When we were searching for our ideal homestead property, a high priority (just under low land price) was having a good firewood supply. Keeping the house warm is not a frill, so dependence on big oil is not just expensive, but adds stress and worry to the life of anyone who was not lucky enough to have had that operation that shorts out the part of the brain that identifies and evaluates future risks to the well being of the planet and its inhabitants. Judging by the political discourse I am hearing, this procedure has become fairly popular.
When we found a fifty acre parcel that was 90% covered by a mature stand of bush, I was optimistic but uncertain that we could supply our heating needs without accessing any outside fuel sources. My experience in heating with wood was on the west coast with trees that were of a different size and type. Over this winter we have been harvesting mostly deadfall and dead standing to heat the old workshop and build up a supply for later use. The results have been encouraging enough to say that it may be possible to heat a house and workshop on a permanent basis without diminishing the resource. It will take several years to clean out all of the deadfall and dead standing. The only living trees we are presently planning to remove are those that must be cut down to accommodate driveways, building sites, gardens and so on. If the supply proves inadequate, there is a provincial forest in the area where residents can gather unlimited amounts of deadfall and dead standing timber without a permit.
Although our plans currently call for a propane backup, the ultimate goal for heating and all other energy requirements is to secure the most possible from the land itself. It is entirely possible to produce 100% of our energy requirements on the homestead, and that will always be my target but it will be a long journey and I may never get to the 100% benchmark (unless I live to be a very old eccentric). The challenges that currently block us from complete energy self-sufficiency have nothing to do with the tech. The barriers are logistical and economic. Combining the lowest possible cost with independence of supply and ecological friendliness is still tricky. The ample wood supply, the rising price and questionable availability of petrochemicals and the falling prices of solar panels and other off grid gear has given us a roadmap forward.