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Discussion Starter #1
There needs to be a distinction made in the term ' Living off the land'

In my post I meant living in the wilds with no crop growing and no supplies. Basically to go out with a knife, gun and blanket and stay there.

Living off the land as in farming is a completely different situation. That can be done but only with enough knowledge and EXPERIENCE. If you think you can grab a book and start surviving you are seriously wrong in either scenario. As I said I have lived in the country most of my seventy years and always listened to the old folks talk about how hard it was to get by in hard times or good. The people that haven't tried it have no idea how much work is involved in simply existing on the land. One example is staying warm in the winter. The only way you are going to heat and cook will be with wood. First you have to have the wood available because if you have to transport it any distance you run into a problem. If things are bad enough to warrant such a drastic change in lifestyle then fuel will be very scarce or none existent. Even if you have the trees on your property it will be a problem to transport it to your structure. Then you have to carry it inside. That was one of the jobs that was often left up to the kids and I can assure you the kids hate it. That in itself was a lot of hard work. But to get back to the beginning you have to have a way to cut the trees down and cut them up into stove wood lengths. IF you have a chainsaw and fuel and oil for it you will be very fortunate. If you don't know how to run a chainsaw right you will work yourself to death and get very little wood cut. When you get the tree cut down it is not simply a matter of cutting off chunks of wood. If the tree is lying flat on the ground it has to be raised up enough to cut through it with the chain going through and touching the ground. If you let the chain touch the ground wether it hits a rock or not you ARE going to have to resharpen the chain. You can't cut wood with a dull chain. There is a lot of effort goes into cutting up the tree. Once you have the tree cut up you will have to split the wood. Split wood burns much better and most trees are large enough to require splitting. In order to split wood you have to reach over and set the stick of wood up on end. Generally that means you have to move it also to get it to where you have room to work on it. The best way is to split it with a splitting maul which takes a hefty swing and it can take many hefty swings especially if you are inexperienced which you will be, also as you are taking all those hefty swings you will have to bend over and set the stick of wood back up as it will fall over with each swing most of the time. You will be somewhat winded by then so you will have to rest a minute. Of course there are some sticks that can be split with one strong swing but not many. The stubborn, hard to split sticks will require using splitting wedges which is time consuming and more work. All the time you are splitting the wood you are constantly bending over to lift or position something. And this is just for one stick of wood. No matter what type of conveyance you have you can seldom get it close to the wood because of other trees and brush plus the sticks of wood are strung out all over the place unless you have gone to the time and labor to pile it in a more convenient location. So to load the wood you have to carry it to the truck or whatever or throw it into the truck from a distance which can result in broken out back windows and plenty of dents and lots more expended energy. So then you move it to where you want it either by driving the truck or horses or pushing a wheel barrow or pulling a cart or just carrying it. At that point you have to unload it. You might just throw it in a pile or unload it and rick or stack it up. When you are ready to burn it you have to carry it in and put it in the stove. Big sticks require a bit of strength to do that. Finally you get some heat BUT then you have to take the ashes out of the stove. That sounds easy but consider that you can't take them out with a fire of any size going unless your stove has a separate ash box (highly recommended). The old stoves didn't have one. So you have to let the fire die down which will cause your house to get cold or take them out the first thing in the morning when the fire has died down naturally or as is the case with a sorry stove or you don't know what you are doing the fire has died out completely. Generally the case is that the fire has died down or gone out, the house is cold,(The old time farm houses would be the same temperature as the outside temperature) you have to crawl out of hopefully a warm bed, get the ash bucket and shovel, rake the coals aside if you are lucky enough to have any and take the ashes out. Few people, myself included could do that without spilling ashes and coals all over and creating an ash dust cloud when you empty the shovel into the bucket. If you try to take them out with too big a fire going you are going to get lots of live coals which will burn anything they touch which in my case meant the floor or floor covering plus your face and hands are getting scorched. You then rake whatever coals might be left into a pile or start from scratch with nothing and pile up some kindling then pile up some bit larger sticks then some larger wood. Hopefully it will start from that if everything is dry, if not it takes a lot more effort. When you finally do get the fire going it might heat the house back up in a couple of hours. Sometimes you will get up early so you can do all that and get back in bed till the house starts to warm. What happens most of the time is that in order to get the fire going you will have the draft and damper wide open but when the fire really gets going you have to get back up and shut it down a little to keep from burning the house down. The area around the stove is hot and the rest of the house gets progressively cooler the further you get from the stove. If it is really cold in the house or you just came in from a really cold outside temperature then you have to stand close to the stove but constantly turn as your front side gets too hot and your back side is too cold.

The old timers said 'wood heats you twice, 'when you cut it and when you burn it' as far as I'm concerned it will heat you more times than that.

The wood and heat situation is only a tiny part of living off the land. More later.
 

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Roger that. "Living off the land" as in eating grubs and weeds long term IS a fantasy for MOST of us (myself included).

Homesteading- i.e, living ON the land is a different story. Yes it also takes years of experience, skill and practice. We are pushing 9 years now and still have so much to learn. A little at a time, try something new here and there. Use books as a general reference if you have to, but shoot for practical instruction where you possibly can.

The thing to avoid is the misconception that you can just show up at your retreat and go into self sufficiency mode in a few weeks with no experience. That's a major misconception. Unfortunately you can't buy experience, you have to spend the blood, sweat and tears learning the hard way.

You can either do it now, when you can AFFORD mistakes, or you can try to do "on the job training" when there will be NO ROOM FOR ERROR :eek:

As for me and my house, well this is one of the reasons we live at our homestead full time.

Lowdown3
 

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Wild Edibles Expert
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We had two wood stoves when the Elms died nationally. Elm twists when it grows. Free elm really wasn't true. It took months of work to size and split it. There's a huge amount of young men here who think a gun, a knife and an unread book is all they need to survive in the woods. It would be wrong to call them idiots. First-to-die would be more accurate.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
The biggest mistakes I see is that the new comer doesn't want to listen to the natives. A lot of them are going to show the locals how to do it. And most of the time when they do listen they listen to the wrong people.
 

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One of the Frozen Chosen
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I grew up with 5 siblings in a very old drafty farmhouse...in the winter my mom would have us line up and get warm on all sides in front of the fire then walk really fast thru the house...With 6 of us we made a pretty good job of circulating the warm air. Pretty smart Mom, we were warm AND useful on a cold day when we couldn't go outside :) Good info on on the minutiae of using wood...getting, cutting, burning. Thanks for the post!
 

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Improvise Adapt Overcome!
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There needs to be a distinction made in the term ' Living off the land'

In my post I meant living in the wilds with no crop growing and no supplies. Basically to go out with a knife, gun and blanket and stay there.

Living off the land as in farming is a completely different situation. That can be done but only with enough knowledge and EXPERIENCE. If you think you can grab a book and start surviving you are seriously wrong in either scenario. As I said I have lived in the country most of my seventy years and always listened to the old folks talk about how hard it was to get by in hard times or good. The people that haven't tried it have no idea how much work is involved in simply existing on the land. One example is staying warm in the winter. The only way you are going to heat and cook will be with wood. First you have to have the wood available because if you have to transport it any distance you run into a problem. If things are bad enough to warrant such a drastic change in lifestyle then fuel will be very scarce or none existent. Even if you have the trees on your property it will be a problem to transport it to your structure. Then you have to carry it inside. That was one of the jobs that was often left up to the kids and I can assure you the kids hate it. That in itself was a lot of hard work. But to get back to the beginning you have to have a way to cut the trees down and cut them up into stove wood lengths. IF you have a chainsaw and fuel and oil for it you will be very fortunate. If you don't know how to run a chainsaw right you will work yourself to death and get very little wood cut. When you get the tree cut down it is not simply a matter of cutting off chunks of wood. If the tree is lying flat on the ground it has to be raised up enough to cut through it with the chain going through and touching the ground. If you let the chain touch the ground wether it hits a rock or not you ARE going to have to resharpen the chain. You can't cut wood with a dull chain. There is a lot of effort goes into cutting up the tree. Once you have the tree cut up you will have to split the wood. Split wood burns much better and most trees are large enough to require splitting. In order to split wood you have to reach over and set the stick of wood up on end. Generally that means you have to move it also to get it to where you have room to work on it. The best way is to split it with a splitting maul which takes a hefty swing and it can take many hefty swings especially if you are inexperienced which you will be, also as you are taking all those hefty swings you will have to bend over and set the stick of wood back up as it will fall over with each swing most of the time. You will be somewhat winded by then so you will have to rest a minute. Of course there are some sticks that can be split with one strong swing but not many. The stubborn, hard to split sticks will require using splitting wedges which is time consuming and more work. All the time you are splitting the wood you are constantly bending over to lift or position something. And this is just for one stick of wood. No matter what type of conveyance you have you can seldom get it close to the wood because of other trees and brush plus the sticks of wood are strung out all over the place unless you have gone to the time and labor to pile it in a more convenient location. So to load the wood you have to carry it to the truck or whatever or throw it into the truck from a distance which can result in broken out back windows and plenty of dents and lots more expended energy. So then you move it to where you want it either by driving the truck or horses or pushing a wheel barrow or pulling a cart or just carrying it. At that point you have to unload it. You might just throw it in a pile or unload it and rick or stack it up. When you are ready to burn it you have to carry it in and put it in the stove. Big sticks require a bit of strength to do that. Finally you get some heat BUT then you have to take the ashes out of the stove. That sounds easy but consider that you can't take them out with a fire of any size going unless your stove has a separate ash box (highly recommended). The old stoves didn't have one. So you have to let the fire die down which will cause your house to get cold or take them out the first thing in the morning when the fire has died down naturally or as is the case with a sorry stove or you don't know what you are doing the fire has died out completely. Generally the case is that the fire has died down or gone out, the house is cold,(The old time farm houses would be the same temperature as the outside temperature) you have to crawl out of hopefully a warm bed, get the ash bucket and shovel, rake the coals aside if you are lucky enough to have any and take the ashes out. Few people, myself included could do that without spilling ashes and coals all over and creating an ash dust cloud when you empty the shovel into the bucket. If you try to take them out with too big a fire going you are going to get lots of live coals which will burn anything they touch which in my case meant the floor or floor covering plus your face and hands are getting scorched. You then rake whatever coals might be left into a pile or start from scratch with nothing and pile up some kindling then pile up some bit larger sticks then some larger wood. Hopefully it will start from that if everything is dry, if not it takes a lot more effort. When you finally do get the fire going it might heat the house back up in a couple of hours. Sometimes you will get up early so you can do all that and get back in bed till the house starts to warm. What happens most of the time is that in order to get the fire going you will have the draft and damper wide open but when the fire really gets going you have to get back up and shut it down a little to keep from burning the house down. The area around the stove is hot and the rest of the house gets progressively cooler the further you get from the stove. If it is really cold in the house or you just came in from a really cold outside temperature then you have to stand close to the stove but constantly turn as your front side gets too hot and your back side is too cold.

The old timers said 'wood heats you twice, 'when you cut it and when you burn it' as far as I'm concerned it will heat you more times than that.

The wood and heat situation is only a tiny part of living off the land. More later.
Reply]
My GOD Man!! Paragraphs PLEASE!!!
 

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My great grandparents, grandparents, and mom and uncle have lived there and worked the fields and livestock on our family farm since 1918. It’s nice to be able to walk the fields, pastures, and barn, knowing I am walking in my ancestors’ footsteps. The farm is 200 years old, and as such, was heated by wood burning stoves. This remained the key heating implement up until thirty years ago when an oil burner was installed. My uncle presently lives and runs the farm with the help of a hired hand. Having had parents who grew up during the Great Depression, many of the “saving money” values have carried over to my uncle and mother. Even with an easy to use heating system, my uncle only uses wood burning stoves to heat the house. While it is cheap heating, it does not come without the cost of physical labor and time for finding and processing the firewood. All of the wood he acquires comes from the community, whereby trees have fallen during various storms. His neighbors are more than happy to have him come collect the wood. However, in a true SHTF scenario, this would not be very practical, as he would be at the mercy of gasoline to fuel his truck. It would be very difficult to transport enough winter fire wood over several miles back to the farm. Processing the wood also takes a lot of physical stamina to stand there for several hours a day swinging axes and hitting the splitting wedges with heavy sledge hammers. Even though the hired hand is in his late 50s, there is not an ounce of fat on his body and his arms are pure muscle from years of doing this.
 

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Behind Enemy Lines
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You've got to remember that I'm an ignorant, redneck hillbilly. Actually my neck is only dark pink.
heh. I am sure you were "in the zone" when typing. I know sometimes I blast out a lot of words and have not even looked up to see what it looks like. ;)
 

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I don't give a damn if I use paragraphs or not.


Seriously, it makes a post difficult to read. Folks who write difficult to read posts tend to get skipped over. Isn't the whole point of writing a post having others read them? Doesn't matter if it's a rant, a question, an answer or some advice from someone who's been down that road before. If others just pass em by then you may as well go back to yelling at the walls.
 

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Homesteading- i.e, living ON the land is a different story.
Lowdown3
+100 Lowdown!

In general our society has a tendency to strive to live OFF lots of things.

It is thru living in harmony with ma nature that we begin to become more self sustaining.

I am no tree hugger or bunny cuddler, BUT do spend allot of time trying to step away from being a mindless consumer and walk toward being a steward of my little chunck of the world and the community as well.
 
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