By: Blonde Two

Ever since Mr B2 and I installed our wood burner (we didn’t do it ourselves) we have done our very best not to pay for our firewood. It is surprising when you look into it, where firewood can come from. We have had ours:

  • In exchange for fixing computers
  • From a lovely carpenter friend
  • From another lovely carpenter friend
  • From old pallets and furniture
  • From the local woods

On Saturday I had been writing all day and by 3 o’clock in the afternoon I really felt like I needed a bit of Get Outside time, so I decided to walk up to our local copse and collect some firewood. Collecting firewood from actual woodland is perhaps an unusual occupation these days, but I find it most rewarding, not only does it give a girl fresh air and exercise, but it also gives her a satisfyingly full wood basket. Here are my top tips for a bit of girly wood collection:

1. Choose your saw, I always go for a folding pruning saw as it is easy to carry and cuts on both the downward and upward pulls.
2. Wear some old clothes and boots. You are bound to end up resting something mucky on your knees and most woods have mud as well as trees.
3. Take a bag. An old Ikea bag is my favourite as it will only hold as much wood as I can carry and has over-the-shoulder straps to take the weight.
4. Consider gloves. These are not strictly necessary and you won’t be cold once you get working, but work gloves protect your hands from spikes and scrapes.
5. Check that you are allowed to gather wood. Obvious places to avoid are owned woodland, managed woodland, private gardens, wildlife areas, some moorland and private beaches.
7. Understand the different Rights of Common, don’t get your estovers (wood) muddled up with your pannage (grazing on acorns) and remember that turbary can still be illegal!
6. Don’t clamber up somewhere you can’t get back down with a bag full of wood. I did this once and came home with a very muddy bottom!
7. Only take dead wood from the floor. Greenwood is not suitable for your wood burner or open fire and damaging trees is a definite no-no.
8. Don’t take wood that has already been cut and/or stacked. Wood is sometimes stacked for later removal or to create wildlife habitats; if you haven’t cut it, leave it alone.
9. Choose smaller pieces of wood to start with. My favourites are those that are about two inches across; big enough to give my arm a workout and burn for a reasonable amount of time, but small enough to saw through satisfyingly quickly.
10. Find a makeshift ‘workbench’, usually a larger fallen tree trunk.
11. Say ‘hello’ to the robin, there almost always is one.
12. Have an idea of how big your wood burner or fireplace is. It can be very frustrating having to saw the wood again when you come to use it.
13. Don’t be surprised if you start to sweat and get a bit of back or arm ache. It’s called exercise!
14. Take some time to sit and enjoy the environment in which you find yourself. I particularly enjoy the birdsong you always hear in woodland.
15. Go home and enjoy your fire. Don’t, however, try to burn the wood you have just collected. It will be damp and, as you don’t know when it parted from the tree, should probably be left for a few months first.

I have a theory about wood gathering and fire making; it must surely have been the women who did both of these things while their men were off hunter-gathering… which is why we girls are so good at lighting fires!