The case study described here is our own farm - located at 6800 feet above sea level, in dry climate (around 7" annual precipitation) with long cold winters and very hot summers. A lot must be said here and now about house design - before we attempt to keep a dwelling livable, we really need to answer some questions about its suitability to the climate in which it is built. Sustainable woodlot is, in the ideal world, attached to a sustainable house! A house that is designed to function in its climate. For dry cold mountain desert climate, where we are trying to keep cold and heat out for most of the year, we go with "Super-insulated envelope (walls, roof, windows, doors - and floors!)" - in our case it is strawbale exterior walls. The next task is to have good enough thermo-mass in the house - something dense that can maintain desirable temperature in house. Cement (or brick) floors, adobe walls store heat - which means that when we burn our own home-grown firewood, we are investing the heat into the house, and not into the atmosphere. A well-designed burning device is the next component to ponder - a masonry woodstove is absolutely fantastic for superior performance and efficiency if you are building your house from scratch.
|A stack of elm kindling/sticks - this is one has gone through the goat pen first! The leaves were stripped by the goats, converted into milk. The woody remnants are cut into smaller pieces for winter heating.|
|Goats eat green twigs first, and later the twigs move on to their firewood re-incarnation.|
|Late spring, and the outdoor twig storage is quickly replenished - the structure against the house on the left is a nature altar of sorts, and a firewood stack at the same time.|