Wil­bert Den­nie com­mit­ted to coal


For close to 35 years, Wil­bert Den­nie has been burn­ing coal to earn a liveli­hood. Den­nie, 60, is also a farmer. He grew up in the quiet com­mu­nity of Re­source in Manch­ester.

He ad­mits that burn­ing coal is a hard task, but ne­ces­sity is the mother of in­ven­tion.

“True mi neva have any other work,” he said, ex­plain­ing how he got into the busi­ness.

In ex­plain­ing the te­dious coal­burn­ing process, his son, Ju­nior Den­nie, who as­sists him oc­ca­sion­ally, said that the land is cleared first, then the wood is gath­ered and split into smaller pieces.

These pieces of wood are skill­fully packed atop each other in a pile, af­ter which grass is added, fol­lowed by dirt. The pile is then lit.

How long it takes for the wood to turn to coal de­pends on the size of the ‘coal skill’.

“If you’re go­ing to burn about 20 bags, it will take about one week, but if you’re go­ing to burn 100 bags, it would take 20 to 25 days,” said Ju­nior.

Sourc­ing wood is some­times dif­fi­cult as he has to search far and wide to find spe­cific types of wood, such as log­wood, dog­wood, and bul­let­wood.

“It’s hard to find buy­ers when you burn it. Right now, him have some, and him can’t get no buyer for it,” said Ju­nior.

A bag of coal usu­ally costs $700. How­ever, if it is sold in bulk, it’s $100 cheaper.

This job hasn’t been short of chal­lenges as some­times the Den­nies don’t reap the ben­e­fits of their ef­forts.

“Some­times he burns it and be­cause he doesn’t get to reach on time, most of it burn up. And if he was sup­posed to get 10 bags he’d only get three to four bags,” the younger Den­nie said.

How­ever, these chal­lenges have not dis­cour­aged the el­der Den­nie as

Wil­bert Den­nie

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