Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Those stinkin pallets

Here at Butternut Farm we receive a lot of stuff on pallets! Those pallets seem to accumulate over time and I've finally found what to do with them.

At first you start stacking them behind the barn. Then the stack gets moved "Out Back" where it is out of sight. Eventually though the ever growing stack of pallets starts to wear on you and a solution must be found. They are handy in helping the yearly brush pile to burn! This seems kinda wasteful though unless of course the pallet is "Beyond Repair". So the old rotten ones are tossed in the brush pile to burn but we are still left with the good ones! There must be a use?

The answer came one day during the pick your own apple season a couple of years ago. Todd Scruton was visiting the farm with his family and we got to talking about firewood. Now anyone who has ever used wood as a source of heat knows that it must be moved way to many times before it gets moved into the woodstove, and each move is almost always done manually. Todd said to me: "Gee Giff you have plenty of pallets and a tractor with a set of pallet forks, why not devise a way to use the pallets to store and move your firewood around". Seemed simple enough and it could save at least one if not two "moves" of the wood. So I figured I would give it a shot!

3 years later I have finally come up with a design which seems to be working. The first two evolutions of this design were prone to blowouts which always seemed to occur while moving the pallet full of wood. Nothing like stacking it twice onto the same pallet! The most recent design involves using slats from one pallet which is ripped apart (more on that later), to build a combinations of braces which hold the 3'*3'*4' stack of firewood on the pallet. The only thing is those stinkin pallets are hard to take apart! Talk about questioning if your using your time wisely or not. Taking apart pallets to generate the pile of slats necessary to build the braces is very time consuming. I often thought maybe it would be more economically feasible to just buy some strapping from the home depot to build the braces with? However for the sake of using the resources I had without spending money on bringing more stuff onto the farm I decided I would continue to tear apart the pallets for my source of slats. Turns out too that the pallet slats hold up better over time because they are made of hardwood, while the construction strappin which is made of pine falls apart very easily when exposed to the elements.

When all the dust has settled our pile of pallets is no more and with the advice of one of our customers and some stubborn desire to "find a better way", we have eliminated one manual move of the wood. Was it all worth it? I think so.

The snow covered firewood was processed in January and is now seasoning for the upcoming heating season of 2012/13. The other photo shows wood which was processed last winter and is now staying dry in the barn ready to burn.