“Erin Bried can build a fire, thanks to grandpa.”—USA Today
“A step-by-step guide to (almost) everything the hard-working, self-sufficient Greatest Generation learned about life and living.”—Chicago Tribune
“Don’t pass up How to Build a Fire…
it’s [full of] knowledge our grandfathers seem to possess in abundance – life skills that made them such stand-up guys.”—The Houston Chronicle
“How To Build a Fire
is fascinating, humbling and humorous.”—The Chicago Sun-Times
“Erin Bried can help you nail certain tasks.”—The New York Daily News
“How to Build a Fire
is a succinct life-skills book filled with humor and wisdom…useful for both men and women….It’s a quick, useful guide with a touch of nostalgia.”—Library Journal
“How to Build a Fire
takes readers back to basics by championing more than 100 practical life skills. All of them are guaranteed for life, but are especially valuable during an economic recession.”—Book Page
“How to Build a Fire
offers sound advice on manual jobs and also gives lessons on more subtle skills.”—Boston Globe
“How to Build a Fire
makes a lovely stocking stuffer by a roaring fire.”—SELF magazine
“Our elders could still teach us a lot—and you’ll find it all in How to Build a Fire
by Erin Bried. It demystifies stuff like making ice cream (yay!) and playing dominoes. Your kids will think you’re the coolest.”—Parenting magazine
“Although her book touches on the sacrifices of the “Greatest Generation,” Bried’s How to Build a Fire
is a companion piece to Tom Brokaw’s 1998 book. The former newscaster’s book lauds the efforts of the people who grew up during the Depression and saved the world by winning World War II. Bried’s book acknowledges those efforts – eight of the 10 grandfathers served in the war – but she lets them teach lessons big and small.”—Stockton Record
“How to Build a Fire
is a practical guide to all those things you always meant to learn, from breaking in a baseball mitt to writing a love letter — and being a role model for your kids.”—St Petersburg Times
“How many times have you wished your grandfather were still around to give you some priceless advice?”—Tulsa World
“…Fun to read. More importantly, it’s the perfect gift, birthday or otherwise, for grandchildren of any age, or even their parents! After all, you can only learn just so much on the Internet.”—Monterey County Herald
“If How to Build a Fire
is anything like How to Sew a Button
, then it will be a great gift for any young adult in your life, male or female. Because honestly, we should all know how to sew on a button and build a fire. Just in case…”—Frederick News Post
Begin by knowing your way around your kingdom. That way, you'll always be warm, safe, happy, and well fed wherever you go.
"Talk to plants, and they will grow. Life without love, for all living things, is nothing. If you give love to something, it will reciprocate. That's how we are as humans, too."
How to Plant a Tree
Step 1: Choose the right tree. Consider not only its size, speed of growth, shape, and looks, but also its hardiness. It should be native to your area and strong enough to weather the hottest and coldest temperatures, and all the sunshine and rain you may or may not get. Other things to think about: Will your tree lose its leaves every year (and do you really want to rake them)? Does it bear fruit (and if so, will you eat it or curse it when it's smushed on the bottom of your shoe)?
Step 2: Find a good spot. Look up, look down, look all around and make sure your tree will have plenty of space to thrive. Your tree may look small now, but it won't be for very long, and if you plant a soon-to- be-big sucker right next to your house or directly under utility lines, you'll be paying for that bad decision for years to come. Also, a no-brainer: Before digging any holes, call your local utility company to make sure you're clear of any underground cables.
Step 3: Dig a hole. A well-planted tree will grow faster and live longer than a poorly planted tree, so take care to do it right. Using a shovel, dig a big ol' bowl-shaped hole as deep as the tree's roots (or root-ball) and at least twice as wide. The hole will most certainly look bigger than you think it needs to be, but the roots need that extra room to grow. Don't slack on the digging.
Step 4: Measure up. Place your tree in the hole and see if it's deep enough. If it's just right, proceed to step 5. If it's too deep, put some soil back. If it's too shallow, go have a lemonade. Then come back and keep digging.
Step 5: Position your tree. It should stand upright in the center of the hole. If your tree comes in a container, tap the pot to gently remove it, being careful not to rip the trunk from the roots. If your tree comes with its roots wrapped in burlap, plunk the whole thing in the pit and carefully remove the burlap, along with any twine, wire, nails, or staples.
Step 6: Fill the hole. Replace the soil you removed, packing it down firmly around the roots. You'll want your tree pit to catch water, so make sure your tree grows from the pit's deepest point. Then look for a little bulge at the base of your tree's trunk. It's called the root collar, and you want your soil to snuggle its bottom only. If you can't see your tree's collar, it may be planted too deep.
Step 7: Add water. Give the ground a good soak.
Step 8: Spread mulch (wood chips or bark) around your tree a couple of inches deep. It'll help keep the soil warm and moist, prevent weeds and erosion, and just make the whole thing look nice.
Step 9: Feel proud. Not only do trees help beautify the world, but they also help you save on energy costs, improve your water and air quality, give a home to songbirds, boost your property value, and fight global warming. Take good care of it by watering it once a week and pruning only dead or broken branches.
More Handy Tips:
To find the best trees for your area, enter your zip code at ArborDay.org and get all the information you've ever dreamed of. Better yet, join the Arbor Day Foundation for ten dollars, and you'll receive ten free trees of your choice. Seriously.
If you're planting a sapling with naked roots, remove any packaging and soak the roots in a bucket of water for up to six hours before planting.
If you're planting a tree that came in a pot and the roots look tangled once they're free, use a utility knife and make an X on the bottom of the root-ball and a vertical line down each side.
"By the time I was six, I was splitting wood. Make sure you've got it lined up right and then go from there. It's not about muscle. The ax will do the work for you, but you can help it a little bit. If you're lucky, you'll hit it and have two pieces of wood. Usually, it takes a few blows. And don't cut your feet!"
How to Split Firewood
Step 1: Dress appropriately. Wear safety goggles, leather work gloves, steel-toed boots, and a plaid flannel shirt, if you've got one. The first three items will help protect you from harm, while the last one will make you look butch. You'll also need a maul, which is basically a fatter version of an ax built specifically for splitting wood vertically, as opposed to chopping across it. (Axes will work, too, but because they're slimmer, they tend to get stuck in the wood more often, and that's just frustrating.)
Step 2: Set a twelve- to eighteen-inch log on end on a raised, flat wooden surface about fourteen inches tall. The perfect chopping block: a sawed-off tree stump. Your second-best option: on the soft ground. You may have to wrest your maul from the depths of the dirt sometimes, but that'll only help you build stronger muscles. Never ever split wood on pavement, or you and anybody in your vicinity will get hurt. Flying shards of steel? Not fun.
Step 3: Get in position, and eyeball where you'd like to split the wood. Cracks are nature's way of helping you along, so take advantage of them. Once you've focused on your target, place the sharp edge of your maul on it and, with your arms fully extended, grip the end of the handle with both hands. Step back a few inches so you're slightly reaching, and plant your feet shoulder-width apart.
Step 4: Prepare to strike. Pick up your maul and hold it parallel to the ground, across the front of your body, blade facing away from you. Place your weak hand at the base of the handle, palm facing down, and your dominant hand closer to the head, palm facing up. Grunt for good measure.
Step 5: Swing deep. Slightly bend your knees, and then raise your maul overhead with your arms extended, allowing your dominant hand to slide to the base of the handle. Keeping your eye on your target, swing your maul in a downward motion to meet the wood. Find the grace in the movement. Every woodsman knows that technique (and gravity) counts more than brute strength.
Step 6: Repeat as necessary. Maybe it'll take one good crack, maybe more. Just keep hitting your log in the same place until it splits. Then keep going until you have your desired amount of splits. Save the little pieces, too. They make great kindling.
Step 7: Stack 'em up and let 'em dry. If it's new wood, it'll be ready to burn in about nine months. If it's already seasoned, it's ready to burn now.
More Handy Tips
Knotty, gnarly, or curvy wood can be tough to split. Save those pieces for last or, better yet, just use them for decoration.
To gain more momentum in your swing, rise up on your toes before dropping your maul.
If your maul does get stuck, keep a few steel wedges nearby and tap them into the wood with a little sledgehammer. That'll usually be enough to split the log into pieces and free your tool.
Always remember, the best cure for a hot head and a cold house: splitting wood. Do it as often as necessary.
"We used to go camping when I was a boy. We'd put a lean-to in our packs and head out and live off the country for three or four days. If you spend a night in the woods and you don't know how to build a fire, you're going to be cold."
How to Build a Fire
Step 1: Find a good spot. Look for a clearing, one that's far away from houses, trees, roots, and overhanging branches and also sheltered from the wind. Then clear a circle about three feet across, brush or dig out the center so it's slightly concave, and place big, dry rocks around the edge.
Step 2: Gather your supplies: matches, tinder (twigs, dried grasses and leaves, newspaper, and so on), kindling (sticks smaller than your wrist), two or three dry, split, seasoned logs about twelve to eighteen inches long, and a pail of water (or sand or dirt) for safety.
Step 3: Build a tepee-shaped blaze. Just toss your tinder into the center, leaving space for oxygen to circulate around it. Stand your smallest pieces of kindling on end to form a pyramid over your tinder. Repeat with three or four larger pieces of kindling. Then, without knocking the whole thing over, hold your breath and very gently lean a couple of logs on top. Exhale.
Step 4: Strike a match, light your tinder, and watch it all go up in flames, just as you'd hoped. Once the fire really gets roaring, the logs will topple over the hot coals to keep burning. Add more logs as needed, being careful you don't smother the flames.
Step 5: Get out your s'more fixin's and let the ghost stories begin. Did you hear the one about the guy with a hook for a hand? What about the girl with the ribbon around her neck? Come to think of it, who is that standing behind that tree?
More Handy Tips
If there's not a lot of tinder around, you might have to get creative. Try dried pine needles, pieces of papery birch bark, a fallen bird's nest (pulled apart), or even the fluff from a cattail (ahem, the kind that grows in wetlands, not the kind that is connected to your neighbor's kitty). Pine pitch (or sap) will always light, even on wet days. So will a cotton ball swabbed with Vaseline.
To identify good fire logs, knock two together. If you hear a clunk, they're ready to burn. If you hear a thud, they're probably still too wet to do anything but smoke you out.
Never build your fire on top of rocks, and never toss rocks into it, either. Hot rocks can explode, possibly causing harm to anyone nearby.
Never leave an unattended fire burning. Always, always put it out, using water, sand, or dirt.
To prevent your matches from getting wet, dip their tips in wax and store them in an empty film canister.
No matches? Build a fire plow. Find a piece of soft wood ...