Monday, November 25, 2013

There's Always More Than One Solution To Any Problem

My hubby and I were on the road the other day when we saw the scene in the picture playing out. Talk about re-defining the meaning of the words "Tractor Trailer"!

There's always more than one solution to any problem. We need to remember that. These farmers, for example, needed to move the trailer - a job that is by no means inexpensive when you do it through 'traditional' methods - hiring a big rig moving company. But they used the resources they had on hand, some teamwork, and accomplished their mission.

One way we can start reclaiming our economic power is to start practicing solving problems for ourselves. Rather than default to calling in the pros, do you have the skills, ability, creativity, or resources to fix the problem yourself?

You might not need to move a house trailer - but you might need to fix the dripping kitchen faucet or do some other home repair. Taking on these tasks, you may find yourself surprised with what you can actually do for yourself! Get in the habit of appointing yourself your first go-to repair company. After a year, you'll be amazed at what you've done, and how much money you've saved.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Five Things You Should Know About Firewood

If you're new to heating your home with wood, you may be surprised to learn that the process isn't as simple or automatic as you might think. There's a lot to learn about firewood, and the more you know, the more effective you'll be at keeping your home warm. Here are five points to keep in mind:

Conserve Energy: Quality Counts: While every tree burns in a forest fire, not every tree does an equally good job of heating your home. When you're cutting wood, you're going to want to concentrate on those trees that are good firewood first - these would be fruit woods, harder woods - and leave the not so great wood, such as softer, wet woods - for when you have excess energy or no choice.

Don't Burn Up Useful Trees if You Can Avoid It: While fruit and maple trees produce magnificent firewood, these trees are likely to be of more use to you as a source of fruit & maple syrup. Think ahead, because once the tree is cut, it's cut - you can't put it back up!

There's No Shame in Buying Wood: Using a woodstove doesn't mean you commit to procuring every bit of fuel on your own. Buying wood from neighbors & local vendors is a good way to keep money in your community & out of the hands of big corporations.

Make sure to compare prices, and keep an eye to make sure that what you've paid for is what's actually delivered. A face cord should measure 8 foot long, 4 feet high, and however wide you've agreed to with your firewood dealer. It's a really good thing if the firewood you buy actually fits in the wood stove you have, otherwise, plan on doing a whole lot more cutting!

Approach Downed Wood With Your Eyes Open: When you're out after firewood, discovering that a tree has fallen over, been snapped off by the wind, or has dropped large branches onto the ground can feel like you've got a winning lottery ticket. However, before you do the happy dance, check the wood out.

Some wood may have be too rotten to be useful to you -remember, decay is an inevitable natural process! - and other wood may still be burnable, but so full of bugs that you won't want to store it in the house. Finally, wood that has been laying on the ground, depending on variety, can drink up water like a sponge, which makes it useless as firewood. 

Stove Maintenance Is Important: Some types of firewood, especially pines, create creosote that clings to the inside of your chimney. Creosote is extremely flammable, and chimney fires are no joke. It's much better to prevent a fire than to try to recover from one! Regular cleaning of your chimney, the safe disposal of ashes, and other stove maintenance tasks are an essential part of burning your wood safely.