Making do with what you have

How hard is it to make do with what you already have? To take advantages of resources readily available to you?

We burn fires in our fire pit quite a bit throughout the year, which means that I am always scouring the yard for firewood. I ran out last winter and started a search for someone who could delivery a decent amount at a reasonable price. Once I figured out how much a 1/4 or 1/2 cord of wood would cost, I started wondering if I could just get the wood myself out of our yard for the same price. The answer? Yeah, pretty much.

firewood2I went to the orange behemoth and bought a pole saw and their cheapest electric chainsaw for a total of around $80, which was about what the amount of wood I wanted would cost me. The chainsaw had excellent reviews online, and it lived up to expectations. It made quick work of even 1′ diameter logs. I went around the yard cutting down limbs that were damaged in storms, cutting up a couple of trees that had fallen in storms, and gathering all the branches that had fallen in recent months. Once I piled up the larger pieces, I had quite a bit, and I wasn’t even close to gathering all of the potential wood in our yard. Our yard is not very large at a little under an acre, so I was quite surprised at how much firewood was just sitting around on the ground or hanging dead off of trees.

firewood1There were even more small branches. A recent nasty thunderstorm with high winds had knocked down a small tree in our yard and a huge pine in a neighbor’s yard, which littered the ground with tons of branches. Add in the branches that had fallen off of the still living trees and we had a massive pile of branches sitting on our patio when they were all gathered together. One of these days, I’ll actually take the time to break the branches down into smaller, more fire pit friendly sizes. The picture to the left was only about half of the branches that we collected.

firewood3How about stuff to start a fire? If you are unlucky enough to have pine trees in your yard (I HATE southern pine trees), then you know that each tree drops approximately ten trillion pine cones on the ground every single day. Pine cones make great fire starters, so I gathered up a large bin of them, spread them out on the patio to dry in the sun, then put them back in the bin and covered it up to keep they dry and ready to use to start fires. By the time I use them up, I will have about a quadrillion more in the yard to pick up and dry out for next year. For trees that produces so many things I like and use (fatwood, pine cones, pine straw, pine bark, dimensional lumber, etc.), pine trees sure are a pain when they are on my property.

I swear I had a point to all this! Before you go and spend money on something, take a look at what you already have and see if you can make it work for you. Sure, I didn’t have a chainsaw or a pole saw before, but I needed them anyway to cut down trees and limbs that were threatening the house and couldn’t find anyone to borrow them from. As a bonus, I will probably never have to buy firewood.

I am not an economy doom and gloom kind of person, but I know that many people’s wallets are tight these days. My wife and I are putting most of our money back into my business, which means less money available for other things.  Be creative and figure out ways to make do with what you have. Unless, of course, you are planning on buying something from me. Then please, spend away.