Looking for your good ideas too. Relatively new wood burner here, my previous experience in Kentucky and North Carolina counts as heating with wood in Alaska during September and October.
I am going to share what I have learned the hard way, but I am really hoping to learn from you.
1. Get at least a year ahead on the firewood stash. I can buy a cord of wood as standing timber from the the state for ten bucks. If I fell it in September, split in January and season it all summer I am good to go twelve months after felling. A cord of wood that really is 20% or less moisture content costs way more than 10 bucks on craigslist.
2. Tarps suck. God bless my loving wife for allowing me to build a wood shed.
3. Wood really does split very easily at 40 below. What isn't usually included in that observation is the fact you have to be outdoors in 40 below weather to take advantage of the property. I am willing to work a little harder at -10 to -20 because I can stand to be out in it quite a bit longer.
4. Now that I am a year ahead, I plan to stay a year ahead. Splitting at -20 is way easier than splitting at +60. All I have to do in the summer is get my logs and rounds in. Since I am a year ahead I can wait and split the rounds when it's easy in the wintertime.
5. Spend the $30 on a moisture meter if you are going to buy "seasoned" wood from some random dude on craigslist.
6. My jury is still out on "striping", but it looks like a winner. What I have been doing with branches under 4" in diameter is cutting a "stripe" through the bark with the tip of my chainsaw while the branch is still on the tree. Once it is striped, then I cut it into stove lengths, throw it on the wood pile without splitting it and it looks like I won't have to split those little guys to have them ready for next winter.
7. Poplar, handy in the shoulder seasons for taking the chill off the room, but it makes a lot of ash. They don't call it "gopher wood" for nothing, as in stick a log in the stove and "gopher" another one. Also very plentiful in the public use cutting areas, usually close to the road too. I like having maybe 20-25% of my wood pile for next winter as poplar, I use it both in shoulder seasons, and also to keep a good bed of coals in the stove if the house is too hot to load the stove up with birch again just yet.
I do have some questions.
How long is spruce "good" once it is split? I have some spruce split in March 2013 that I am burning now in January 2014. According to my moisture meter it is sitting at 14-16%MC, it smells vaguely of turpentine and it is burning great. Will it be any good next winter, or do I need to make a point to burn it all this winter?
Whats a really good way to tell if a standing birch is worth felling? I look for lots of the green moss that looks like a beard, one or maybe two lumps of conch-fungus tops, and listen carefully while whacking the living snot out of the standing tree with a baseball bat. If it passes all three tests I got about a 75% chance of felling a birch with good solid heartwood, but I still get rotted out heartwood a quarter of the time.
More to come, I have learned a bit about stacking this year but I don't have pictures ready to post.
Please chip in. I am experienced enough to realize I am not expert.