C5’s F5’s of Adaptation- Food Storage. Food Production. Firewood. Fuel Storage (short term) and Friends (long term)
With your host, Category5.
Now, that there is the most boring cover photo I have ever put up. Be very happy I didn’t decide to put up a photo of…uhm…C5 touching wood. I am not above doing something like that.
The reason for the photo is 3 fold. I just cycled my old gas a few weeks back which is a chore I do every 6 months. The rental vehicle that the insurgence company loaned us was a gas guzzler and this was a good excuse to do the job because I was a couple months late in doing that Biannual chore. Plus, we would be snowed in soon and I wouldn’t want to haul that up the hill. The obvious reason for the photo is that chainsaws need gas. It also needs 2-stroke mix (something that cant be improvised) and bar oil. This is also a reminder that gas has a short shelf life. You do not want to put old gas in anything or leave gas in engines, where it turns into varnish and gums everything up.
(edit, a day later. In case you wonder what I mean by cycle, I don’t mean getting rid of it. I simply put it in our vehicle. At six months, its still good and that is why we do it. It’s not a waste of money because we were going to use it anyhow. We simply had it in advance. And before anyone says it, we are fully aware of the hypocracy. In case there is any misunderstanding, we drive. We fly. We buy shit at Walls-mart. I am more than happy to never drive again the moment my competition joins me. Me being a monk solves nothing. We just wont get to CO2 reduction by personal action. It will have to be top down…or by collapse. I live in Butt Fuck nowhere and yet am prepared to never drive again. Are you? Edit ended)
The other reason for that photo is that I wanted to give you something to visualize. (I dont mean visualizing my wood….but whatever works for you). My gas storage isnt impressive, complicated, mysterious, excessively large or expensive. Just some easy to handle containers that go in the shed, away from the house. This is a reminder to do with fuel distribution disruptions. Name any of the recent disasters and one thing you will notice is empty gas stations or stalled cars on roadways because they didn’t have enough gas to start with.
I have a C5 secret for you. There are indeed vulnerabilities our modern life systems have, where gas resupply would end immediately and permanently. Death and destruction to follow. But on the whole, I mainly only see disruptions and shorgages in our near future. If an abrupt stop does happen, I might have one trip INTO town to do but on the whole, I ain’t driving anywhere. I got bikes for that. That gas is mainly for the chainsaw. Preppers seem to have some strange plans and pictures about what they will be doing with their post crash time. Bugging Out. Patrolling. Fighting off the city folks. Wondering the wasteland to fight for stuff.
Knowing gas will be unusable in 2 years, how much effort firewood is… and how loud a chainsaw is, My main job will be knocking down and bucking up as many trees as possible. I dont need to move it right away, but I want the gas used and turned into a more storeable energy source. My goal is to have quality logs that will last me… Till I DIE. Any dry space will be filled with wood. The house. Sheds… broken down vehicles. Any dry space so it doesn’t rot. Yup. C5 found a use for cars. Solar wood driers and storage. C5 Rule of Survival- Never enough Dry Storage. See my previous articles on storing recycled roof metal.
This is just a filler post so I will bypass getting all preachy. Oil is energy. Ancient carbon that should have stayed where it was. Now it is loose into the atmosphere and not going away. Wood is energy. Carbon Neutral, by the way. It will be back in wood form in 25 years if the Forrest isn’t destroyed by over consumption.
The other energy source is Solar… and I don’t mean panels.
I pulled the plants the other day, after -8c weather finally finished the plants. It bought us an extra month of ripening time. With the plants gone, you can see recent upgrades. Notice clothe lines. Its our cloth drier. Also notice new food dehydrating racks up high. I doubled up the number cross slats in the spring to strengthen it against storms. The greenhouse pumps heat into the house in the transition seasons, reducing firewood… and the reason you are here, notice the firewood. This was stuff I cut late, in the late spring. It didnt have a full year to cure… so the greenhouse speed cured it for me… and now keeps it dry. Here is how things looked earlier
So, lets whip out our wood and do size comparison.
My general rule is, “Burn ’em all. Let god sort it out”. If you have to move it out of the way, you should buck it up, store it and turn it into energy. Lumber. Pallets. Softwood. Fruit tree trimmings. Bark. Even wood chips if you only toss in a cup at a time while other stuff is burning. Its all energy and it was all going to decompose into atmospheric cO2 anyhow. If you do have good hardwood in your woodpile, this is the way to stretch it out and use it more efficiently, saving it for when it really counts.
Soft wood, semi hard wood and hard wood. Not the stages of arousal.
Soft woods are good for getting fires going and quickly getting a coal base down. Some people swear by alder. It burns hot. The problem is that it can burn too hot. You would not want to fill a stove with alder and walk away. That is a recipe for a flew fire. Some stove manufacturers say, do not use alder. I say, use in moderation with a purpose. Say, if a large hardwood log is bogging down and not giving heat, toss some smaller, faster burning wood in there to get it going. All those smaller wood cuts and thick branches are good for this. Using many different sizes and woods allows you to adjust the temperature once you have some experience under your belt. Over time, you will learn the heat each type of wood will throw and how long its burn time is. Save your precious hard wood for when you need it.
Semi hard wood. At age 51, semi hard is…. never mind. Things take a bit longer and marathon, all night burn sessions are a thing of the past. I am speaking specifically about birch. It’s not quite hard but hard enough. Here is some survival stuff about birch though that I have learned along the way. First off, if you have screwed up and didn’t have time to season your wood, your best chance of getting through the winter will be with birch. Same if you run out of wood mid winter. It wont be very efficient but it should burn. Part of that is because of the oils in the wood. Birch oil. The next survival tip is the bark. I try to peel some of the bark off my logs and set it aside. Its for fire starter. Way better than paper or cardboard. its the oils. Same if a fire is bogging down. Ill toss in a bit of birch bark and this will get some flame and airflow going. I also use this in the bush and have got some near impossible fires started after deluges of rain left no dry tinder.
True story. I went to a primitive skills walk with a first nations teacher. She was impressive as she could call birds. She would make a call and suddenly the trees of the empty forest would fill up with birds. Then she chatted about what wood could be used to make fire sticks. I pulled some peeling birch bark from a tree, pulled the Bic from my pocket, lit it and held it like a candle. She stopped and stared and said, “I cant believe I have never seen that before”.
We have a lot of birch on the property but it is not big. It grows fast and in large clumps. Few people see trees as predators. They are trying to outgrow, starve off, kill and then eat the trees around them. If I cut down the competition, it leaves the strongest tree to get fatter and stronger. This builds a better canopy that is more fire resistant. These are stove log thickness so they don’t need to be split and I can carry a 5-10 foot log out of the forest on my shoulder. If I bring these back to the house, I can buck them up there. On my list of things I still need to purchase, I could really use a quality, corded, electric chainsaw. We have solar panels so on a sunny day when we have a huge excess of energy, this is a good opportunity to buck up cords of wood. A prepper contact of mine uses a corded electric chainsaw exclusively. He has an inverter for his truck that he will clamp onto his battery and he will simply run cables to what he wants to cut. Smooth move. Its also very Ninja as the truck and saw is much quieter than a gas saw that will roll through the hills, letting everyone know that you have gas and where you are.
Hard wood. As the ladies say, a hard man is good to find… or something like that. I wasn’t listening. Hardwood is precious. I hate cutting it as it usually has some food application. Maples produce syrup. Apple wood produces apples. Oak produces acorns. Etc. But it is the densest store of energy. In our stove, I find that if I put in two large pieces of hardwood, it is WAY too much and the heat cranks to the level it might damage the metal. Thus, I mix and match. Its a good thing to add for the overnight burn, leaving me with a good amount of coals in the morning.
Which gets to my next trick. I don’t clean out all of my wood ash. I leave an inch or two. What happens is that some coals sink inside the ash. This cuts down even more oxygen and it smolders as charcoal through to morning. In the morning I use the poker to scrape the coals up from under the ash into a pile. The newly added oxygen blows them back to life. I add some new wood on top and open the air intake… and the fire starts itself. I rarely need to start a new fire during the entire winter unless I was intentionally letting it go out. Who needs to become an expert at flint and steel when a three dollar brick of paper matches could last me a decade. Let me repeat that. Ideally, coals are kept alive the entire winter.
A couple weeks back, I woke blearily, stumbling though my morning. While MrsC5 gets onto coffee, I stepped out to grab an arm load of wood to toss on the coals to bring it back to life. Suddenly something dawned on me and I broke out laughing. I turned to MrsC5 and said, “Look honey. I’ve got morning wood”. Budumpt tumpt. Giggiddy.
Hear is my next trick. When I cut my hard and semi hard woods, I dont cut it all the way down. I leave a couple to three feet. That way, the tree will grow back… and I will cover that whole subject in C5 Gets Wood- Part Two, on post apocalyptic wood farming for when the chainsaw is no more. As a bonus, this will keep deer coming back because new shoots and buds is what the dear really really really want. This makes them fat, happy… and keeps them near my freezer. I don’t waist energy hunting. My general premise is- Grow it and they will come.
Now for a couple of safety issues I have learned along the way. Never ever ever walk out your front door if your stove air intake is open. This happens occasionally so I know. It starts by me putting a bunch of quick burning wood in the stove in the morning with the air intake open to get things cooking. The mistake is then going out the door to feed the chickens or other animals… and I often seem to forget what I was doing and start tinkering or looking at something. I eventually run back in the house in terror, realizing I may have just burned my house down. This would also be a problem for someone that starts there fire and then drives off to work. That will be a long day at work, waiting to find out if your house is still there.
Also, we keep a BIG container of baking soda by the stove. At the first sign of a chimney fire, we would open the door and throw in the powder, close the door tight and make sure the air intake is closed. This should suffocate the fire as it produces…. I think…CO2? Don’t quote me on that.
Also, never pick up a chainsaw without putting on chainsaw pants. I almost gave myself a lethal cut across the thigh last year. You wont get a second chance to learn this lesson. The horror is that I almost didn’t put them on that day because I was convinced it was a quick job and I wouldn’t need them. One mistake and MrsC5 would need a new husband. I would have bled out, alone.
Something to add to that, As with age, I cant push myself all day anymore. If you are tired with a saw, you are more likely to make a mistake. At this point, I will only do one chainsaw gas fill at a time. When the tank is empty, I’m done. I might come back in an hour but there is always tomorrow. Its a big job and I spread it out. Why risk my life.
This is how I keep my wood up. I showed you mine. Now its your turn……. Its only fair.
And FYI, fuel prices are in the basement again. If you don’t have a gas storage, This is a damned good time to start. Remember Kunstlers words. Oil above 75$ a barrel destroys economies. Oil below 75$ a barrel destroys oil extraction companies. I wonder what will disappear first. Go get gas now. Its like a condom. Better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. And don’t forget, Rotate, Rotate, Rotate.
Stay tuned for Part II, for that day when the gas is gone, good riddance.
(A big thank’s, S.R., A.S., J.D. and J.T. I feel rich)
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