One of the most important ingredients in food is sugar. That’s why it is very important to know how to store sugar so that you can use it in a time of need.
My favorite way of drying herbs is to use nylon mesh hampers that have cloth handles. These were designed for college students, and they come in various colors. They are also collapsible for easy storage, so we have several of them and we usually dry four to five different herbs at a time.
We have installed hooks used to hang plants in the ceiling of our carport, and we loop the hamper handles over the hooks. Since we have a lot of wind in our area, looping the handles over a second time secures them from being blown off the hooks, and the herbs can dry in the shade of the carport.
The herbs need to be stirred up occasionally to separate them and make sure they are getting enough air, and it is easy to just hit the bottom of the hamper a couple of times as you go by. Some dry within just a couple of days.
If it is going to rain, it is best to take the hampers down and hang them indoors. Even though they are protected when they’re under the carport, it is still better to put them in a place away from the moisture while they are drying.
Drying Different Herbs
When I am drying herbs on stalks, I cut the whole stalk and put it in the hamper.
When I dry leafy herbs like comfrey, which are more compact, I leave the stems on the leaves and put just a small amount of leaves in each hamper. I stir these more often.
As you put the herbs in the hamper, you will get more of a feel for how many to put in as you see how much they compact. I usually don’t fill the hampers more than one-third full.
When the herbs are dry, just strip the leaves down off the stalks.
For comfrey or mullein leaves, wear gloves and crumble the leaf off the stems. You can use a coffee grinder if you want to powder some of the dried herbs.
Store the dried herbs in separate bags. When the herbs are in the bags, you can crumble them up some more. I prefer using the gallon-size plastic storage bags, but not the kind with sliders.
You can also store the dried herbs in jars.
Keep the stored herbs out of the light, in a pantry or other cool area.
This article by Sharon Devin was submitted for The Grow Network’s 2015 Writing Contest and was originally published on June 15, 2015. Thank you, Sharon!
Properly storing fuel for the Apocalypse!
Micheal Kline “Reality Check” Audio player below!
This week we are going to be talking about some of the common techniques for storing fuel. This topic has been covered before, but it bears repeating since tornado is starting and hurricane season isn’t that far off. In this show, we are going to be talking about some of the common fuels to store and the industry practices to prolong the life of such.
Garden tools perform some hard, dirty jobs for us. But by the end of the summer they often need maintenance or at least a good cleaning.
Before you hang up your tools for the winter, take some time to get them in tip-top shape. Following the steps below during the end of fall will mean a faster and easier start to next spring’s gardening season. It also will save money in the long run, since tools kept in good shape won’t rust and won’t need to be replaced as often.
1. Clean and dry
If any of your tools have dried soil caked, pull out a wire brush and give them a good scrubbing. If necessary, dunk or soak the tools in a bucket of warm water to loosen stubborn soil (soap isn’t necessary).
Tree-trimming tools — like pruning shears or clippers — should be wiped down. If there’s any sap on those tools, they will need a little extra work. Sometimes, a soak in hot water is all that’s needed to remove sap, but if it’s stubborn, you may need to use another product to get it off, like turpentine, WD-40, Pine-Sol, or a solvent that’s specifically for dissolving resin (check the chainsaw section at your local home improvement store).
Once all your tools are clean, spread them out in the sun to dry or give them a good rub down with a cloth.
2. Remove rust
Even if you take good care of your tools, rust happens. But a rusty tool doesn’t need to be tossed. Small spots of rust can be scrubbed off with steel wool or a wire brush. Heavily rusted tools are perfect candidates for the wire brush attachment on your drill. (Since this attachment often throws off small bits of wire, make sure to wear eye protection.)
3. Sand and sharpen
Sanding down wooden handles helps remove splinters and also smooths out the rough, raised grain that happens when wood gets wet.
Most metal garden tools — including pruning shears, clippers, shovels, spades, hoes, pitchforks and hand trowels — have some sort of blades. Keeping all these blades sharp will make your work easier. And, in the case of tools (like shears and clippers) that cut plants, a sharp cut is easier on the plant, too.
All you need to sharpen your garden tools is a mill file, which is a long, flat metal file. Use the existing bevel on the edge of the tool’s blade as a guide. Place one end of the file on the bevel and push the file, using light, even pressure, against the bevel and away from your body. After each stroke, move the file to the next spot. Once the blade is completely sharpened, use 300 grit sandpaper to remove any “burrs” (tiny shreds of metal) clinging to the blade.
Sanitizing isn’t necessary for extending the life of your tools, but it is one of the most important things that you can do for your garden. Sanitizing will rid your tools of fungi and pathogens so that you don’t transfer those to your plants in the spring. Mix one part bleach to 10 parts water in a bucket, and swish each tool through the water. Once sanitized, your tools will need to dry in the sun again or be wiped down with a towel.
5. Season with oil
Both the wooden and metal parts of your garden tools should be treated with oil. Although virtually any kind of oil will do (including WD-40 and motor oil), boiled linseed oil is the best choice for tools that come in contact with food-producing plants. (In a pinch, vegetable cooking oil is an effective and safe alternative.) Use an old cloth or towel to liberally spread oil over all metal and wooden parts of your tools, and let the tools sit for about 15 minutes before wiping them dry. Oiling helps prevent metal from rusting and wood from cracking, and it’s a great way to extend the life of your tools.
6. Store wisely
A dry environment is a must for overwintering your tools. And, if at all possible, hang your tools up. Tools that are stored resting on their blades (such as spades) or that are tossed onto a pile with other tools are more susceptible to damage.
Alternately, storing tools in a bucket of sand and vegetable oil can help prevent rust, keep tools clean, and even help keep tools sharp, since pushing them into the sand has an abrasive action on the blades. Mix about a half gallon of vegetable oil into five gallons of sand and shove in anything with a blade — from shovels and trowels to pruning shears.
Although I, for one, often feel “gardened out” by the time late fall rolls around, spending a few hours on an autumn afternoon cleaning and preparing garden tools for winter storage will be well worth it come spring.
Do you have any other tips for storing garden tools? If so, let us know in the comments below.
Psychological Preparedness and Shopping Tactics Host: Gary & GGsBoo “The Road Less Traveled” Welcome to this outing on “The Road Less Traveled.” On this excursion we’ll focus on some of the intricacies of Prepping from our perspectives with an emphasis on psychological preparedness being quite important to our overall efforts. Learning exactly who and what … Continue reading Psychological Preparedness and Shopping Tactics!
What Preppers Are Storing That Will Kill Them Cat Ellis “Herbal Prepper Live” Audio in player below! Could you be stockpiling something that will ultimately kill you after SHTF? Odds are, you have been storing this stuff for years. What is this potentially deadly and exceedingly common prepping item? If you guessed prepackaged food storage, … Continue reading What Preppers Are Storing That Will Kill Them!
If there a key to smaller home living, its finding enough storage space to keep things neat and uncluttered. When we decided to downsize to a floor plan of just over 1000 square feet at the farm, we knew we would
The post How To Find Unique Ways To Create Storage Space In A Small Home appeared first on Old World Garden Farms.
Preserve your medicinal herbs the right way! Cat Ellis “Herbal Prepper Live” Learn how to properly preserve your medicinal herbs on this week’s episode of Herbal Prepper Live. Just like food storage, your herbs can be preserved and stored for later use. But, if you don’t choose the right preservation method for the right herb … Continue reading Preserve your medicinal herbs the right way!
There’s many things that people miss when preparing for the unknown – be it a natural or man-made disaster. But one that always surprises me is when people forget to add a safe to their list.
Perhaps our oversight is due to thinking in the terms of major disasters, rather than personal ones. But even then, a safe has its place. If your home is destroyed by an earthquake or tornado, the items in your safe would probably survive. We can’t be so sure about the rest of your stockpile.
For you, a personal disaster can be as serious a problem as a regional or national one. Ignoring this fact could lead to unnecessary suffering for you and your family. Imagine, for example, that your home is lost to a fire. This likely will be as much a disaster for you as if a hurricane hits – perhaps even more so since a hurricane might just damage, not completely destroy your home.
Safes are rather robust structures, designed to be able to withstand a lot of abuse. In addition, most home safes are fireproof to a certain temperature or for a certain amount of time. So anything you store in a safe is likely to survive whatever happens, as long as you can still find the safe.
Home safes aren’t all that big, so you’re better off buying the largest one you can find. With a large part of the space taken up by the thickness of the walls, the interior is much smaller than the exterior. Once you start putting things in it, you’ll quickly discover how small it actually is.
So, what should you keep in your safe? While it would be nice to be able to put your entire prepping stockpile in there, that just isn’t going to happen. Instead, you’ll need to carefully select key items.
1. Important documents
Generally speaking, the most important thing to keep in your safe is the documentation that makes up the legal part of all of our lives. That documentation will be key part of being able to rebuild your life after many types of personal or community-wide disasters. In our modern world, if you don’t have the paperwork, it doesn’t matter if you own the item or not. Some documents you should store in your safe are:
- Home and property titles
- Vehicle titles
- Marriage license
- Birth certificates
- Copies of degrees and other awards
- Military discharge papers
- Insurance policies
More than anything, these documents are being stored in the safe to protect them from fire. If you have some other fireproof place in your home to save documents, you may want to move them there and keep the safe for other items.
2. Account numbers and access
Many people have multiple accounts in multiple places rather than just one bank account. If something happens to you, your family is going to need to know where those accounts are and how to get into them. A list of all account numbers that you have, along with access codes, bank names, and other key information needs to be in the safe.
Of course, for your family to be able to use this information, they’re going to need to be able to get into the safe. Make sure that they either have or can access the combination or are input into the biometric lock.
3. Contact information
With everyone using cell phones, nobody bothers memorizing phone numbers anymore. But in the wake of a crisis, it may be necessary to get in touch with a lot of key people in your life. What are you going to do if your phone is destroyed or lost in a crisis? Keeping a contact list in the safe ensures that you will always have this information, no matter what happens.
4. Computer backups
The best place to keep your computer back-ups is offsite somewhere. Many people keep theirs in the cloud now. But if you have to keep your data files onsite for some reason, the best place for them is in your safe. Copy the data on a removable hard drive and store it in the safe. That way, it’s protected from fire. Better yet, print it out.
This is especially important if you run a business out of your home. All your records are probably on your computer. Proper storage of your data is a critical part of maintaining your business.
It’s always a good idea to keep as much cash on-hand as possible. In the wake of a disaster when the power is out, the money you have in the bank is inaccessible. You will surely need money to buy things and make repairs to your home. Having cash allows you to start immediately, while everyone else is arguing with the bank to get access to their money.
6. Gold and silver
If you are investing in gold and silver – an excellent idea considering the state of the economy, in my opinion – then store it in your safe. That’s probably the safest place you can store it, and will ensure that your investment is available in a crisis scenario.
One nice thing about gold and silver in your safe is that even if dollars become worthless, these precious metals will likely retain their value. In fact, in such a situation their value might increase.
7. Handgun and ammo
Keeping a handgun in your safe spurs images of fighting off a robber that is forcing you to open up your safe. But that’s really not the reason that I’m recommending it. The main reason is to have at least one gun in your home, which is protected from damage. Ammunition and firearms can be damaged in a fire, leaving you suddenly unarmed and unable to protect yourself and what’s left of your home.
That one handgun in the safe will survive a fire or just about any other disaster. And you’ll have something you can use to protect yourself, your family and your belongings.
8. Survival kit
This one may sound a bit odd, as it is not considered an item of high value. But if you lose everything else, having a survival kit will give you the basics you need to get clean drinking water, start a fire and otherwise take care of yourself. This doesn’t need to be a huge kit, but make sure you at least have the basics. That way, you won’t have to scrounge around looking for them.
What would you add to this list? Share your tips in the section below:
Picture this unhappy scenario. You open up your carefully prepared and stored food at a time of need only to find it infested with bugs.
Nearly all dried foods – including grains, cereals, beans, nuts, powdered milk, dried fruits, cured meats and spices — are susceptible to an insect infestation. How can you prevent this problem from happening to your important long-term food investment? Some people freeze foods before storing them. But does that really work? The answer: yes!
Freezing does work, with some caveats.
Your first step is to realize that storage containers can make all the difference in eliminating insect infestations.
Flimsy paper or cardboard packaging is no match for hungry bugs, so it is important that you store your food in strong, airtight containers. Insects can also eat their way through foil, plastic bags and plastic lids.
For example, a study by The Benson Institute showed that insects found their way into #10 cans containing insect-free wheat by way of their plastic lids. Using several packaging barriers to protect your stored food is a good idea.
How long do you need to freeze your dry goods for bug control — and at what temperature? Geri Guidetti, founder of the Ark Institute and a leading authority on survival gardening, suggests that you freeze food for a minimum of three days.
Another Benson Institute study suggests that the temperature at the center of the food container must reach -9 degrees F (-23 C) for two to four hours for best results.
In his book “When Disaster Strikes,” Matthew Stein writes, “You can freeze containers of food to destroy living insects, but this will not usually kill their eggs. Refreeze the container after 30 days to destroy bugs that have hatched. Freeze in an upright or chest freezer for 72 hours at 0 degrees F or lower.”
Some researchers say freezing will not kill all insects. If you try the freezing method to prevent an infestation, it is a good idea to inspect your food for bugs on a regular basis. Early detection of a bug problem can prevent all your of food supply from sustaining insect damage.
Here are other options for ridding your dry food of bugs:
Food-grade diatomaceous earth (DE) can work as an effective natural pesticide. Use one cup of food grade DE for every 25 pounds of grain for long-term storage. Layer the DE throughout the grain for best results. An added bonus is that DE is highly absorbent, so it protects dry foods from moisture that might cause food to clump, grow moldy or germinate.
Dry ice also can kill bugs in your dry foods. “The Family Preparedness Handbook” by James Talmage Stevens suggests two techniques for this method.
For the “on-top method,” place a quarter-pound of dry ice on an insulating material (such as Kraft paper) on top of a nearly full five-gallon container. Press the lid down on top of the material firmly but gently to allow air to escape.
After a half hour or so, look for the dry ice to have evaporated completely. When the dry ice has completely evaporated, remove the insulating material and seal the container.
The “on-bottom” method is another option. Place a quarter pound of dry ice under the insulating material. Press the lid down so air can escape. After about 30 minutes, check to see if the dry ice has evaporated. When the dry ice has completely evaporated, remove insulating material and then seal the container.
How do you kill bugs for long-term food storage? Share your ideas in the section below:
Food Storage, another look!
Food storage is easy, storing food to get the most length of storage out of it and to keep it as safe as possible while not taking up the entire house with towers of cans can be a bit more work! However, since food is essential for life, it’s worth doing it right and taking a bit of time. Once you get used to doing it, it becomes habit.
My first and foremost rule to storing food for the longest shelf life and no pest issues is this: IF IT COMES IN A BOX OR PAPER BAG, REPACKAGE IT! There are many bugs that live on the glue in those packages. Pests of all kinds can get through regular store packaging and decimate you food preps. How do you repackage it to ensure long life and safety is a question I am often asked. Here is what I do after a normal shopping trip:
I arrive home with a great sale item, last week it was Betty Crocker Scalloped Potatoes on sale for $0.78 a box! I got 18 of them. Way too much for just putting on a shelf and hoping for the best. I got out my scissors, my vacuum sealer and bags. I opened the package, cut off the directions, put the bag of potatoes and sauce mix in the bag along with the directions. I partially vacuumed the bag (so as not to crush the taters) and then sealed it. After I had them all done, I took them to my pantry and tossed them in the bucket marked “flavored potatoes”. Done. (yes, I put a piece of tape with the date on it too)
I do this with pasta, beans, some sugars and rice. Simple, easy and effective. They should be good, safe and ready to go for 5 years.
Long Term Food Storage is basically the same, but I use lined 5 gallon buckets and oxygen absorbers. For instance, I got bags of whole wheat that I will use when my flour runs out. I got a mylar bag, and put it in the bucket, opened it up and added the wheat. I tossed in about 2000cc’s of oxygen absorbers. I then hand expressed as much air as possible.
I use my iron to seal the bag almost to the end. Then I fold up the bag and expressed the last bit of air and seal to the end. I put the lid on the bucket and mark the bucket with the contents and the date. I do this with white sugar, oats and cornmeal. Most of it will last for 20 years.
I can stack the food storage tubs, which are filled with meal size packages. I can also stack the buckets which are mostly filled with single bulk items. These are tucked away in all sorts of places. I am lucky to have a dry basement, but many people use spare bedrooms, home offices, closets or under the bed space. At times, I have used drapes over my tubs and used them as end tables. I know one person who pulled her couch out from the wall and stacked her tubs, put a cloth over them and calls it her “sofa table”.
Much of my food storage is normal, every day stuff that we eat daily or weekly. These are mostly canned goods. For those, I have a rotation system like a grocery store. I put the new items I purchase in the back and bring the rest forward. The expiration dates are already on them, but if you want, you can use a marker and put the date you bought it on the can. I have learned that most items are good well beyond the “best if used by” date. If you are uncomfortable with that, then buy the items with the farthest away “use by” date and make sure you keep rotating. (tip: look at the back of the shelf in the grocery. Sometimes they have different dates from what is in front). By storing what we eat and eating what we store, I rarely have a problem with anything going “out of date”.
Protect your food from freezing, moisture and air. If you can do this, it usually is protected from pests as well.
Re-posted with permission from APN
Co-ops and buying clubs
D.J. Cooper “Surviving Dystopia”
Last week we talked about pinching pennies and ways to save with projects aimed at reducing the costs of some of the things we need. Another way to save money and make those pennies last is to buy in bulk, Co-ops and buying clubs. If in the long run you can reduce the expenses of your household wouldn’t this be something you would choose to do?
Buying items in bulk can be a fantastic way to save a few pennies but we also need to remember these things must be stored. When buying in bulk a few things need some special care, for example; Perishible items. Taking care to establish safe methods of storage for such items is critical, so you can be sure you are saving those extra pennies.
There are a few ways to purchase in bulk:
- There are ways such as buying clubs; The big box bulk buying clubs like Sams or Costco. One thing with these is you must pay a membership fee and be aware that the prices may or may not be less. Another kind of buying club might be a social group buying in large quanitities together and splitting up into shares. You can create your own buying club easily with friends and family.
- There is what is known as as CSA or “Community Supported Agriculture”,with this you deal directly with the grower. Often times being a local farmer a definition of such might be; According to one I found called the “Barking Cat Farm” they discribe it as: “In essence, it is a mutually beneficial arrangement, where in exchange for your commitment to buy a share in our farm’s harvest, we commit to grow exceptionally high quality vegetables and herbs, and deliver a bountiful portion of it to you every week of the subscription term. Become a member of our CSA program and every week throughout the subscription term you will receive a share of fresh, naturally grown, in-season produce and herbs.” barkingcatfarm.com
- The Co-Op is another, this I am sometimes confused with as it can seem like a buying club, except when you buy your membership like a big box chain you kind of own into it… it also differes from smaller buysing clubs because often times they are simply buying wholesale and there is little connection to the place where the product originated.
This week I would like to explore some opportunities and ways we can make these things work for us and ways we can store all these extra goodies.
Listen to this broadcast or download “Co-ops and buying clubs” in player below!
Long-term food storage is a common-sense approach to ensuring that you and your family can survive a catastrophic event that significantly affects our food supply. But there’s more to it than just stacking cans in the attic. In fact, that may be the worst place to store any kind of food.
A lot can go wrong if you have food in storage for years and simply assume that everything will be okay when the day comes that you need to open those cans.
There are fundamentally six things you should consider with regards to any long-term food storage plan:
1. Consider nutrition.
There are some fundamental considerations you have to think about with regards to long-term food storage. The first is diversity. Storing 200 #10 cans of macaroni and 50 #10 cans of dry milk is not a nutritious solution. You have to think in terms of nutritional diversity. Many companies offer pre-packaged solutions for three months’ to one year’s worth of food. If you can’t afford a large package offering, look carefully at what they include so you can purchase a diversified collection of foods over a period of time.
You should also keep a running tally on what you have stored. You may think you have it all figured out, but you don’t want to find out the hard way that you have too much of one item and barely enough of something that may be more essential. A good way to make this assessment gets to the next point.
2. Eat what you store and store what you eat.
Failure to follow this simple suggestion may be the biggest fail for anyone stockpiling food supplies. While many products in hermetically sealed, #10 cans will survive for years and years, some in 5-gallon buckets aren’t as dependable. I opened a five-gallon bucket of sugar after six years and it was permeated with mildew.
You’ll also find great value in this practice of eating what you store. We’ve never bought a box of macaroni and cheese in the last 10 years when we figured out that a can of macaroni and a can of cheese powder was essentially the same ingredients.
Eating what you store also gives you experience with how to prepare these foods and combine them with available fresh ingredients to create a pattern of recipes you and your family will enjoy.
3. Watch out for heat.
The standard recommendation is to store your foods in a cool, dark place. That’s why an attic is a bad idea. Not only is it sometimes inaccessible on a regular basis, but the heat that can develop in an attic space will quickly compromise the shelf life of any stored food. A dedicated pantry is ideal and a basement is also an option. Darkness is not as critical as ambient temperature, because most long-term foods are hermetically sealed in cans, but direct sunlight at any time can raise temperatures.
4. Watch out for moisture, too.
If your basement is damp, that’s a problem. Even though cans are sealed to prevent moisture from affecting the contents, oxidation or rust from moisture can affect the integrity of any metallic item over time. Moisture can also permeate food even if it’s sealed. This was my experience with the five-gallon bucket of sugar. A bit of dampness in my basement was all it took to compromise the entire bucket.
You should also take your cans out of the cardboard boxes if you have purchased foods in bulk. The standard package is six #10 cans in a box. That’s great for shipping, but cardboard absorbs moisture and can continually compromise the cans inside. Get the cans out and do whatever you can to keep them free of moisture.
5. Use common sense when opening food.
When we eat what we store we have to remember that the minute a can is opened, it is subject to the standard shelf-life of any consumer packaged goods. Most #10 cans come with a plastic lid and you can even buy additional lids if you lose one, but resealing a can with a plastic lid doesn’t mean you can return it to the storage area for another five years. Once it’s opened, you need to consume it on a regular basis.
6. Rehydrate your food properly.
What allows most foods to have a long-term shelf life is dehydration. In order to prepare most of these foods, the addition of water or some form of liquid is required to rehydrate the foods. Failure to rehydrate properly is perhaps the greatest fail when it comes to the enjoyable consumption of long-term foods stores. We’ve prepared an article on this subject that gives you guideline for various rehydration methods and food types. (Recommended: The Right Way To Rehydrate Long-Term Storage Food.)
This gets back to the fundamental concept of eating what you store and storing what you eat. You’ll gain valuable experience with various types of stored foods that will ensure that you can prepare meals that not only sustain you nutritionally, but that you’ll actually enjoy.
What would you add to this list? Share your suggestions in the section below:
For people who have lived with wood heat for years, firewood is pretty much a no-brainer – just another part of living in the country. But people who have just moved to a home that relies on wood heat or just installed a wood stove might not find it so simple.
Here is a brief rundown on selecting, buying, splitting and storing firewood for the beginner – and in making sure you have more than enough for the season.
Types of Wood
When it comes to type of wood, there are four categories to keep in mind:
- Hard vs. soft
- Green vs. seasoned
Hardwoods and softwoods refer to the type of tree. Hardwoods like oak will burn longer and create a nice coal bed. Softwoods like pine will burn hotter and more quickly. An ideal woodpile should have a mix of these dense and soft woods. Softer woods tend to make good kindling and help to get the fire going before adding bigger piece of hardwood. Softer woods also are useful for getting a room heated more quickly, whereas hardwoods will maintain the heat and last throughout the night if maintained properly.
Softwoods also can be nice to have in the spring and fall when you only want to warm your house in the morning to take the chill off. Keep in mind that some softwoods like pine can have a lot of sap in the wood, even after seasoning. This can cause a creosote build-up to happen more quickly, so keep that in mind.
The terms green and seasoned refer to the age and status of the firewood. Green wood is newly processed firewood that still has a lot of water content. Naturally this water content is going to make the wood difficult to burn and also might cause gunk to gather in the chimney. It just isn’t efficient. Seasoned firewood is wood that has been split and stacked, then allowed to sit in storage to dry. Depending on the wood, you can season firewood well in about six months. But some people choose to gather a ton of firewood a year or two in advance to ensure they have plenty of nice, dry wood.
It’s best to get your firewood in the spring if it’s green so it has time to dry by late fall or winter, depending on your climate. Seasoned wood costs more money and is more difficult to find.
Buying vs. Gathering
When deciding whether to buy or gather your own firewood, you should consider a few things. If you live on some acreage with trees it can be tempting to want to play lumberjack. But take a moment to think about that. If you are brand new to woodlot management, you can do a lot of damage to your property if you haphazardly take trees without considering the long-term effects. Aside from that, say there are some damaged or already fallen trees you have your eyes on. That would be fine to take but you will need to learn how to safely use a chainsaw and should have someone else with you in case of an emergency. Even experienced chainsaw users can become complacent and end up hurting themselves. Learning to use a chainsaw is an important skill for anyone who lives in a rural area. Just be sure you educate yourself either from the help of a friend, a class, or online videos before cutting trees.
Cutting and gathering your own firewood is quite a laborious process, especially since you’ll still have to split and stack it at home. If that is something you’re interested in and you have the time to do it, by all means go for it. But keep in mind that your firewood pile may not be seasoned by the time you are done. If it’s your first year with wood heat, it would be a better idea to start gathering wood but also buy enough for the first winter.
If you’re in a rural area you can find ads for firewood in the local newspaper, online (like Craigslist) and through word-of-mouth. If your town is like mine, you might even see trucks loaded with wood and a sign with a phone number as an advertisement. For most people it’s easiest to just ask friends if they know a good source of firewood in the area.
When buying firewood be sure to ask whether the wood is seasoned. You also should inspect the wood yourself before paying. It’s a good idea to measure the stack of firewood before paying to be sure you get your money’s worth.
Cords vs. Truck Loads
The reason for measuring wood is to determine whether it’s a cord or not. A cord of firewood is roughly 8-feet x 4-feet x 4-feet. Typically, wood is sold by the cord, so it’s a good idea to get an idea of how much wood that actually is. Depending on your climate and your home, you may only need a cord. Whereas others may need three or more to be safe. It’s a good idea to ask local friends/acquaintances or the person you are buying wood from for an average amount of wood needed for your region’s winter.
Firewood also can be sold as a face cord which at face is 8-foot long and 4-foot tall but only as wide as the logs. A lot of private firewood sellers sell by the pickup truck load. This can be a bit tricky because you really won’t know how much you are getting until you get it unloaded and stacked. Depending on the truck, you can get about one-third to one-half of a cord in the bed based on how neatly is stacked and how high. A face cord is roughly a neatly stacked, full-size pickup truck bed load.
Splitting and Storing Firewood
Whether you cut your own wood or bought it, once you have logs you will need to split and stack the wood for storage. This is the most time intensive and tiring part of firewood and perhaps the one major reason why some people do away with wood heat. It is a great workout, however, and very rewarding once it’s all done.
You will need a nice open area for splitting firewood and it’s nice to have someone there to help with placing the logs in front of you or take turns splitting. You also will need a good quality splitting maul. The traditional, wooden-handled ones are nice but will tire you quickly so if you are buying a brand new one, you should probably go with a fiberglass handle.
You’ll also want a splitting block. This can be a stump or a very large log. Splitting on the ground is doable but a splitting block will make your job much quicker and much easier on your back. It’s going to take a bit before you get into the swing of using a splitting maul accurately and efficiently, so don’t become discouraged. It’s really helpful to watch a video on proper swinging technique.
Once you’re ready to go you can start splitting the rounds. If you bought firewood, be sure to measure them to ensure they will fit into your stove. Also, don’t go overboard with splitting. You don’t want a bunch of small pieces of firewood. It’s better to split a round into thirds or quarters and also leave some as halves for overnight burning. You can use an ax or hatchet for splitting the thirds or quarters into kindling.
After splitting the wood you can stack it for storage. There are a couple of different ways to stock wood, so just be sure you stack in a way that allows plenty of airflow.
Within six to eight months your stacked firewood will be ready to burn. For fire safety reasons, it is best to store your firewood well away from your house. You can keep a small stack by the house in a safe area and move a days’ worth or so into the house everyday if you have the space. Keeping kindling stacked by the stove is also a good idea to help it dry more quickly and help you get a fire started without hassle.
Wood heat is wonderful, and there really isn’t anything quite like a warm fire with the occasional crackle to relax by at the end of a long day.
What advice would you add on chopping and storing firewood? Share your tips in the section below: