Storm-Felled Firewood, Click Training and Solar Batteries

Pick up tips for using storm-downed trees for firewood, clicker training animals and solar batteries for home use.

I live in an area that gets a lot of storms; how can I put downed twigs and trees to use?

Look for felled wood that’s headed to the landfill so you can collect and use this free resource. Photo by Adobe Stock/slexp880

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could heat your home free of charge? Whether you use gas or electric, heat is one of the most expensive utilities. So, naturally, finding a way to cut heating costs is ideal. As a landscaper who doesn’t have full-time work in winter, cutting my winter expenses is crucial.

This year, I was able to heat my home with free wood from storm-downed trees. I finally have a woodstove, but there isn’t much wood on the property where I live, on a tiny plot of land that’s less than 1/2 acre in eastern North Carolina. I stack and burn through the little bit of wood that’s here early in the year. Yet, after Hurricane Dorian came through, piles of wood and downed trees were all around town, ready to be hauled to the landfill. There are so many uses for this wood — even the softwoods that can’t be burned. Seeing an opportunity, I started up my truck, grabbed my chainsaw, and started collecting. For about two weeks, I had more wood than I could handle. My tiny yard was soon covered with wood ready to be cut to size and split.

In a two-week span, I was able to harvest around 2.5 cords of firewood. Best of all, gathering it only took me an hour or two each day. When I’ve made firewood in the past, downing a tree and dragging it out of the woods took a long time. However, when Dorian came through, the wood couldn’t have been easier to collect. I was easily able to create a supply of firewood for winter.

I definitely ran into a few stumbling blocks when collecting the wood. The biggest of them was identifying the wood I was collecting. Sure, it’s easy to tell a hardwood from a softwood, but a number of hardwoods are difficult to process. Finding the best firewood is harder when the tree isn’t standing tall. One load of wood in particular was difficult to split. Splitting the smaller pieces was easy, but there were a lot I just couldn’t split. I tried to burn what I couldn’t split outside in my fire pit. When a crew of firefighters came to my door and asked me to put it out, I discovered that burning outside, even in a fire pit, is illegal in the city where I live.

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