One Spirit Wood Program is Heating Up
by Bamm Brewer
It gets cool in the evenings and mornings and that coolness is a reminder of what lies ahead in Lakota Country. On the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation the One Spirit wood cutting crews are starting with wood cutting for those elders and families with wood stoves. The wood is out there and it is a great source of heat in the extreme South Dakota winter. Many of our elders use wood stoves for heat; it is their only source of heat. The winter is very cold, however we have some time to get ready.
The days are hot but the evenings are cooler as we cleaned up the chain saws and checked all of our gear. We gassed up and hooked up the wood hauling trailer. The area we are cutting had a big fire last year and there is a lot of wood out there perfectly cured out and dry. Our One Spirit crew has been cutting off and on for a week but the hot temperatures were creating some difficulties. The extreme heat here makes you want to head for the nearest swimming hole. In a way everyone was still in summer mode, however it is time to get ready for old man winter.
The chain saws fired right up but we discovered the chains were dull, so we got out our files and sharpened up everything. The wood is heavy, we cut two loads, and it kind of breaks you in the first day. The smell of the great outdoors and wood cutting is a neat memory as I have done this about all my life. It was good to be back in the woods. The cold would be tough on our elders and if we don’t build up our wood supply there will be some cold nights ahead for them. As we cut the wood into small stove size pieces I remembered about five years ago, the blizzard that hit us with three foot of snow. There was no getting out in the woods after that. If you ran out of wood you might as well start burning your furniture. It was deep and it was also a big lesson to get the wood ahead of time when there is no snow on the ground.
That is why it is so important for us to cut right now. We are in a cool down time of the year and after the snow flies it could be difficult getting to the wood cutting areas. Our difficulties have come with just keeping a crew out there. What we need is a full time crew out cutting every day but it’s difficult to keep them paid. Keeping the crew fueled up is the main problem, a task that is easily fixed with some gas funds. Sometimes we are ready to go out but no gas or oil. The wood is out there and our goal is to get as much as we can for this winter, or it could mean a cold night for an elder.
Sometimes we get an "open" winter where we can go out to the timber most of the winter. It is best not to count on it and be ready for the worst. The fact remains that our wood program is looking better than ever with the new saw and splitter sponsored by Tad and Linda King and also the big Chevy truck we are set to cut wood. Our main goal now is keeping our crew fueled up and out there cutting.
Thank You sponsors for keeping our wood program operational. We are looking forward to keeping our elders supplied with wood.
$150 provides enough wood to keep an elder warm for three weeks in really cold weather and helps the men earn money for their families.