The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Ken Graham
The Times 


Firewood, Football and The Fair


September 7, 2017

It’s Fair time in Columbia County. Kids and adults throughout the Touchet Valley will come to Dayton to celebrate a tradition more than a century old. This year’s Columbia County Fair starts Friday and runs through Sunday.

Fairs are an American tradition of course, held in nearly every county in the country. They celebrate the deep agricultural and pioneering history of our forefathers.

But fairs were held long before the founding of our country. Roman provinces held fairs that were holidays for all of their citizens.

A special thank you goes out to all the volunteers who have spent dozens of hours preparing booths, planning livestock events and all of the other work that goes into putting on a successful Columbia County Fair.


Football season is officially underway. Dayton-Waitsburg’s Valley-Football team struggled Friday night against an experienced Mac-Hi squad, losing 49-6. All of the DW starters are new this year, but they have talent. As the year progresses, I have no doubt they’ll become a very competitive team. They go on the road for two weeks, but will play at home in Dayton on Sept. 22 against a tough Tri-Cities Prep team. Don’t miss it.


And now Firewood. Humans have been heating their homes with wood ever since the invention of homes. A wedge to split firewood was probably one of the first tools ever invented.

Last week, I bought a modern version of that old wedge – a power log splitter. Shoulda done it years ago.

Mine looks small compared to a lot of them. It’s hydraulics are powered by an electric motor. I was worried that it would be too wimpy to do the job, but it works like a dream. I split two cords of wood over the weekend (in near 100-degree heat!) and never broke a sweat. (Yes, it might struggle with hardwood full of knots, but that’s not what I have.)

If you live in even a medium-sized city – say, Spokane – you can’t heat your home with wood a lot of the time, because of air quality restrictions. Those restrictions are important, of course, because if everyone burned all the time, breathing the air in Spokane on bad days would be like sticking your face in a chimney.

One of the (many) great things about living here in the Touchet Valley is that there are few enough of us that we can each contribute a bit of air pollution without wrecking our air quality.

I drive a diesel Volkswagen that belches smoke when I start it cold. I’m very sure it would never pass an emissions test in Spokane or Seattle, but here it doesn’t have to.

We heat our home with wood, too. (OK, partially. We also have a furnace; we’re not masochists.) There’s something about having a hot stove with a fire in it in the middle of your house that makes the heat better.

The downside of course is that you have to get the wood. You can’t pipe it in, and you can’t bring it in over a transmission line. It grows in the mountains, and then you have cut it and split it and haul it … and unload it and stack it, and let it age … and then haul it in the house and load the stove and light it. Which means you have to have kindling and old newspaper (which I have lots of).

It makes flipping the switch on the furnace seem like kind of a bargain.

On the bright side, it gives me an excuse to buy new tools.


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