Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Time to Stock Up on Firewood

The chill in the air and a dusting of snow makes all of us in Santa Fe start dreaming of that first fire of the season. And then reality hits…the wood pile is empty. Time to prepare to cut and gather firewood. But before you go, we have some advice on the where to go, which trees to select, and how much wood to harvest. Knowing this information can help you harvest inexpensive fuel while improving the health of the forest. 

1.     Cut Where It Is Allowed - Unless you are cutting on your own property, you need permission from the landowner or a permit to cut in New Mexico BLM land.
2.     Cut Close To Home - If you must drive more than 75 miles to reach the woodlot, your transportation costs may make the firewood more expensive than other fuels.
3.     Avoid Fragile Sites - In some locations, living trees are more valuable than the wood that could be obtained by felling them. For example, windbreak, stream-bank, and hillside forests are essential to soil and water conservation. Consult your state forester before you thin trees in such areas.
4.     Cut in Spring - Wood must be seasoned before it will burn properly. It seasons most quickly during the hot, dry days of summer, and only after it has been cut from the stump. The wood that you plan to use in late fall should therefore be cut no later than the previous spring.
5.     Cut Diseased Trees - To preserve the vigor of healthy trees, it is desirable to remove trees that have contagious diseases or serious insect infestations.
6.     Cut Damaged Trees - Trees that have poor stems or small crowns and those that have been damaged by lightning, past logging practices, wind, insects, or grazing should be salvaged for fire wood. Such trees will not usually become more attractive with age, nor will they increase in value for timber.
7.     Thin and Prune - Thinning is the cutting of selected trees to reduce overall tree density. Thinning improves the growth conditions for the remaining trees and should be considered when the the trees are 15 to 25 years old. Pruning is the removal of the lower branches so that the tree will produce clear, high-grade lumber or veneer logs. Pruning should start when the trees are 4 inches in diameter.
8.     Protect the Terrain – Leave your vehicle on established roads & carry wood to your vehicle.  Tires ruts can last for years and lead to harmful soil erosion.
9.     Take Safety Precautions – Hand & power saws are sharp; wear proper clothing and use ear and eye protection. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Why Every Drip Irrigation System Needs a Pressure Regulator

Homeowners frequently ask why we recommend a pressure regulator on every drip system.  “I have lots of pressure at my house so why should I spend an extra $10-$15 for some pressure reducer thingie?” There’s a very good reason why a pressure reducer should part of every drip irrigation system.

      House Water Pressure Versus Drip System Water Pressure
Water pressure in Santa Fe homes is generally between 60 and 110 pounds.  However,
drip irrigation systems are designed to operate accurately at between 30 and 15 pounds of pressure. Drippers and sprayers emit the correct amount of water only between these pressures, and the tubing and fittings are designed for this pressure range.

Excess pressure can cause fittings to come loose or pop off, emitters to put out too much water, and sprayers to produce a mist that blows away.

             Can’t I Just Open The Faucet Part Way To Keep The Pressure Down?

In a word, NO!  Water pressure and water volume are two interrelated but different measurements. When the faucet only open part way, the gallons per minute is reduced, but the pressure behind it is still the same 60 pounds. Instead of 5 to 9 gallons per minute at 60 pounds, you will just have 2 to 4 gallons per minute at 60 pounds. Therefore, once the line in the yard fills with water, the pressure inside the line will still be close to 60 pounds.  To hold back the water with your hand over the end of the faucet, you would still have to apply the same 60 pounds of pressure to stop the water.

If there are enough drip emitters and sprayers on the line to use up the reduced gallons, then turning the faucet down will result in “starving” of some of your emitters. Without enough water in the line to serve all the emitters, some plants will not get the water you were expecting them to receive.

                                    The Right Way Is Always The Best Way

Use a pressure regulator to reduce water pressure down to the range that the system is designed for.  Operate your drip system with the faucet all the way open to insure enough flow to serve all the emitters on the line.

Keep in mind that even though a fully open faucet can flow up to 300gph, you will only use as much water as your emitters call for.  50 two gallon emitters will only use 100 gallons per hour.

The Firebird carries a full selection of pressure regulators to meet any need.  We offer professional grade pressure regulators by Senninger Irrigation, a global supplier of irrigation tools for agriculture, mining, dairy, effluent, and wastewater industries.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Simple Tips To Keep Grilling Safe and Fun

Summer is right around the corner. The days are getting longer and the evening getting warmer. It’s grilling season. Whether you’re grilling traditional hot dogs and burgers, or trying to grill a pizza, it’s important to employ cautionary techniques in order to keep you and your loved ones safe.

Universal Tips

  •   Always use propane and charcoal grills outside of the house.
  •  Place your grill away from your home, and pull it out from under the eaves.
  •  Make sure children and pets are away from the grilling area until you’re done cooking        and the grill cools down.
  •  Remove grease and fat buildups from the grills and collection trays every time you cook
  •  Never, EVER leave your grill unattended for any reason.
  •  Before you use your grill for the first time each year, thoroughly check inside for critters that may have taken up residence over the winter.

Charcoal Grills

  •  ONLY charcoal starter fluid to start your grill – do NOT add other types of flammable liquid to the flame.
  •  Keep your charcoal and starter fluid away from children and pets at all times, and make sure it’s away from the heat when it’s not in use.
  • Only use newspaper as a fuel IF you have a Charcoal Chimney Starter.
  • When you are finished grilling, make sure the coals cool completely, and dispose of them in a metal container. Keep in mind coals can remain hot for up to 24 hrs.
  •  For chemical free grilling, consider using natural lump charcoal & light it with fatwood or waxy sawdust type starters.

Propane Grills

  •  Before each use, check your gas tank hose for cracks or leaks.
  • To check the hose, apply a soap and water solution to the hose; if there is a propane leak, the soapy water will bubble.
  • While your grill is operating, the smell of propane indicates a gas leak. Immediately shut off the grill and the gas tank.  Have a professional service your grill before you use it again.
  • If you have an out of control fire or flame coming out from underneath the grill, immediately call the fire department. 

With a little precaution, you can make sure that your summer cookouts are memorable for all of the right reasons.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Top 3 Reasons Why Fireplace Inserts Are More Energy Efficient than Outdated Fireplaces

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, “Older stoves that were manufactured before 1990 burn wood inefficiently, which wastes firewood, pollutes the air in your neighborhood, and creates dust inside your home.” Conversely, “Newer stoves can reduce smoke and dust, as well as cut heating expenses.”
If you have an older fireplace, or simply want to enjoy heat from a more energy efficient appliance, we recommend a fireplace insert. At The Firebird, we offer a robust offering of inserts, from gas to wood to pellet, and while each option has specific pros, the underlying benefit is energy efficiency – so you can’t go wrong.
In this blog post, we will illuminate the top 3 reasons why a fireplace insert is more efficient than an older, traditional fireplace.

Fireplace Inserts:

1.      Prevent Serious Heat Loss

Open hearths, while dramatic and alluring, don’t put out nearly as much heat as an insert. A lot of heated room air is actually sucked into the fireplace instead of pushed out, which results in palpable heat loss. An insert, on the other hand, has a sealed air-tight door system, which simultaneously generates more heat, burns considerably slower, and best of all – eliminates heat waste. According to, “The efficiency of fireplace inserts can be as much as 80%.”

2.      Are Energy Efficient by Design

Fireplace inserts are designed to be energy efficient. As we mentioned above, they are air-tight, which omits the possibility of extra heat loss. Wood burning inserts also have a re-burn system, which helps achieve efficiencies of 70%. Also, controllable circulating fans allow you to monitor the amount of heat felt in your space.

3.      Save You Money

Having the experts at The Firebird properly install a fireplace insert will ultimately reduce your energy bill. According to, “A more efficient wood-burning heating system means less gas, oil, or electricity is required to heat your home. When the insert is not in use, the closed air tight glass doors will prevent heated inside air from escaping up through the chimney and also stops cold outdoor air from getting into the home, whether hot or cold, this cuts your energy costs.”

As we hope you can see, the energy efficiency benefits of fireplace inserts are tenfold. We would love to meet with you to discuss your space and outfit an insert in your home so that you can experience high quality, easily controlled heat AND save money. Schedule a consultation with our insert experts today.