Collecting firewood from your own land is a rewarding and a money saving event. It is rewarding in the aspect that you are being more self-reliant in providing a way to heat your home and saving money in the process. We are lucky to live in an area where trees are plentiful. We cut hardwood from our land or sometimes our neighbors have fallen trees that they allow us to use as firewood. We do not use softwoods such as pine because it pops when it is burning also it has a quite bit of more sap in it that it builds up in the chimney. Also softwoods burn so much faster that we use so much more of it. Instead we use hardwoods such as oak, maple, hickory or pruned fruit tree limbs. My husband uses a chainsaw to cut the wood into lengths that can fit into our woodstoves and fireplace which for us is about 18 inches. We stack these cut pieces for at least six months but we have found a year is better. So in order to have aged firewood that is easy to start and produces efficient heat you have to plan well in advance.
When we need firewood we split the wood into pieces. When we were younger and poorer we use to split the wood by using an axe and a splitting maul which is good exercise. Now we use a log splitter which makes life a lot easier. We split this wood into several different sizes. Some pieces are thicker, we use these thicker pieces when the fire is roaring and we want the fire to last most of the night. We call these pieces “all nighters”. Other pieces are split into thinner pieces. We use these thinner pieces at the beginning when we start the fire by laying them on top of the kindling or when the fire needs a little boost to get going stronger.
|Splitting the Firewood|
We store the split wood under a roof shelter. In our experience split wood needs to have a roof over it to keep it from getting rain soaked. Rain soaked wood is almost impossible to start and if you do get it started it just sputters along and does not produce sufficient heat. If you do not have a roofed shelter you can also cover it with a plastic tarp. We have two roofed storage areas for our wood. The larger area is used to store the majority of the split wood but we have a smaller roofed structure near our back door where we store wood so that it can be easily accessed when needed, which is especially handy at night.
Besides the need for a roof shelter firewood needs to be stored off of the ground to keep it from rotting when it comes into contact with damp soil. We do this by using a shovel to even out the ground as much as possible and then laying recycled landscape timbers on top of the ground. We then store the split wood on top of these landscape timbers.
|Split wood stored in roof shelter sitting on landscape timbers near back door.|
An important aspect into starting the fire is to have a bunch of kindling on hand. Kindling is basically dry small pieces of wood. If you live around an area that has a lot of trees you are never short of kindling. I just gather the small fallen limbs and pieces of limbs that fall from the trees. Also needed is crumpled up newspaper to put under the kindling. Also it is very helpful to have a lighter fluid or a homemade fire starter made of candle wax and dryer lint to get the fire going quickly.