Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘clearing trail

Trail’s Open

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I have been waiting for the ground to thaw in order to clear the remaining sections of the downed tree laying across my new trail, but other things have commanded my attention. Each day, the project was on my agenda, but something else got first priority.

On Saturday, after I dragged my butt home from the bike ride, I refueled with some lunch with Cyndie. Rallying our energies after the midday meal, we set out to tackle separate chores. She was going to brush the horses, and I wanted to chainsaw a downed tree in our woods so I could continue chipping branches in that area. I also wanted to do some manure management and then take on the tree across the trail.

Cyndie suggested it sounded like I might be setting my goals a little high, especially after how drained I was when I got home.

She was dead on.

I barely summoned enough energy to finish chainsawing that downed tree. I was running on fumes as I lumbered around cleaning up and putting things away. Before calling it a day and heading in, I checked with Cyndie at the barn and offered to go get Delilah and take her for a walk.

Delilah had been on a “time out” inside all afternoon after running away from Cyndie into the woods while I was on my bike ride.

The dog and I headed out along my new trail. As we approached the downed tree, Delilah went around to the right and I hopped over toward the left. I landed on a piece that suddenly shifted. The ground had thawed enough to free the wood from its grip!

I couldn’t resist. The opportunity gave me renewed energy, so I hooked Delilah’s leash to a small tree and went to work on it. One after another the pieces of the tree came out of the ground and I was able to push them off the trail.

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I moved everything except the little piece that I determined was actually the stump of a small tree right in the way. That would require more attention than I was ready to give in that moment.

On Sunday, Mary and Tim stopped by for a short visit and on our way back from checking out our new chicks, I took them over to see my big accomplishment on the trail.

As I was telling them the story of that remaining stump, I kicked at it to demonstrate how solid it was.

It moved.

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Turned out it had just been frozen solid all along.

It was a little embarrassing, but that emotion was quickly overridden by the thrill of being able to simply move the obstruction aside.

The trail is now open for business.

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Written by johnwhays

April 4, 2017 at 6:00 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

Cold Blow

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The prolonged warm spell this autumn has finally come to an abrupt end. We swung from warm sunshine to blowing snow in about a day, making it feel colder than it probably is. I had planned to avoid the expected precipitation by holing up in the shop and working to restore some order after days of dumping piles of tools and lumber used on the chicken coop construction project.

After a morning of some lightning, thunder, and hail, I stepped out to find a temporary reprieve. It was almost sunny for a moment. I decided to postpone the shop tidying and wander down toward the chicken coop to look into fixing the ramp we have in mind for the chicken door.

Cyndie had tried weaving some grape vines but bailed on that idea after discovering the vines she collected were not supple enough for her methods. I suggested we simply slide small branches over/under a center strut as an alternative.

After finding and attaching the integral strut, and testing my concept with 10 or 12 of whatever sticks and twigs I could find lying around, I switched modes to collect a bigger batch of raw materials for the weave. Conveniently, I had planned a new route through the trees between the coop and trail to the shop garage which needed to be cleared of saplings. These will be ideal for making the ramp.

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Those shots are dark because I can’t seem to finish anything around here before the sun sets anymore. By the time I finished clearing the trail and thought to snap an image, there was barely enough light left. A fact which also makes it difficult to discern the horizontal flying crystals of frozen rain that were happening at the time.

I found it surprisingly disorienting to have a new opening in our woods where one had not existed before. It was shocking to suddenly have the feeling of not knowing where I was for a second.

What doesn’t show in the path is the old rusty wood stove that I had just hauled away. It is a relic of days when they tapped the maple trees here and boiled off the sap for syrup. It wasn’t visible through all the greenery during the summer months, but for the last 5 years it has been very conspicuous during the fall and winter, looking like a sad neglected relic.

That’s one more thing taken care of that I’ve wanted to do since we got here, discarding scrap and making this place ever more our own.

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Written by johnwhays

November 19, 2016 at 7:00 am