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Got Wood?

Once a week for the past three months, CM and I have set aside an hour to collect and cut firewood. We spoke with a neighbor a few weeks ago about cutting up fallen trees on his property, and he was kind enough to let us do it. So yesterday morning, we went over to cut up some wood.

We have a 5kw wood stove from Tiny Wood Stoves that keeps us warm during the fall, winter, and early spring. This little monster puts out a tremendous amount of heat using only a fraction of the wood a regular-sized stove does. We even have an oven on top to bake food. Since our home is only 320 square feet, we have the stove in front of the couch so we can sit in front of it on a chilly evening and watch the flames dance around. Bellatrix, our cat, loves to sit and watch the fire with us; she's so precious.

Ms. Bellatrix

So why am I writing about woodstoves today? Well, I wanted to share some information that may benefit you now or in the future. Our 5kw stove is the largest size Tiny Wood Stoves currently makes. There are three other sizes in decreasing order that accommodate smaller spaces. Keep in mind this company caters to van-lifers, converted buses, tiny houses, yurts, and other small dwellings, which is a massive help to people like us.

These small stoves may seem pointless, but what I love about them is the tiny amount of wood required to keep us warm. Where it takes a modern-sized home 2-3 cords of wood each year to support a family, we barely use 1. We probably use 3/4 of a cord to keep us warm, heat water, and bake. Think of the time, energy, and work saved by reducing your fuel consumption. The annual toll on your body increases if you are older. This morning I split wood for an hour, and I can already feel it (I'm in my 30's). If you have to split 3 cords of wood every year the physical demands can get old quickly.

We were so thankful for the opportunity to collect wood like this, so when the neighbor came over to talk, we explained our living situation, showed him our battery-powered STIHL chainsaw, and told him how small pieces of wood go a long way to keep us warm. He was happy to hear it because, unbeknownst to us, he was in a tough spot wanting to help us out and also promising wood to a friend who needed it too. We told him it was no problem since we only use smaller-diameter firewood anyway. Due to our smaller saw and home heating needs, we don't have to compete with everyone who needs larger 16-18" logs to keep warm. Realizing this was a great feeling because our modest energy needs meant we could save on time, labor, and competition for resources. I think it's safe to say "small" adaptable people will be the ones that thrive in an era of resource scarcity. The crowd, which is allergic to change, will be unable to simplify fast enough to a more modest lifestyle and energy needs. In contrast, those quick and agile to see the writing on the wall will excel the most.

Yesterday's 20-minute haul

Using wood that would typically get discarded (tree branches, small diameter trees, et cetera) means we have zero competition for our wood heat. Plus, the smaller wood is a lot easier to process. For example, it only took CM and me 20 minutes to fill the back of the truck with wood. Another benefit is that the wood does not need six months to dry like "regular" sized logs, and storing it does not take up tons of space in the yard. In the photo below we store the wood under our solar panel system which adds more uses for this support structure.

I cut up the big pieces and split them down

Okay, so you have a 2000-square-foot house, and the smaller wood stoves I recommend wouldn't heat it. I get that. My advice would be to make sure to hyper-insulate your home. That means going for R-60+ in your attic and getting a professional to add closed cell spray foam into wall cavities and flooring.

Keeping you nice and toasty using less energy over the long term

What about closing off certain rooms that rarely get used? If you could get past the horror, you could sell that outdated mega home and move into a smaller, hyper-insulated dwelling that is heated using appropriate technology like a small, well-made wood stove.

I understand that CM's and my lifestyle are not to everyone's fancy, which is perfectly fine. What matters is the mission of simplifying. Every one of us can do that. Tiny homes and small wood stoves may not get you as excited as me, but you can and should adapt to what is happening around us—getting past the mental entitlements is the hardest part. We know because we went through it too. Now that we have simplified many areas in our life, we continue to discover huge benefits like today's topic. Simplifying is not expensive or complex. It means we gain value, time, purpose, and freedom by letting go of an outdated system and embracing the realities of a future of less. That doesn't mean we are dirt-urchins living in a box, either. We are building skills and preparing to tackle the challenges to come. In my next post, I will go into greater detail as to what simplifying means to us and ways you could do it too. If you are simplifying your consumption, what lessons have you learned so far? We would love to hear them.

Tiny wood stove in a converted bus