|To Provide Game the early 19th century homesteader needed the following
A firearm, lead for bullets, a bullet-mold, black-powder, often cloth scraps. The
black-powder could be stored in a specially fitted-out "powder horn" from a cow or
The pioneer also benefited from knowledge of how to make and use traps to catch
|In the 19th Century there were fewer people than there are today, and even greater stretches of
wilderness. Even in "settled" areas, a farmer could have a substantial tract of woodlands.
The forest, woods, or woodlot provided the settler with
leather (deer hide for clothing, moccasins, chair-seats)
Wild Berries and Fruit
Forage for Domestic Animals
Cows, pigs, and goats might roam wild in the woods
House, barn, outbuildings, fences, shingles/shakes, etc.
Cord Wood for Heating
Trenchers (plates), pails, hominy blocks and other wooden-ware
Wood for Furniture
Dyestuffs for Fabric
Materials for Basket-making
|Wood Harvesting & Some Basic Wood-Working Tools
Ax (Felling Ax for cutting trees.) The most easily built wooden house, perhaps,
was the cabin made of rounded logs. Log cabins tended to have spaces between
the logs. If not filled with mud or some similar mixture, they could be quite drafty.
A hewing ax (a broadax) or adze might also be brought to hew, or flatten, the
timbers. Hewn logs tended to fit more closely together.
A wedge or glut and maul might be used to split firewood.
For whittling wooden pegs (used instead of nails) the farmer used his knife.
Some homesteaders might also bring some type of saw. A saw could be used to
make planks for covering a log cabin, or used to build a frame house.
A froe with a home-made mallet split off thick shingles, or shakes, from a block of
Glass for windows was a non-essential item, as were nails. Purchased door
knobs and latches were also non-essentials, as a simple wooden drop-latch fitted
with a leather latch-string would suffice in early cabins.
|HOW MUCH CORD-WOOD? (Modern Homestead)
A cord of wood is 128 cubic feet. Usually this is
considered to be 4 ft. high, 4 ft. wide, and 8 ft. long.
There is no one answer to this, as it depends on a lot of
variables: the type of wood, how seasoned it is, how warm
you want your home, what type of stove or fireplace you
However, just for a guesstimate, this website says that in
1998, people in Vermont who burn wood for fuel used
about 5 cords of wood; other estimates range from 3
cords to 12 cords.
If you want more indepth information and formulas for
calculating firewood needs, you might want to visit this
Cutting and splitting fire-wood took a lot of time.
Since wood was needed for cooking (even in the
heat of summer) and the chimneys were usually not
very efficient, LOTS of firewood was needed.
Kindling is the small sticks of wood or anything
used to help start the fire. Chopping and bringing in
kindling was a good job for a boy.
Every morning someone had to get the fire going.
Sometimes the family banked the fire at night,
covering the embers with ashes to keep them hot,
and closing the stove tightly. Then the fire was ready
to get going again the next morning with a bit of
If the fire went out, or when the stove or fireplace
had to be cleaned, the fire would have to be laid
again and re-lit.
Some people in our part of the country-and maybe
others-used a piece of resin-rich pine as a lighter to
get the fire burning quickly. This "rich pine" burned
hot and fast, but it would leave deposits in your
chimney if burned too often.
|The FROE is basically a metal wedge
with a wooden handle. The worker hit
the top of the metal blade with a heavy
mallet to drive the froe into the wood
and split off shingles or shakes.