Daylight savings has come, our evenings are getting darker, earlier and signs of winter are starting to show. Looming heating costs are a concern for most people this year. Whether you heat entirely with firewood or use it to supplement on those chilly days, this is the article for you. Unlike propane/natural gas or fuel oil, wood is readily available and with proper equipment and some elbow grease there is no reason why you should have to pay for firewood.
I remember one year we had a storm on Labor Day that tore through our neighborhood. Downed trees were everywhere, and the debris pick up was a huge undertaking. My dad was one of the only neighbors around with a pick-up truck and chainsaw. I remember his presence being requested for weeks after the storm to help cut up trees and trail away debris. He then became the go to guy for anyone who needed a tree cut down, or clean up from a fallen limb. Needless to say we never paid for firewood again. It needs to be noted that all wood belongs to someone, so asking permission prior to going on a citizens property is a must! Don't trespass, that just leads to trouble and makes a bad name for yourself. Sometimes bartering can be your best friend, if you have chickens or pigs, then eggs or meat could be a nice trade, good with your hands, then offer up some handyman assistance for a romp in their forest with your chainsaw.
If you are already heating with wood, then you know how to season and store freshly cut wood so it burns efficiently. If your new to heating with woodstoves, it's advised you educate yourself on what type of wood you can burn and how to properly season.
Check out some of these clever ways to get your firewood for free!
Post on Social Media - Yes of course you will find people selling firewood, but you will also find those people that just want that dead tree in the front yard removed. Put it out there, social media and word of mouth works great. Put up a note at your local grocery store, laundry mat, barber shop offering your services.
Storm Clean Up - When bad weather hits get the chain saw ready to go and get to work! Remember, my Dad who scored years of free firewood, thanks in part to the ripple effect of that one Labor Day storm. Once your name is out there, the firewood will find you! Our local township has crews that remove the downed trees from across roads. Make a call to your town supervisor and ask if you can pick up the logs left behind. They may be very happy to have the assistance.
Go door to door. If you see a downed tree on a piece of property, offer to remove it for free. You will find plenty of people that would be more than happy to not have to pay to have a down tree removed. *Safety Tip - never go near trees that have fallen across power lines - This is a job for the power company only.
Ask Family and Friends. You know those lucky ones that have some wooded acreage. Removal of dead or diseased trees are crucial to maintaining a happy forest environment. I'm sure your family will be more than happy to let you weed out a few trees, you might even get dinner out of it!
Make friends with your local tree care company. It's expensive to pay professionals to drop a tree. To save money many homeowners take on the task of cleaning up the mess. Drop your name and contact information with the professionals, in turn they can give to clients who don't want or don't have the additional money to pay for the clean up. Make yourself approachable and build a good reputation for being honest and easy to work with. In doing so, the experts will be more inclined to pass along your information.
Vacant Lots for sale. Watch for any vacant lots that have been sold and will be bringing on new constructions. Lots need to be cleared prior to building, most people would prefer to have it done for free than having that additional cost.
Check with your local sawmills, see if they have any scrap wood they would like removed. Yes they will be using the majority of the wood, but scraps can be just as helpful as logs, and every little bit helps!
Check with your National and State Forests. Permits are often offered at no or low cost allowing people to gather firewood. This is a win/win for them, it helps with proper forest management and doesn't utilize limited staff. There will undoubtably be limits on how much can be removed and what types of trees you can harvest, but worth the investment to obtain a greater quantity of wood.
ChipDrop - This is an website (getchipdrop.com) that allows you to be put on a list for arborists and tree companies to drop off logs (and also mulch for you gardeners!) after maintenance/cleaning up a site. You never know what you are going to get, or when it will arrive or the type/condition of the wood. But it's free and easy to sign up, and little to no work on your part, just follow the directions on the website.
With a bit of effort and persistence there's no reason why you need to be paying for firewood. Keep your name out there via social media, make friends with the local town supervisor, and keep your eyes open for neighbors in need. You'll have a wood shed full of free wood before you know it! Happy heating!
References- adapted from:
Besemer, T. (2021, September 27) 10 Smart Ways of Collecting Free Firewood [Blog Post] Retrieved from: https://www.ruralsprout.com/free-firewood/
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