Saturday, March 23, 2013
Post Collapse Wood Cutting
Yes rather than wade through each post I just deleted everything to get rid of any pictures or information I did not want getting out. I am not so much worried about Government spies who work for Homeland security as I am locals or extended locals that may have an axe to grind if things heat up. I am just being a bit more careful these days is all. I believe we will come to political blows at some point so I am not going to broadcast my location any more than I have to.
Last Winter I decided to really do an in-depth look at harvesting firewood without fossil fuels or electricity, although technically I plan on having electricity available for wood harvesting in a grid down situation I just wanted to go at it old school.
Right off the bat I had to amend my rules because I do not have a cart broke horse available nor the tack needed to harness such an animal. So I used a tractor to pull my trailer. I have a horse that would easily do the work with very little encouragement but wasn't shelling out the money for a harness right then or going to modify my trailer for draft animal pulling.
The first rule of hand cutting firewood will be never use an axe if you don't have to. Let me tell you the woods will be a much cleaner underbrush free place when people have to start harvesting firewood by hand. Those branches and small dead trees that someone would scoff at with a chainsaw will now become blessings from heaven. Those large dead trees that hold so much wood in one place are not quite the "mother-load" you might think when you have to use an axe to fell them.
The bow saw and the back of your cart will be the most important and useful items in your inventory as long as you have a woodlot available like the one I did.
Basically I finally ended up ignoring the axe and two man cross cut saw and just had my partner drive the trailer around through open paths and roads, crisscrossing the woodlot. I would then harvest fallen limbs and small dead standing trees and cut them to length on the end of the trailer. Any wood that is already on the ground is a huge...I mean huge labor saving bonus. Now I know there are guys out there who can swing a mighty axe and fell a tree bigger than my ex-wife's ego in a minute flat. Maybe someday if I kept practicing I could do that as well but I am not there yet and even if I was I can't imagine by passing a good six inch branch under such circumstances.
Unless you have a very good sized woodlot of course eventually you will run out of dead fall branches. Also the specie of trees you cut becomes a much more important issue without the use of small engines. Trees like blackgum, some oaks, cedars and pines become much more labor intensive without a chainsaw or power splitter. Blackgum especially should be avoided at all costs if splitting by hand is required. Elms, although low in BTU output become important because they tend to die in large numbers at just the right size for saw cutting without undue splitting. Walnut trees are nice because they grow pretty straight and stay at just the right diameter for many years before getting huge. Any tree with a woven grain (like the Blackgum) that is large enough to need splitting is almost not worth the effort. Some hardwoods like walnut and Osage Orange can dull a saw blade or axe in a matter of seconds if they have cured too long as well.
Minor issues that are ignored or go totally un-noticed when using a chainsaw now become very important problems.
Time also becomes an issue. A load that would normally take me about two hours with a chainsaw now took over six hours by hand and that was picking and choosing the size of wood I collected. If I had done the exact same tree for instance I estimate by hand it would have taken two full days of work to get the same amount of wood.
Bottom line. Harvesting wood by hand to run a furnace like I have been running all this Winter would be impossible in a grid down situation. At best I would have to switch to my much smaller inside wood stove and we would be huddled in the living room together under blankets.
The wife would like that :)
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!