Let’s face it; prepping can be expensive; especially for those who are living from paycheck to paycheck, like many of us are. Just trying to buy extra groceries to stockpile stretches many families’ budgets, let alone everything else we need. So when you can find a deal on your prepping supplies, it’s usually worth it. When you can find them for free, that’s even better.
One of the many things we all need to stockpile, but few of us ever talk about, is firewood. Most preppers are planning on using wood to cook and heat their homes when things go to pot. But few have ever taken the time to figure out just how much wood they’re going to need or where that wood is going to come from.
I’ve talked to a few people who actually heat their homes with wood and it was a real eye opener. On the average, these families burn up four to six cords of firewood each winter, and that’s using good quality hardwood. If they were using pine, which burns quicker, they’d need twice as much.
Unless you happen to have your own patch of woods to get your firewood from, four to six cords is going to require quite an investment… at least, if you buy it normally. But there are ways in which you can get that wood, for an investment of nothing more than a little time.
The trick here is to find wood that needs to be cut anyway, and cut it. Let’s look at some ideas:
Cut up Fallen Limbs After a Storm
Any major storm is pretty much guaranteed to knock down some tree limbs, especially if there are a lot of old trees in your area. So grab your pickup truck and chain saw and make the rounds, looking for homes where these limbs are fallen. Offer to cut them up and haul them off for free. Most people will jump at that opportunity. Otherwise, they’d have to pay someone to do it for them.
Don’t just limit yourself to tree limbs that fell in someone’s yard either. It’s not uncommon for tree limbs to fall into the streets, blocking traffic. This not only gives you the opportunity to get some more firewood, but to look like the neighborhood good guy while you’re at it.
Keep Your Eyes Open for Dead Trees
This is basically the same idea as the first one, without having to wait for a storm. Just keep your eyes open, as you drive around town. You’re bound to see dead trees every once in a while. So, like those broken branches, offer to cut them down. I’ve had to cut down several dead trees since I bought my home, and those are now the bulk of my firewood stockpile.
City Tree Trimming
Your city parks and other public spaces probably have trees on them which need to be trimmed from time to time. This gives another opportunity to cut trees, making you look like a public-minded citizen at the same time. Just be sure to get a clear agreement on what is to be cut and how it is to be cut, so they don’t complain to you afterwards.
New housing developments and shopping centers under construction share something in common. The contractors have to clear the land, before they can start building. This can offer an opportunity to not only fill up your wood pile, but all your prepping friends as well. Depending on where you live and how many trees there are, your problem might not be trying to find enough firewood, but finding enough people to help you cut and haul it.
The other thing you can expect to find at construction sites is scrap lumber, especially remodeling projects where they have to do demolition. The only problem here is that the wood is going to be pine, rather than hardwood. But hey, burning pine is still better than burning the phone book.
Digging Through the Trash
Well, I’m really not talking about digging through the trash here; rather, the idea is watching for piles of branches that people haul out to the curb for the trash man to take away. In that case, they’ve already done you the favor of cutting them down. All you need to do is haul them off and cut them up. Nobody is going to mind you grabbing those branches and making use of them.
Your city may have a composting center, where the tree limbs that are collected by the trash man are taken, chipped and turned into mulch. They are then allowed to decompose, turning them into compost. But you may be able to circumvent this process, getting them to let you pick through the limbs that are brought in and cut up what you want to haul off.
Companies all over the place receive palletized goods. In most cases, those pallets are wood, often oak. While the companies generally keep a few pallets around for their use, they typically have to pay someone to haul them off.
Companies that haul off pallets generally then turn around and sell them. But there are always some pallets that are too badly damaged to sell. The deal is that they have to take all the pallets, or they don’t get any of them. So they end up with a big pile of broken up pallets that they then have to dispose of. Those pallets are perfect for your needs, as you don’t care about their condition. You’re going to cut them up anyway.
Of course, you could just bypass the middle man and go directly to companies yourself, making a deal with them that you’ll haul off all their used pallets for free. This is especially easy to do, I fyou know anyone who owns a company and receives palletized goods.
Storing Your Firewood Stockpile
Getting your firewood is only the first part of the job, you’re also going to need to split at least some of it, stack it and store it. It is in this last step that people commonly make a mistake. That mistake is to not protect their woodpile. You need to protect it from termites and from the rain.
Protecting it from termites, if you have termites in your area, means keeping the wood up off the ground, rather than just building a wood pile on the ground. I live in an area that has this problem, so I keep all my wood in racks. Some of those racks have cinder blocks for the base, but most use pressure-treated wood. Since termites don’t eat pressure-treated wood, that protects the wood in the rack.
Rain will keep your wood wet, preventing it from being usable and promoting decomposition of it. In olden times, people either kept their wood piles in a shed, to protect it from the rain, or they built their homes with wide overhanging eaves, so that they could pile the wood up right against the home. Either way, the wood pile is protected from the rain.
Of course, you could accomplish the same thing by covering the wood pile with tarps, but that probably won’t look all that good. Besides, the wind tends to tear tarps up, especially if you don’t have them strung real tight. Tarps flapping in the wind always end up torn.