Prepare, Sustain, Thrive and Survive Simply

Primitive fuel for the fire

Slash left over from cleaning up the woods

A precept of successful radical rural simplicity is being resourceful with whatever is lying around in the environment. Using such things is a way to express thanks to the universe for what is at hand. Resourcefulness is also a good thing to practice for when there are shortages, outages, or the System otherwise unravels, also known as a shtf scenario.

For years now, I’ve been snapping and sawing the little branches and twigs in slash piles and stacking them into neat rows of firewood. People who are just after the logs think I’m crazy because the small stuff is a waste of time to them. Just torch it, they say.

I believe we’re on this planet to enjoy and take care of it, and not to waste too much stuff — even little branches and twigs. My time is precious as well, and there is the law of diminishing returns. But think about the time people enthusiastically waste on a variety of trivial and vainglorious pursuits. I know that processing something considered waste will be very appreciated later on. It’s a meditative activity, and being active outside is a healthy thing to do.

This wood from slash piles comes in handy

After several years of doing this, my son and I took a trip to Germany, where I was born. (I’m a national, not an “army brat”). We hiked along some of the many public trails that lead through the countryside from one town to another. I felt vindicated upon seeing wood piles made up of limbs and twigs, just like mine, along the way.

As a former city girl learning the ins and outs of rural voluntary simplicity, I often discovered that a method I used to do things had been practiced by my ancestors. Once the trappings of modern society faded into the background, genetic memory started to kick in. I hadn’t experienced genetic memory until I took the space in time to follow my instincts and freely experiment with ways of simple living.

There are cultures today, where poor women have no choice but to walk a full day just to reach a source of firewood. They stay there and gather it for another day, then spend a day hauling bundles of limbs home on their backs. I feel very fortunate to have so much of this free fuel steps away.

Every time I need to heat water for dishes, laundry, and bathing, I am very thankful for my stash of little wood. With it, I can meet necessities without the intervention of a power company, and I save money and non-renewable resources. Instead of uselessly heating the great outdoors by torching slash piles and releasing carbon into the atmosphere for no good reason, the fire is put to good use.

Heating dish water with free wood from slash pile

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