Oh, You poor, gullible readers.
With your mischievous, bratty Host, Category5. Shock Me, Shock Me, Shock Me…
We are here today to talk about “A bundle of sticks”. I mentioned in an earlier post that with energy decline, we will all become much more comfortable with using the term “Faggot” again, in it’s historical context. I guess it is easy to see where the insulting term came into the english language. (FYI, if you are visiting this site from abroad, calling someone a faggot, here, is a way to de-humanize someone). I wonder if Survivalist will take on the same meaning over time. You know, rubbing two sticks together. Hanging out with Bears in the woods. Never mind. Well today we will all be getting in touch with our inner faggot. The classical painting at the top of the page is called, “Man with faggot”. You will also notice the billhook, cutting tool he carries with him. (or not. I almost missed it)
In fact, we will be covering three very important, post apocalyptic wood gathering techniques. Faggot wood, Coppice wood and Pollard wood. We will even brief on Tree Hay. HUGE subjects… that most North Amerikaners will never have even heard of before. The reason we are covering this deeply interesting subject, under the Post Apocalyptic title, is because we are covering firewood… without a chainsaw.
Plus, I get to say Faggot a lot to make some of my readers deeply uncomfortable. That is always a bonus.
Once again, what we call Post Apocalyptic Adaptation, others around the world and our ancestors would have simply just called LIFE.
Just in case you missed it, This article is part II (sort of) of the C5 Gets Wood series and you can find part one here. https://darkgreenmountainsurvivalresearchcentre.wordpress.com/2018/11/14/c5-gets-wood-part-i-the-blue-pill-moment/
(Hang on. This is C5 coming to you from the future, after I had already, almost finished the article. I had a real scare today. I’m still trying to find my ground. My equilibrium. I almost lost everything today… and it deserves its own future article… probably called “C5 Is The WORST Survivor, EVER”. Something called me away from the house today while I was still foggy… and I ran out the door in a rush. I was an hour and a half away when I suddenly realized I had filled the stove… then left the house with the stove air intake open. I had to wait for hours to find out if I had just lost everything. Got lucky this time. Sometimes, I am really good in a crisis. Other times… Not so much. Today was one of those days I was struggling to hold it together. Well, I’ll leave all that for another article. The IRONY of having my complete survival system potentially burn to dust… while talking about apocalyptic fire wood for survival, is not lost on me. It’s rather difficult to be an atheist at moments like this. Do I thank the Gods for my temporary privilege… Or drink some beer and tell the Gods what I really think of their shenanigans. I’m on beer 3…of..?.)
Getting through a Canadian winter in a collapse setting will be pretty darned scary once the chainsaw is fired for the very last time. This may happen because the gas is gone. It may happen because you are simply too poor to afford the chainsaw or the gas or the vehicle. It may even happen because you become too poor to even afford your electric bill. It’s a big enough job each year, even with a chainsaw and a big fossil fuel powered vehicle. An ax and an ancient loggers saw just wont cut it. Far too much calorie output during a time when you will be struggling to get enough calorie input. Ether way, it’s going to be a huge job each and every year, and you are going to want to do it during the cold months. Late fall, after harvest, early spring, before garden prep, and during any non lethal freeze time to take advantage of the snow to be able to sled stuff out of the Forrest. And you want to have the entire summer or two for the wood to dry, cure or season.
But wait. We cant start here. We have to go back in time to my first experiences of deep realization that wood equals survival. You would think this would date back to snow camping as an early teen, trying to keep from freezing, huddled in a snow pile. Or maybe as a homeless older teen, without gear, having to sleep in a lean-to, on heated rocks covered with cedar branches. Or maybe my first winter in a cabin on Cortez Island in my twenties, grossly inexperienced with a wood stove and the amount of wood it would take in a completely uninsulated rental.
But no. Two incidents in my travels, imprinted deeply on my brain. The first was in Kingston, Jamaica. Yes. I have been to The Yard in Trench Town, under deeply unusual circumstances. This included Community Elders as guides and protection. You do not want to go randomly walking around Kingston. But that is a story for another time. Either way, at breakfast time and dinner, the city would fill with smoke. This was from the cooking fires.
I looked out the car window to see a boy, maybe twelve, pulling a large tree branch down the street. It had obviously been pulled off one of the public trees and it was green. He was clearly pulling it home so his family would have cooking fuel. I hadn’t understood at the time that Jamaica had gone through an economic collapse but a lot of my early Prepper writing was based on insights I attained based on what I observed there.
Like the incredible value and irreplaceability of sheet metal roofing, from people living in metal shacks and using it as defensive barriers during neighborhood gang conflicts. Or the value of maintaining bicycles from scrap and how to carry loads on them.
But it was the boy pulling that heavy tree limb home that is worth remembering. My thoughts were that there were not a lot of trees in the middle of this city. Where did he get it from. Would he risk arrest from the high police presence. That this was the pre teens “Job” while he had a younger sibling in tow. But mainly that the wood was green and not efficient for burning but it must be all the family has in the way of energy for cooking.
The next moment was in Mexico. I learned the government had handed out Bicycle “cabs” to rural towns. Just a cheap chinese mountain bike with the front forks removed and in its place, a seat with two front wheels. Once again, I was looking out the window of a bus as we passes an older-middle aged man pushing one of these bike cabs down the highway. But it was being used as a Truck. Piled on it were branches, piled high above the pushers head. He was pushing this load of what appeared to be dead fall branches from a wooded area, maybe 10-15 miles away from a town. It was my first observation of a trike being used for heavy transport. I never had the opportunity to ask if it was his job. Was it for his families use? Did he sell bundles in the town for cooking?
In both these places, people didn’t need heat to stay alive over a winter. This was just for cooking. To make food edible.
I started to picture in my head a time after resource depletion or economic collapse, anywhere withing walking distance of a city or town, being stripped of all trees and bushes. People having to stand armed guard to protect fruit trees, having to make the decisions of food or hypothermia. And to what age can a person continue to gather wood.
Which gets to another story I read about the Bosnian conflict. In it, the interviewee was needing to cut down a tree in the yard of an apartment building. As he began to cut it, an old woman yelled from the windows of the building above, “Get away from my tree. That is not yours”. Undeterred because of the sheer survival necessity, he cut the tree up, then carried a portion of it, up the many floors of the apartment building to be brought to the elderly woman that was alone, so that she had heating and cooking wood.
I guess it is the job of an Adapter educator to put my mind to such subjects.
Before we get onto the real education part, time for some photos from my doomstead.
When most people picture in their heads what a wood stack looks like, I am guessing they are probably thinking this.
A few big trees, later to be split down to stove size with an ax, splitting maul or power splitter. But I decided, just for you fine sketchy folks, to do part of next years firewood as a visual aid. A post apocalyptic wood pile will look much more like this…
Why would I do this. Yes, I very intentionally cut this wood, just so you could look at it. My point being, if you are going to have to cut your firewood with a hand tool… and then haul it buy leg power…. it is going to look more like this.
Now, full disclosure, I didn’t cut this with hand tools. I used the gas powered chainsaw. I hauled it up to the house with a gas powered engine. I’ll most likely buck up the rest using an electric saw powered by the solar panels when I have excess electricity.
I was using energy slaves. I was only willing to put so much energy in just to teach a few things. I only put that photo up to show the value of a light trailer. As light as possible. You want to pull stuff. Not trailer. It’s one of my more handy possessions. I suppose, some day, it could be re purposed as a horse wagon.
Mainly for you folks, I decided to cut my wood from this mess.
That there is some ratty assed shit land. I cant walk through it. Even the deer don’t come in here. But worse, its a huge fire hazard. The farmers refer to this invasive species as a field destroyer. This was once field. It will never return to actual forest because it chokes out the taller trees that would get up above this shit wood, get a proper woodland canopy over it and kill off and eat these trees, eventually returning this to a more forest fire resistant wilderness. The only thing I would be able to do to reclaim this area would be to cut everything. With the sunlight, weeds and grasses would grow, then get cows in here to woodland graze… and I am way too old to learn cattle at this point. I’ll never get this shit out, So my only option is to turn this to Coppice production. Let me show you. I cut some fence posts out of here a few years ago to do dead hedging with. This is what came back from the stumps.
Now it is coming back long and straight instead of a ratty mess. This material can be used for woven fences or what is known as Hurdles, for keeping animals contained. Over time, it can be cut again for post apocalyptic firewood, but now able to be cut with a billhook or sheers, instead of needing a chainsaw.
This is a much better example. This is a Service Berry tree. A decent hard wood. Plus it produces berries. The only problem is that they are way up at tree height so only the birds can get them. Not any more.
This was cut 5 or 6 years ago. Its pretty much ready to be cut again. Its a working tree now. Its a tree with a job. I have staggered the cutting of this tree type around the property so their are different trees at different stages. Food and firewood. That can be cut with a billhook, bow saw or heavy machete or hatchet.
Now for that whole mixed media part, lets turn to more edumicated folks that really know their stuff.
Now that you know what coppice wood is, that it is a real thing, and that this is how Europeans survived in a relatively small area… since we were using stone tools, without need of chainsaws… now you know there is a full world of info on coppicing on youtube for you to look up yourself. This is one of the few examples where mans involvement in resource extraction is actually beneficial to the environment.
Before we introduce the next subject, I now have to show you another very exiting….stump. I wont be insulted if you call me “Dumb as a stump”. I wish I could grow my head back when someone cut it off.
This was an experiment I tried before I even heard of the word Pollard. Once again, this is a service berry tree I was trying to turn into a working tree. Use the chainsaw now so I don’t need one once the gas is gone. I mentioned, I was experimenting with the different heights. The taller one is looking pretty good, even though they were cut at the same time. So…. what happened to the shorter ones?
Deer happened. The deer love this. Some of the living willow fence I planted is struggling as well because of the deer. But it keeps deer close to my freezer. So I learned this subject… by accident. Who knew it had a name… and ancient history. So. let me introduce you to Pollarding. Heavy production, fast growing, hand tool possible, firewood. Why replant… when there is already well established roots and it already got through the difficult part of being a young tree
I’m also throwing this one in. Its not as flashy and sort of dull… but watch it anyhow for a better historical perspective. We have been turning trees into meat for a very long time.
One last youtube clip. Now watch someone that really knows what they are doing. I felt privileged to watch this young fellow work, using a billhook to create a faggot bundle.
OK. This post is long enough… so I guess I am going to come back for…C5 Gets Apocalyptic Wood from Faggots- Part II and1/2.
Sooooo, Why not bring in a song from DJ-C5 to end this. Did you trust me to do the right thing when you saw that title. This is Category5, the one and only, coming to you with Adaptive survival advice. Who do you trust”? (stick to the end of the article)
( I have a backlog of people I need to thank for donations since the new year. My bad. I was so mentally focused on the Adapters article that I wasn’t being socially responsible to those backing my play. Let me solve that now. A BIG BIG thanks to SR, TM and CD. Also to AT, JT and JD. You folks really helped with getting some alternative, fire wood cutting tools for evaluation. Anything left over will go into metal from the scrap yard for future projects. I am truly honored that people from OTHER countries, are interested in what I am doing in this one)
If you would like to give a “Tip” for writing services rendered, you can pretty much guarantee I will use it on other projects and experiments to write about. It’s what I would have beeen doing anyhow. You can find the paypal link at the top of the page where it says, “Giving Just The TIP”
Bonus read- Us Canadians have un-deserved respect in the world. Its called the Canada Corporation for a reason. It’s a bit late, but this is my Shout Out to the other Nations I share land with. The whole world is watching-
And Bonus C5 Music… from the Danes. Not sure if I am the Good, the Bad or the Ugly.