Food, clothing, shelter… and in the Mid-Hudson Valley: heat. There’s no escaping this part of life here, and as the age of cheap and available liquid fuels draws to a close, we face using both new and old methods for keeping warm. For a short generation we’ve become accustomed to the ease of cheap liquid fuels flowing from tank to boiler controlled only by the flick of a dial. Now many find themselves already making the transition back to the solid fuel lifestyle and its requirements. And although most homeowners would LOVE to have a $40,000-$150,000 complete, sustainable, thermal retrofit for their homes, in rural Mid-Hudson Valley, wood is often the only somewhat sustainable and seasonally reliable source of heat that many can afford in the short-term. This article is for those of us currently using wood for warmth.
The wood fuel lifestyle has its requirements:
- Cutting & Stacking Skills – both new and old
• Labor and Time
• Keen awareness (it’s much easier to freeze the pipes, burn the house down, or combust your fuel poorly with a wood stove than an automated furnace).
STEP 1: Secure a firewood source, either your own woodlot or a close friend and neighbor with a large one, or order it from a supplier if you can afford it.
STEP 2: Process your firewood – fell, haul, buck, split, stack.
STEP 3: This last step is where many tend to go wrong. Traveling around the state I see more people slowly rotting their wood than quickly drying it. A stack of wood against the north side of a house with a tarp over it is an ideal way to grow mushrooms but it won’t yield wood fit for your stove, although many people burn such wood year after smoky year. Our next blog is an overview of why it’s hard to dry wood well and what it actually requires, putting you one step closer to local self-reliance.