Where to get wood for your WILDERNESS LIVING REMOTE or Country HOMESTEAD fires...


WHERE TO FIND YOUR WOOD SUPPLY for your homesteading needs...

The most convenient place to get wood is "on location". If you live on a wooded lot at least 10 acres in size you can select cut and maintain a healthy forest while still harvesting firewood. You will want to cut dead or fallen trees first. If dead or fallen trees are not available then you will want to choose trees that do not provide food to the local wildlife, such as; Ash, Maple, Aspen, Locus, Poplar, Ironwood, Elm, Sassafras, Pine, Birch among others. We recommend not cutting down trees that provide nuts or fruits to you or animals, unless the tree is damaged or diseased, as it is important to stop diseases from spreading and cutting becomes necessary. We try to avoid cutting Maple because we tap them in the spring which provides our family with enough syrup and sugar for our yearly needs.

Many remote homesteads are located on waterways, which conveniently bring wood to you in the way of drift wood. Particularly if you are on a rapid river, A SIGNIFICANT amount of wood may come to you....
 Breakup will bring whole trees down river as the ice grinds downstream.









or a large body of water such as the ocean or a bay.
 
If you are remote and plan to live there for many decades you may want to consider when you are young to get the dead timber from 5 to 8 miles away from your cabin and haul it in the winter on the snow. That way as you age you still have wood close to your dwelling when it is more difficult for you as you age. Many homesteaders do this backwards and end up having great difficulty in their senior years trying to get wood which is far away because all usable timber was used in prior years near the cabin site. Here is an example of deforestation of mature timber near a large homstead in AK.

The local lumber mill may have slat wood and scrap wood lumber ends available which usually can be taken for free or a nominal fee ($10-$30) per truck load which, of course, you usually have to load yourself. This is a real bargain though as a truckload is usually close to a rick and the wood is usually seasoned hardwoods such as; Oak, Maple, Walnut, and Cherry.
This wood would otherwise go to waste so this is a great way to recycle and save live trees you might otherwise needed to cut to meet your needs.

Talk to your local town or village maintenance or road commission to see about wood available after clean-up days or after storms. The city and county road commission generally have a local dumping site for wood that is removed and dumped at these times. It is also usually free for the taking with a permit from the city.





Throw away wooden pallets (usually hardwood) can sometimes be obtained for free to be cut up and used for firewood from local lawn & garden and equipment sales stores and dealerships. I don't recommend this option for those of you who plan to use the wood ash for other projects as it will contain nails from the burned pallets. You must also use caution not to cut into the nails with your chainsaw for obvious reasons.

Craigslist.com is a free website that offers a "free" category in which there can often be found folks who are offering for free, trees, brush or scrap lumber to be hauled away for use as firewood.

Local tree service companies may also be able to direct you to homeowners who want trees cut but can't afford to pay to have them removed, however private homeowners may desire that you be insured before cutting trees on their property.

The obvious place to look for wood is, of course, in the local newspaper. Wood is sold by the cord, rick, and truckload. A cord of wood when stacked measures a stack 4 ft wide - 4 ft tall - 8 ft long. A rick measures stacked 2 ft wide - 4 ft tall - 8 ft long. A truck load is a rick or less depending on the size of the truck. If you are receiving less than you are paying for and have a receipt you can call the local weights and measures office (the phone number can often be obtained off the local gas pump) and show them the stack you received and the receipt showing how much you purchased.

In rural areas you can expect to pay $30-$75/rick and $100-$180/cord. Soft wood and unseasoned or unsplit wood will be at the cheaper end with hardwood, seasoned and split wood at the higher end. Prices may also be higher in urban areas where wood may be less available. The benefit of buying wood this way is that it is often ready for use in the wood stove. Some folks who are selling the wood will also stack it for you as well.

To heat a 1000 sq ft home expect to use about 6 cords of wood per winter. A larger home 2000 sq ft should expect to use 6-10 cords of wood. If you choose to install a wood burning outdoor furnace expect to use considerably more wood - choosing the exact size for the sq ft of space you have to heat will help reduce wood use. Bigger is not necessarily better in this case. A outdoor wood furnace can use 8-15 cords per winter. The outdoor wood burning furnace is much safer and less messy but less efficient and versatile than the indoor wood burning stove.
Now, about those chainsaws.... 


CHAINSAWS & HOW TO USE THEM for homesteading needs...

Now if you are going GREEN then I want to take moment to mention that my wife and I as well as our boys have used "old fashioned" 2-person crosscut saws to cut firewood. This is not difficult if the saw is sharp and is both fun and invigorating as an activity for the two of you. If you start in the early fall it is not difficult to accumulate the necessary quantity needed for the winter.

CHAINSAW SELECTION:

Chainsaws are like cars, a good name brand is still your best bet since you will be using it alot! The cheaper brands now usually last only about 1 season of regular use. A good name brand saw should be able to be purchased used and have a good deal of life still in it. Look for brands such as McCulloch, Poulan, Homelite, these are light to medium duty saws, very economical and can get you by. They are also very popular and common making other saws easily available on the used market for parts and replacement. For heavy duty saws for everyday use or if you plan to cut wood to sell in addition to your own heating wood, you may want to look for brands such as; Husqvarna, Stihl or Solo.
If you decide you can not afford to buy a brand new saw and decide to look for a good used saw, here are a few helpful suggestions...

* Ask to hear the saw run AND see it cut 3 or 4 pieces of average sized firewood. (Some saws run well at an idle but are wore-out and stall or die when they are put into the wood because the compression is weak. A saw that does this either needs the fuel filter changed or is too used up to be of any good anymore).

* Check for wear on the nose (end of the bar) look for roundness, it should not have dips in it.

* Flip the saw upsidedown and look into the housing or casing where the chain goes in, the sprocket is there that drives the chain. The area should be clean (if the saw has been well-kept, and not full of caked sawdust etc) and the sprocket should not have medium or deep grooves where the chain runs. The grooves should be absent or light. It should not be seriously wore or grooved.

* The chain should be sharp to the touch, if it is not, it will need to be sharpened, if the cutting teeth have already been sharpened too many times the cutting teeth will be shorter than the guide teeth. If this is the case the chain will need to be replaced.

* Expect to pay 1/4 to 1/3 the cost of a new saw for a good used saw. You should also expect, and I recommend, to change the fuel line filter and the air filter, both very easy and will improve the performance of your saw immensely and keep it running well.

* For those of you with an alternative energy source such as solar or wind power, or if you have never used a chainsaw before... you may want to consider an electric chainsaw.

ELECTRIC CHAINSAWS

Electric chainsaws are for light to moderate use, is generally a secondary or back-up saw. These are a great way to learn to use a chainsaw as the come with safety features not usually found on economical gas powered chainsaws. They are not quite as powerful as a gas powered saw, but they get the job done. Both my wife and my sons learned how to use a chainsaw using an electric chainsaw first. It doesn't take long to gain the confidence you need to move on to bigger saws. Electric chainsaws are much lighter than their gas powered counterparts, they also shut off immediately when the trigger is released whereas the gas saw continues to idle after the release of the trigger and takes more time for the chain to stop moving. If you plan to purchase an electric chainsaw, you will be glad to know that they are reasonably priced even brand new, so I recommend buying the highest quality electric chainsaw you can afford. As I said earlier the electric chainsaw is an excellent choice for women, youth and small light framed men.

SAW MAINTENANCE

Proper maintenance of your saw is very important. With good maintenance your saw can last for years. You must keep it cleaned out of the accumulating sawdust and bar oil that collects near the sprocket. Be sure to grease the nose, fill your bar oil reservoir before each use, and remember to push the bar oil button to release oil onto the bar regularly during cutting. If you are using a gas saw, be sure to measure your oil and gas precisely to obtain the proper mixture...DO NOT guess! Make sure that you keep the mixed gas in your can clearly labeled as mixed gas, keep away from flame, and keep the gas free from debris such as sawdust, sand and dirt. Keep the nozzle of your gas can capped.Never cut all the way through the wood if it is laying on the ground, as your bar and chain will cut into the dirt which acts as a sandpaper on all of your parts ruining your saw. You should cut part way through then roll the log over to finish the cut or cut only logs that are on top of the pile to ensure against cutting into the dirt.

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