By John A. Heatherly, Author of The Survival Template
photo by jennaddenda
Early Spring can bring spectactular Family time! The following tricks for finding and gathering dry firewood are extraordinarily practical and work great when approached as “games” that children and parents can play together.
1. “Squaw Wood” – Though the term Squaw Wood is sometimes in question, generally this refers to dry branches that can be found at the bases of evergreen trees. The boughs and uppers branches of the trees tend to protect the Squaw Wood from rain, making it an excellent choice for kindling. One game, that works especially well in a predominately deciduous forest, is to have children scan the hillsides for evergreen trees. From a distance they stand out really well. Dry Squaw Wood can normally be found there.
2. Pitch Stumps – Pine stumps often consist of hardened sap, called Pitch or Fatlighter, which is highly flammable. Any easy way to find the Pitchwood is to simply kick a stump. Once the rotten wood falls away, the Pitchwood normally remains, as it is much stronger. I like to make shavings from the Pitchwood to use as tinder. Often it can be split into kindling as well. Once children start to look for these stumps as a game, they will start to notice them everyone, even when they are not looking for Pitch specifically. *Of course, supervision is necessary if children are using cutting tools as part of the game.
3. Cedar Stumps – These are sought for ease of use. Cedar is very easy to split into kindling, and long pieces work well for making shavings for tinder.
4. “Standing Dead” – The split wood of standing-but-dead trees is a great place to find dry firewood (assuming the top of the tree is not broken and hollow to allow water to seep in.) This technique is more advanced, as a saw, ax, or large knife is often needed to split into the wood. Again, fine shavings can be used for tinder, with long, thin pieces being used for kindling.
The ability to find firewood is a valuable skill, and the “games” listed above will help you and your children to hone the skill. The warm fire at the end of the game is the best reward!
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