evening “Wood Cutting Boys” was born.
In the first few hours, I was amazed that there were a hundred or so members that joined the group, every time I put down my iPad, it would ding and let me know someone else was asking to join. The photos began appearing from people from different parts of the province, then from other provinces in Canada. Before long, there were requests from the US, Sweden, Norway, Ireland and Australia. Comments and personal messages were coming in thanking me for starting what some labelled the best group on Facebook. I was totally shocked and amazed at what was happening. By the end of the first full year the group had reached 2500 members from all walks of life. Today, we are still a couple months away from the two year anniversary and are closing in on 8500 members with over 95% of the membership active daily, according to Facebook stats.
The group has turned into a family of sorts, with a logo and merchandise available through a webstore and some selected retailers as well as a small showroom in my basement in Winterton (NL).
We have some very good suppliers on side and supporting the group with discounts offered to members who shop at their local stores, regular contests with amazing prizes provided by these suppliers and the daily forum on the page is informative and entertaining to say the least.
The group allows members to buy and sell related products and services, ask questions and compare performances of equipment as well as post photos of things like that new wood stove or that big juniper harvested today.
Wood Cutting Boys as a brand/group has become a major part of my life in the past two years, I’ve learned a whole lot I didn’t know, met some great people and started a small business all from what I thought was a bit of a joke.
Who knows where this will lead but for now I’m happy to ride it out In between my busy work and family life, I spend as much time as I can in the woods and if all goes well this winter, mother nature will give us enough snow for me to haul a few cords home on my 1989 long track Bravo and try out my new dog slide that’s sitting in the garage with fresh paint to scrape off on the protruding rocks left by the rain that always follows the snow here on the Avalon peninsula (Eastern Newfoundland).
Dad is smiling down I’m sure, on his son, The Wood Cutting Boy who’s as busy as a Bayman with two wood stoves….
Those of you looking to share your memories and stories about how you enjoy the woods and how you utilize a snowmobile to move your wood, we want you to share your stories…these memories will continue the tradition that many of us grew up with. Send a note to [email protected] and in the subject, simply say “Wood Cutting Boys”.