A village. It has a shed, accessible to all dwellers, in theory for keeping stuff like the ropes and buckets needed to operate the well (one for the whole village) or firewood, to be taken by whoever needs it.

However, in practice, everyone keeps there only whatever is broken, cracked, too old or too rotten to be usable. Ropes and buckets are always kept next to the well for convenience. Similarly, firewood is kept outside the shed, because no one cba to move it in and out of the shed. If it gets wet due to rain, people simply move it to their homes and wait a day or two till it dries out.

Is what I wrote above feasible? I'm wondering if this is not nonsense. Perhaps the ropes and wooden buckets would rot if exposed to harsh weather for prolonged amounts of time; perhaps metal buckets would corrode; perhaps firewood, if washed down by rain or snow, would either rot or store the humidity "inside", being very hard to be dried out.

Do such things like these described above have to be kept safely in a closed room, protected from the weather, or is it feasible for them to be kept outside?

Edit: Answering the clarification requests from the comments:

  1. The wood is being collected, cut and brought to the shed (or next to the shed) by a separate villager who gets paid for this. It cannot be allowed that any villager may collect and cut wood for themselves due to the shortage of trees in the area.
  2. The ropes may be hemp, but likely not plastic. The buckets may be wooden or metallic, but likely not plastic. This is because the technology setting is somewhere nearby medieval, and according to WIkipedia ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plastic ) the first truly synthetic plastic is a XX century thing.
  3. This also means that unless I'm wrong and tarring ropes requires a significantly more advanced technology the ropes may be tarred.
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    $\begingroup$ Not from a regular European-type weather, but things like unused buckets and ropes are usually kept in sheds rather just lie around, just for the sake of organization. Most firewood is stored outdoors, but some amount is kept indoors, for immediate use. $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 17:45
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    $\begingroup$ I mean spare rope and bucket. The ones in active use are tied to the well. $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 17:55
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    $\begingroup$ What does this have to do with world building? $\endgroup$
    – Slarty
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 18:00
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    $\begingroup$ What tech level? Are ropes and buckets hemp or plastic?.. Are wooden tools tarred? What kind of wood is used in the area? And have you tried reading sources for and by reenactors to get basic understanding about the era you are interested in?? $\endgroup$
    – Mołot
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 18:09
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    $\begingroup$ The short answer is that tools (wood bucket, hemp rope) decay - wet/dry cycles will speed the decay and attract insects, so storage outdoors is generally unwise. You also want to keep them reasonably clean of dirt and feces - they are being dipped in your water supply! Dry stacked firewood that gets rained on takes about 2-3 days to dry again...but wet/dry cycles make wood stacks habitat for insects and faster decay, too. Soaked-in wood must be re-dried (weeks) before it's worth burning. $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 18:19

5 Answers 5


Firewood goes in a lean-to

enter image description here

This is the traditional structure to store firewood for near-future use. Wood just cut or gathered can sit out to age for some time until the interior dries out a bit. Incidentally, recently cut boards need to 'age' until they aren't so green before you build with them.

So there will be an outdoor lumber pile that is aging. Then you fill your lean-to with firewood from the outdoor pile so you have a few weeks worth to burn for heating and cooking.

Wells are roofed

enter image description here

Wells will have their own roofs. The bucket and rope will go under the roof. Any spares would be in a long term storage shed, somewhere.

Worth noting that for a well where strangers will be drawing from it (a caravansarai comes to mind), people are often responsible for bringing their own bucket and rope. However, since you mention this is a small-ish village, you can probably assume sufficient social trust that the buck and rope are just left out.


So... There's a lot of different possible situations I can interpret from this.

How secure is the shed? Is it like the ones you find outside of hardware stores? Is it essentially a roof on poles? Is it a quadruple airlocked, hermetically sealed vault?

How about the village? What's the weather like? Is it a rainy mess all the time? Is it arid and dry?

Anyways, those are some considerations to consider. Now, the real question at hand. For organization, I'm gonna talk about each item you asked about individually.

Rope: So... Your village has rope. What kind of rope? If it's a synthetic rope (like polypropylene or nylon) then its biggest challenge is UV degradation. Any of the three sheds above would protect the rope from that, in any climate. The villagers would easily be able to store it looped on a pole outside the shed, as long as it's not exposed to sunlight for too long.

But what about natural rope, like manila or jute? These ropes are more susceptible to degradation from water and bugs. But there's still more to consider. What about the rope they used on large ships to tie sails? That was constantly exposed to water and salt, and it was strong enough to survive.

Rope doesn't die overnight, though. (Note that the speed at which it degrades is proportional to its thickness.) If your village is medieval (as the comments seem to suggest) then they might not even notice if rope stored for a decade outdoors decays. It would decay indoors as well, albeit at a slower rate.

Wooden bucket:

Wood is susceptible to cracking from humidity changes, so if your setting has lots of humidity changes, keep wood safe. Further, it would be best if your wood wasn't constantly wet, as this swells the wood and can attract insects.

Metal bucket:

Most metal ANYTHING today is galvanized, chrome electroplated, etc. to prevent rust or corrosion. As long as it's not hit or dented often enough to crack the plating, it will hold for decades.

But what if it's not? What if it's iron or steel or some annoying pewter mixture? Well... It's gonna decay wherever you put it. Note that water does speed the rate of decay. So if it's left outdoors and it fills with rainwater, it'll probably decay faster. (Note that I'm not quite sure what an oil seasoning during forging would do to it, it might have the same effect as it does on modern cast iron pans. Probably, you should look that up.)

So why doesn't my pan/sword/spatula/helmet/etc get all rusty? Iron oxide, as opposed to titanium or aluminum oxide, is soft and relatively easy to flake off. These things don't get all rusty because they're in constant use and probably, constant inspection.


So... firewood decays just like wooden bucket wood. The corollary to that is that decayed firewood, when dried, burns just as well as new firewood.

Here's another thing, though: depending on the setup of your fireplaces, it might be feasible to set wet logs on the edge of the fire to dry. The firepit in Skyrim's breezehome (Images don't seem to be working, so you'll just have to look that up) would be perfect for that, as would any campfire or bonfire. Wall mounted fireplaces probably aren't as optimal, though.

Anyways, there's the four things you asked about. But there's a more important aspect: What do the choices of the village say about them? Your idea is, physically, completely feasible. You're not using magic, nor violating any immutable laws in any way. Reality confirmed. But what about the village? Are they lazy hoarders that just do the minimum to get by? Are they hard working and organized? I believe that the mindset of your villagers is the most important thing in deciding where to put your firewood.

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    $\begingroup$ +1 for the last paragraph. Very good point about the mind set of the villagers. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 18:43
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    $\begingroup$ Decayed firewood does NOT burn just as well. Decay causes it to lose a lot of heating value. But new (cut from green timber instead of standing dead) takes time to dry (season) to remove the natural moisture. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 19:58

I have some experience in maintaining ropes and stores of firewood. I don't know much about buckets.

Firewood if left in the rain will eventually rot, but before that happens, it will become waterlogged, and difficult to use for its intended purpose. Wet wood is also a haven for worms, beetles, termites, ants, and all other sorts of bugs which are not only bothersome, but also eat the wood you want to burn. It is therefore best to cover wood, especially as woodcutting is done all summer and autumn in preparation for the winter, so wood may sit in the stack for several months before being used. As a tangential topic, there is a longstanding debate among Scandinavian woodcutters as to whether wood should be stacked bark up or bark down to best protect it from rain. On the one hand, stacking wood bark down allows for better drainage, while on the other hand bark acts as a natural water barrier. Also, if you must store firewood outside, build a platform for it to rest on so that water can drain from the stack. Otherwise, wood on the bottom of the stack will be completely useless by the end of the summer.

Rope, especially natural rope, is very susceptible to decay when it is wet. I have seen rope that when new has a load capacity of several thousand pounds come apart in my hands after lying in the dirt for a week (This is an extreme case as the rope was also weakened by having dirt particles being ground into it). I would not trust my life to a rope weakened by extended exposure to damp conditions. On the other hand, a rope used for well bucket is not under nearly as much stress, and I would not be so bothered by that. If the rope is allowed to dry after wetting each time, I would guess that a 1/2 inch hemp rope would last at least a year in use for a well bucket. Especially if it is tarred. Still, better that the well is covered.

You mentioned that your rope would probably not be plastic. It should be noted, though, that synthetics rope, while less susceptible to water damage, is susceptible to damage from UV radiation from sunlight.


For firewood it really depends on what you are actually doing, storing the wood or drying it.

If the wood is freshly cut (as your edit suggests) then you will not be burning it any time soon. For the purposes of generating heat (rather than for smoking or other edge cases) green wood is a last resort as it will waste a lot of it's heat energy boiling off the excess moisture in the wood, which can be anything up to 50% water.

At the very least you would be stacking it in a lean-to or other open sided building like that shown in kindledion's answer so the wind can air dry the wood for at least 6 months up to 2 years. Ideally you might kiln dry the wood to achieve lower moisture levels and better burn quality.

Once the wood is actually dry you would then want to store it somewhere enclosed so that it does not get wet again from rain or snow. It would still be required to be stacked properly so that air can flow around it so the logs do not get damp. Just before burning it should be stored inside, usually near the fire to make sure it is as dry as possible.

Source: I burn a lot of firewood for a living.

As for ropes and buckets... depending on the climate they may be fine outside but I would think at the very least they would be stored under some kind of lean-to as well if not inside. While modern Nylon ropes probably aren't going to degrade, a hemp rope will be prone to rotting, fungal or bacterial growth as wood a wooden bucket (not desirable in a rope or bucket used for procuring drinking water... though of course in your stated time period they wouldn't know about those things they might release that people get sick more using the old ropes and buckets that have been left outside)


Depends on climate.

Firewood on the pacific west coast rain forest (E.g Oregon, Washinton, British Columbia) never dries properly if stored outside. In a continental climate (central plains) where the humidity is low, and rain less frequent, wood can be stacked outside, but will burn more efficiently if covered from rain and snow.

natural ropes will rot in a year of being wet. There is a reason that sailing ships tarred miles of rope used on their ships. Replacing rope was an ongoing expense for ships.

Wood depends on the material. Cedar or redwood buckets would last a long time in wet weather. Poplar buckets in a wet climate would be growing mushrooms at the end of a year.

Given your scenario -- a version of the tragedy of the commons -- the shed would fall out of use fairly rapidly.

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    $\begingroup$ You should specify location more than "West Coast'. I imagine firewood stored outside in San Diego would dry out just fine. $\endgroup$
    – kingledion
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 19:41
  • $\begingroup$ Fixed. You are correct. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 20:27
  • $\begingroup$ Hmm. I used firewood near Portland for a decade, and it seasoned in the summer quite nicely. Needs to be covered during the stormy season, of course. $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 20:37
  • $\begingroup$ Once you actually heat with wood, you will appreciate the distinction between 1 season wood and 4 year covered wood. 1 year wood burns. But it takes twice as much as 2 year old wood, and three times as much as 4 year old wood. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 17, 2017 at 3:06

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