Wood Warms You Again and Again!

This past spring we had several oak trees cut down that were casting too much shade upon our struggling fruit trees.  In fact, one of our peaches and both apple trees didn’t even see sunshine – at all!  I always struggle with eco-friendly practices versus self-sufficiency, and this was another one of those battles.  Do I cut down some beautiful oak trees that are in the way of a few trees in my orchard, and let the fruit trees suffer for lack of sunlight?  Or do I cut down the offending oak trees so that I will someday be able to harvest my own organic apples?  Self-sufficiency won this debate.  Those oak trees had to go.

Cutting firewood

Here is Mike, the lumberjack, at least 30 (maybe 40) feet up a very tall oak tree!

We had a local tree guy, Mike, come over to fall the trees.  I was nervous because the trees were very big and tall, and were right next to our orchard, garden and beehive.  I was afraid one of the trees would fall the wrong way and destroy the very things we were trying to save!  Luckily, Mike was a very careful and experienced lumberjack and was able to place every limb and trunk exactly where it needed to be. Not one branch fell the wrong way.  Whew!

Once Mike the Lumberjack was done, Ray and I were left with a huge mess and tangle of oak limbs and huge trunks.  For the past two months we have slowly been cutting the

Firewood cutting

This is part of the mess we were left with.

wood into about 18 inch lengths – perfect for our cute little wood stove!  The wood will keep us warm this winter and will also cook a majority of our food!  After we get a large pile of wood cut, we carry it over to the splitter, since most of the logs are too big in diameter to fit into our itty bitty wood stove.  The wood splitter was made by my brother-in-law, Danny, who passed on to heaven almost three years ago (and I still miss him). He was an excellent welder and machinist, and could make just about anything.  The splitter may not be pretty, but it sure does get the job done – and fast!

Oak firewood cutting

This is the hydraulic splitter that my brother-in-law, Danny, made.

After splitting the wood into wood stove sized chunks, we stack the wood on top of a tarp.

Firewood warms you five times!

Here is the stack we had when we were a little more than half done with our wood cutting, splitting and stacking. We will need every bit of this wood to stay warm this winter.

The tarp is there so the wood doesn’t “melt” into the dirt, and to deter ants and termites.  It won’t keep the critters away completely, but the tarp will make it a bit more uncomfortable for them to inhabit our wood pile.

What we like to do is get up early in the morning when it is still cool and cut for about an hour or so, then we do some splitting and stacking, and try to quit around lunchtime.  The past week has been fairly productive because it has been cool, but next week we are supposed to be in the mid 90’s to 100’s here in Northern California, and it’s brutal working in that kind of heat!

Cutting Firewood

Here is a pile of brush and limbs from the oak trees ready to go into the chipper/shredder.

The next morning, if we are too tired and sore from cutting, splitting and stacking, we will spend time chipping instead.  We bought our chipper eight or nine years ago and it has performed well.  Rather than have large piles of brush to burn next winter, which is a fire hazard here in the middle of the forest (especially with our terrible drought here in California), we chip most of the small limbs, brush and leaves that are left over from the trees we cut.  The chipped and shredded material makes a wonderful mulch for the garden.  We are also throwing a layer over the ground in the orchard area, in preparation for planting clover to help condition the soil. Some of the mulch also goes into the compost pile.  It’s the most efficient and safe way we have found to get rid of all that brush from the trees!

Oak wood mulch in the garden

We spread about 4-5 inches of mulch in all the garden beds. It’s great because I don’t have to water as often because the mulch keeps the soil cool and moist.  Another benefit is that I have had very few weeds to contend with.

So, let’s see…  We get warm when we cut the wood, warmer still when we split it, and by the time we are stacking we are almost burned out – yes, pun intended 🙂 .  That’s warming three times.  But, then we chip.  That’s four times.  Finally, the wood will warm us is when we burn it in our woodstove!

Well, actually, I guess it warms us again when we eat the food cooked on the wood stove – delicious!  And also when we spread the mulch around in the garden beds and over the orchard area.  And then again…

well, you get the picture!

blog script

Blog Parties:  Meet Up MondayThank Goodness It’s MonClever Chicks Blog Hop; Grand Social; Mix It Up Mon;Create, Link, Inspire;  Amaze Me MonMotivation Monday; Inspiration Monday; Made By You Mon;Homemaking Monday; Mum-bo MondayShow & Share Tuesday; The Gathering Spot; Tues Garden Party; Brag About ItTuesdays with a Twist;The Scoop; Two Cup Tues; Tweak It Tues; Inspire Me Tues; Tuesdays at Our Home;  Pinterest FoodieLou Lou GirlsInspire Us Tues; Party In Your PJ’sMake, Bake and CreateDown Home Blog HopWildcrafting Wednesday;  Wicked Awesome WedWhatever goes Wed; Show and Share Wed; Wined Down Wed; What We Accomplished;  Project ParadeWake Up Wed; Fluster’s Creative Muster; Hump Day Happenings; Homestead Blog Hop; The Blogger’s Digest; Wow Us Wednesday; Turn To ShineOur Simple Homestead; Share Your Cup Thursday;  Home and Garden Thurs;  The Handmade HangoutCreate it Thursday;  Think Tank Thurs; Green Thumb Thurs; Homemaking Party; Treasure Hunt Thurs; All Things Thursday Inspire Us Thurs; Inspire or be Inspired; Project Parade; Inspiration Gallery; Pure Blog Love; Favorite Things; Freedom Fridays; Friendship Friday; From The Farm Blog Hop; Eat, Create, PartyPinworthy Projects PartyFarmgirl Friday;  Friday Flash Blog Party; Weekend re-Treat; Family Fun Friday; Friday’s Five Features; Real Food Fridays; Friday FavoritesOld Fashioned Friday; Fridays Unfolded; Inspired Weekend; Show Off Friday; Craft Frenzy FridayFront Porch Friday; No Rules Weekend Party; Friday Favorites; Giggles Galore; Say G’Day SaturdaySuper Saturday; Simply Natural Sat;  Saturday Sparks;  Show and Tell Sat;  My Favorite Things;  Dare to Share; Scraptastic SaturdayFrugal Crafty Home; That DIY Party; Nifty Thrifty Sunday; DIY Sunday Showcase; Snickerdoodle Sunday;  Simple Life Sunday; Think Pink Sunday; Sunday Showcase

Winter Homestead

We recently took the last weekend trip up to our future homestead for this year, to put everything to bed for the winter.  Since we don’t live up there yet, and especially since we don’t have a four-wheel drive vehicle to travel over deep snow or muddy roads, we will only venture up there a few more times (weather permitting), until early next spring. It has rained up there a little and our water storage tank is starting to collect a bit of water.  The mushrooms are springing up all over the place and some kind of critter is enjoying them as a snack!  Partially eaten mushroom

The artichoke plants got a heavy blanket of leafy mulch.  First, I placed a scaffolding of branches around the artichokes, so the oak leaf and pine needle mulch won’t crush the tender artichoke leaves.  Then, I raked up wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of oak leaves and pine needles and tossed them over and around the plants, about 1-1/2 to 2 feet thick. That should hold them until next spring.  An added bonus is that artichokes like slightly acidic soil, and as the mulch breaks down it will add a slight acidity and other nutrients to the soil!Mulching artichokes for winter

The gazebo had to come down also.  The gazebo is one of the first things up in the spring and one of the last items to come down in late fall.  We love sitting in the gazebo on our anti-gravity chairs, reading books or magazines after a hard day of working on the future homestead.  The entire gazebo is screened to keep us safe from the hungry mosquitoes or nasty wasps!

The fruit and nut trees in the orchard have lost their leaves, so it was time to spray them with a dormant spray.  I have a hard time trying to figure out a balance with sustainability and organic issues when it comes to my fruit trees. To spray, or not to spray, that is the question!  You see, the cherry trees got attacked by a voracious caterpillar last year, the apricots got spider mites and the peaches got leaf curl.  So what would you do?  I decided to go ahead and apply dormant spray – especially since there aren’t any leaves or fruit on the trees at this time.  It’s either do that, or have the trees suffer and perhaps not produce any fruit at all or, worse yet, die.  I prefer to eat fruit from live trees.  Of course, anything sprayed on the trees when they have leaves, blossoms or fruit will be eco-friendly and organic!  If anyone out there has a better solution, please tell me!  Any opinion or advice on this subject is always welcome!Dormant spraying fruit orchard

The soda can heater was reattached to the trailer.  This device prevents the trailer from freezing inside fairly well.  Of course, if there isn’t any sun for a few days the soda can heater will not work.  However, as soon as the sun cracks through the clouds, this puppy cranks up the heat!  If you would like to see how we made our soda can heater, click HERE.  We did drain the water pipes in the trailer – just in case!  It’s easier that way.Soda Can Heater

The windows in the outhouse, trailer and shed were locked down and doors were bolted.  We also loaded the truck with more firewood to take down to our current home in the valley.  We love wood heat as it heats to the core!  We don’t have much firewood left in this pile, but we will need to get another truckload of it in January when we come up to burn a brush pile and work some more on our back road.  This is the wood left over from an incident that happened to us a few years back when our entire 30′ x 330′ easement was harvested of all trees so that electrical lines could come down our private road, past us  and to the house at the end of the road, through a grant given by and executed by the USDA.  Unfortunately, that house was not built with permits and was also not up to code (even though I had advised the USDA of this fact long before the logging was done), so the power poles or lines never went in!  If this ever happens to you, just know that it is impossible to fight our government for negligence unless you have a lot of money!  I refuse to be bitter about this, but a lot of valuable timber was cut from our property against our wishes and unfortunately no one will take responsibility!  At least we were able to keep some of the wood for firewood!Stacked Firewood

Another year has passed on our future homestead and we are happy with the projects we tackled this year. Next spring we will put the finishing touches on the outhouse, finish our new back road to complete the loop on our property, and begin clearing for our garden and chicken coop!  And maybe, quite possibly, start building our house!

I am sharing this article at:   Make, Bake and Create;  Healthy2Day WednesdaysDown Home Blog HopCottage Style PartyWildcrafting WednesdayWhat I Learned WednesdayWicked Awesome Wednesday;  Whatever goes WednesdayShow and Share WednesdayWined Down Wednesday;  The HomeAcre HopHome and Garden ThursdayFabulously Frugal Thusday;Thriving ThursdaysSimple Lives ThursdayMountain Woman RendezvousCatch A Glimpse Party;  Create it ThursdayFrugal Days Sustainable Waysl ; Time Travel Thursday;  Freedom FridaysFriendship FridayFrom The Farm Blog HopTGIF Link PartyLittle House Friday DIY Linky;  Small Footprint FridaysPinworthy Projects PartyFarmgirl Friday;  Friday Flash Blog PartyWeekend re-Treat; Family Fun FridayFriday’s Five Features; Friday FavoritesOld Fashioned Friday

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...