Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays’ take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘chainsaw

Rewarding Effort

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The big lumberjack project enters its third day today and the weather appears to be holding just long enough that we can reach a satisfying level of completion. The area around where we brought down this tree is on a corner of our property that probably gets the least amount of attention, and now that we are poking around the vicinity, the potential for more clean up is becoming apparent.

There was a fair-sized pile of branches already on the ground beneath the bonus box elder limb that came down, swallowed by growth that obscured its presence. We could probably be chipping for longer than I intended, but I will be happy to simply process the new piles created since cutting the trees down on Friday.

While a farmer harvested corn across the road, I spent yesterday sawing limbs to pieces and pulling branches into piles to be chipped. Cyndie brought Delilah down for a visit and helped with the clean up until she ran out of time before an outing in the cities to see the Nutcracker ballet.

The quick onset of dusk forced me to stop with the logging operation and move on to horse chores. That has left a few more runs of hauling logs up to the wood shed and then some serious chipping for today. There are at least three piles of branches that I’d love to have processed, after which the project will feel pleasingly accomplished.

Already, the progress thus far is rewarding. Last night, in the bright moonlight on Delilah’s last walk before bed, I took her the long way around our hay-field just so I could walk past the spot to look at it another time.

Rewarding, indeed.

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Written by johnwhays

December 3, 2017 at 9:17 am

Crucial Assistance

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We couldn’t have gotten as far as we did yesterday without the generous support of my sister, Mary and her eminently capable husband, Tim. They showed up ready for action and made all the difference with the sawing and chipping.

Before they arrived, I succeeded in knocking down 4 of the 5 smaller trees, but the next step would have been a bit much for me, on my own.

For all the preparation I did, there was one important thing I neglected. The blade on my chainsaw wasn’t very sharp. Compounding that oversight, the spare blade back in my shop was labeled: “needs sharpening.”

Luckily, Tim brought his saw. Combining my ladder, his reach, and a few occasions with the pole saw, some of the many limbs of the 60-foot tree were felled without breaking the fence, although it did bend a couple times.

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We agreed on the time to stop working on individual limbs and take a crack at bringing the whole thing down, but there was still a lot of wood standing.

We tossed a rope up –using the technique of a weighted line I learned from my brother, Elliott– and I played anchor while Tim did the sawing. It was laughable to think my puny size was going to control what that tree would do. I felt it shift when it pinched Tim’s saw, but there it stood.

At this point, Tim talked me into moving the truck and tractor, just in case. We tried muscling that rope a few times, and then Tim called for the tractor. I backed up to put enough pressure that he could get the saw out and then stretched that rope to its limit. With classic cracking, the top of that old dead tree came over at a little bit of an angle.

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We got two-for-one, as it grabbed a wayward branch of the scrubby box elder tree next to it and snapped that as well.

The four of us worked diligently to process the results, but only put an initial dent in the ground work remaining.

Today’s chores will be much less dramatic. I’ll start by sharpening my saw blade. There will be a lot of logging cleanup action, but nothing as daunting as felling that big tree yesterday. Volunteers still welcome.

We couldn’t have done it without you, Mary & Tim. Thank you for coming over to play!

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Written by johnwhays

December 2, 2017 at 9:06 am

More Cuttin’

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I stepped out with the chainsaws yesterday and continued crafting a new pathway along our north property line. First, I worked the pole saw to bring down branches that crossed the fence line from our neighbor’s trees. This is a task that, like so many others, seems to grow as you work.

For each branch that comes down, multiple previously unnoticed smaller branches suddenly appear.

I don’t know, maybe that’s part of the appeal. The simple task becomes a drawn out project requiring an athletic endurance to complete, and offers a visual reward that can be enjoyed for months.

With the overhead branches removed, the big remaining obstacle drew my total focus: that massive downed oak, frozen in the ground and blocking passage. I’d been slowly picking away at the bark and digging away the leaves around it for days. I found there was a portion where I could saw a section that was suspended above the ground.

It was irresistible to the point I extended my work day to continue progress. I’ve now got the main section across the trail cut into pieces that will be much easier to manage, once the ground releases them from winter’s grip.

I was able to roll one piece out and tip it up on end. That inspired a couple of additional cuts on what remained, even though there wasn’t clearance from the ground. I succeeded at the cost of a sharp blade. The end of the blind cutting put my saw in contact with blade-dulling dirt.

I will spend this morning practicing the art of sharpening my chainsaw blade while the sun climbs high and warms the soil around the dwindling limbs still seized in the frozen ground. Before I do any more cutting, I plan to use shovels and pry bars in hopes of finally eliminating the last barrier across our new route behind the wood shed.

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Written by johnwhays

March 19, 2017 at 9:50 am

Alternate Path

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For a very long time, I’ve wanted to clean up branches and trees that have fallen on the old rusty barbed wire fence along our north property line. Doing so could provide an alternate, straighter route for our perimeter trail. Instead of passing in front of the woodshed to get to a trail head that leads down the hill away from the yard, the new path would follow the fence line behind the woodshed, and be a continuation of a trail that currently runs behind the shop garage.

We’ll need to take out a nice thicket of raspberry bushes and ultimately move sections of a downed tree that is so large, previous owners cut it up, but left the pieces in place. The sections were too large to move.

Beyond those two issues, there were only a small number of saplings to be snipped, which is probably one big reason I felt inspired to open up this pathway in the first place. It was already almost there.

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Yesterday, I started the effort, thinking it might be quick and easy, once I got out the chainsaw. It was, and it wasn’t. There were a few branches that moved easily after being cut, but there remained a surprising number of the larger limbs that were held firmly in the frozen ground.

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Since we have a wealth of branches to be run through the chipper in that area, I’m planning to bring the tractor back there anyway, so I figure the hydraulic power of the loader might be the solution to moving the heavy sections of that tree trunk.

The question I haven’t answered is whether I will have better luck while the ground is still frozen, or should wait until after the thaw.

Today may involve a test of the frozen option.

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Written by johnwhays

March 12, 2017 at 9:27 am

Tree Artistry

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These guys are good. I got worn out just watching them work.

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The weather turned out to be pretty good for the work we had planned. Morning started out sunny enough to feel energized, but the air temperature remained cold enough that the lift unit was able to be navigated to more trees than I expected. The trimmer in the bucket moved around like the apparatus was an extension of his own body.

His chainsaw was on and off without effort and he held it with one hand as he cut, while his other hand supported the branches being removed, to guide them to the ground.

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Trees out of reach of the lift were simultaneously being rope-climbed in order to cut down dead limbs that have been looming threateningly over our trail for far too long. It is quite something to glance up and find a yellow jacketed person so high up in our big old trees.

There were some startlingly large chunks of tree plummeting from these heights. It was instantly rewarding to see the pieces safely on the ground after enduring the risk of dead limbs overhead for a few years.

Once they get up within reach of these branches, the work moves along swiftly as they study the task and make their cuts with great skill.

dscn5811eBetween the strenuous sessions rope climbing the tallest trees, they did some pole-saw cutting and limb climbing of our smaller trees to thin out overcrowded growth, removing co-leaders and opening space for wind to move through easier. This will help the trees withstand wind storms and give them a healthy shape for years to come.

Some of the trees look like they just got a serious haircut, but I’m thrilled it’s being done to give them a few years to grow into a new, healthy look.

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Written by johnwhays

February 17, 2017 at 7:00 am

Doggin’ It

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Racing home to beat the sunset, I arrived in time to drive the Grizzly into the woods with my chainsaw to clear a fallen tree from the trail. Actually, to clear half a tree, as it had fallen from our neighbor’s side of the fence. The top half of it was protruding into the path of our trail.

It wasn’t large, so I made quick work of it and returned to the garage where I changed to the winter wheels on the Griz and mounted the snowplow to get it ready for the next wave of precipitation moving our way.

Then all the off-season tires for both the ATV and Cyndie’s car were stowed away on the high corner shelf, and the garage got rearranged to make room to store all the equipment we probably won’t be needing for the next few months.

By the time I got in from chores, Delilah was overdue for attention and let us know it with an endearing parade of dog toys she pulled out and presented for our review. After chasing her around the house for her rubber yellow monkey, she got distracted by her antler chew.

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I laid down next to her and listened to the sound of her teeth clanking and grinding against the hardness of the branched horn. I was down on her level and we were just chillin’ together.

With all of the things I accomplished after work on a Monday, I deserved to spend a little time dogging it.

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Written by johnwhays

November 22, 2016 at 7:00 am

Smashing Success

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Sunday was a day of major accomplishment. Finally, after a serious thunderstorm tipped multiple trees back in mid-July, we have pulled down and cut up all of those, plus some other dead ones in the area that weren’t affected by the winds.

DSCN5110eThere were some complicated techniques required to force these large trees to tip back from the direction of their lean, over center and down to the ground. It didn’t all go flawlessly, but they all did go successfully in the end.

The rope rigging that Julian helped get set up on Saturday paved the way for yesterday’s first big success. That tree was key to getting after the one behind it.

While clearing a standing tree from the landing zone, the exercise expanded when that tree didn’t fall free as hoped and became another challenge to our skills.

IMG_iP1626eCyndie and I had to toss a rope up for leverage to pull so we could coerce it to come all the way down to the ground.

The extra effort of throwing rope and hooking up and operating come-alongs turned the big effort into an all-day project, but it was so thoroughly satisfying to have those trees down after weeks of wanting it done that it didn’t matter.

The chainsaw performed admirably, despite some abusive handling it was subjected to on a couple of occasions when I allowed the blade to get trapped in a pinch.

Beyond that, we are extremely happy to have completed the day injury free. It was a day filled with some dangerous work, but the equipment held up and we avoided the many potentials for calamity.

Despite the gleaming success, I will be very happy if I don’t need to use the chainsaw again for a very long time. I admit, it is an incredibly rewarding feeling when a tree you are trying to bring down finally falls, but it is a strenuous job. Plus, we have so much splitting that needs to be done now, I won’t have any time available to be cutting even more.

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Written by johnwhays

August 29, 2016 at 6:00 am