Here it is, 5a.m. and I’m up again. Now, normally, this is my “get up” time, but today, it’s my “stay up” time. Along with insight on the work involved in heating your home with wood, I thought I’d share another thing you may not realize about living life on a farm: the perils and PITAs (pain in the arses) of wild animals.
We spent a long day yesterday chopping, splitting and stacking wood to build up our heating supply for the coming winters (chopped wood can take as long as 1 to 2 years to dry enough to burn). 6 hours in all, which was pretty good considering all that we did. We took down six or eight trees, ranging in diameter from 4 inches to 8 inches or so. None of them were super tall, so we only had to get the ladder out for one tree. One thing you should know about heating your home with wood is that there is a lot of work involved for what seems like a little benefit. But before I get to that, I’d better finish the story about the wild animals.
SO, after six hours of chopping wood, we made a quick run to the grocery store for some snacks, watched a bit of TV, and then hit the sack, exhausted after a hard day’s work, but grateful for more wood in the wood shed. At 1 a.m. we awoke to the sound of wolves howling nearby.
Now, being woken by this sound at 1 a.m. will scare the crap out of you, let me tell ya. With our two horses in the paddock and a few dozen horses next door, we got scared real quick at the sound of wolves, who find prey animals such as horses a fine cuisine delight. Once we turned the outside lights on the howling ceased, and a quick search by Rick of our area and the 80 vacant acres across the street (12 gauge and a commercial flashlight in hand) turned up nothing, thank goodness, but by then I was wound up. My husband, being a man, simply shut the window to drown out anymore howling and went back to sleep, but as I lay awake freaking out, I heard more noise outside. Oldest daughter did too, and she met me in the hallway for a quick search again of the yard. There, sitting on our back step, was a giant raccoon, sniffing at our shoes (we keep the barn/yardwork shoes outside: stinky!). When he saw me open the window he ran off quickly, and was long gone before I would’ve had the chance to grab a gun or wake Rick. But suffice to say, there was no going back to sleep for me at this point, so I got all of my week’s freelancing done and am feeling ready to hit the sack again soon, finally.
But first, onto our story.
If you choose to heat your home with wood in your homesteading journey, you need to know a few things.
First: Safety is paramount. Tree parts can fall quickly in directions you didn’t think they’d go, they’re heavy and have the potential to produce back and other injuries when not handled carefully, and branches can snap back when cut improperly, resulting in potentially serious injury or death. Not to mention the dangers associated with chainsaws and log splitters.
If you choose to cut your own wood for burning in your wood stove, please research and educate yourself thoroughly on proper safety techniques involved in chopping down trees.
Safety gear is also of the utmost importance, starting with eyewear and head protection, like Rick is wearing here:
Second: know that providing and preparing your own wood for heating is a heck of a lot of work. Luckily, since I’ve been eating healthy and exercising regularly over the last two weeks, my energy and strength levels have doubled, making me more prepared for the job we did today. Also, we’ve got a good 3-4 acres of thick woods on our land, so that helps as far as availability goes.
All six of us worked our tails off, and after 6 hours, we hauled away three trailers full of leaves and brush to the back woods:
This is one of the smaller loads. Which reminds me of another lesson we learned: gathering wood for heating will be easier if you do it in the spring before the trees bud, or in the fall after the leaves have fallen. Collecting wood in the middle of summer only leads to more work due to the heavy leaf loads.
All said and done, after 4 hours of hard work, we ended up with this:
These two piles (see the pile of little logs up top) will probably give us three days or so of heat – maybe less. So, after 4 hours of chopping and cleanup, and another 2 hours of splitting and stacking, we have heat for 2-3 days. Before you buy that homestead, make sure you’re prepared for the amount of work that goes into heating your home. Another thing you should know? That trailer full or pile of wood you see is bigger than it looks. Every time we thought Rick surely had to be done splitting, it looked like the pile in the trailer had hardly diminished at all. Why do log piles seem to be so endless when you’re making them, yet so small when you’re burning them? 🙂
In spite of all the work, I know we’ll be glad we did it when winter comes ’round and we can have a warm and comfy house without paying through the nose for propane or electric heat.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this issue of The Truth About Homesteading. If you haven’t read the first issue, you can find it here. Have an awesome Sunday, my friends!