Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘cutting wood

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

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

Cuttin’ Wood

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The weather on Friday started out just right for getting outside and doing some work in the woods. The air temperature was comfortable, and the ground was frozen, so traversing our terrain was clean and dry. I decided to cut some wood.

DSCN4503eThere are a lot of standing dead trees awaiting my saw, and plenty of dead branches that could use pruning. I started with our apple tree. There were a couple small branches that were easy to reach with my pole saw, but one fair-sized limb up high enough that I needed to throw a line and use a rope saw.

The apple tree was a treat to cut because it smelled marvelous! It also offered a beautiful visual of enticing rings. Such an artistic depiction of the history of the tree. How can I not spend some time creating something worth keeping out of this? With any luck, hopefully something I would actually finish.

I cranked up the chainsaw and successfully dropped a standing dead butternut tree. It was a great victory for me because I needed to first get a line over a small tree in the way so I could pull it aside to make room for the felling. The butternut fell right where I wanted it.

DSCN4500eI had barely sliced the trunk into logs when the perfect day turned into a spring-like snow squall. It forced me to gather my gear and hustle indoors. When I got back out there yesterday, the temperature was hovering just above freezing and the wet new snow began to turn the trails into hazardous, muddy slip-slides.

It is time to minimize travel on our trails for a while in the afternoons.

Maybe that will give me a chance to make good progress on a few art projects in the days ahead. Sounds fun!

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Written by johnwhays

March 6, 2016 at 11:12 am

Big Plans

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Today we have some high expectations for big accomplishments. Our friends, Barb and Mike are coming over to help us get the woodshed roof back up. Before we even get to that project, our horses have an appointment with the veterinarian. They will have their teeth checked and be given whatever shots are due in this routine scheduled visit. We plan to move them into their stalls in the barn when we go down to serve their morning feed. After horses, it’s all about the woodshed.

If we are successful in getting the woodshed rebuilt, it will be a significant psychological milestone for me. It has lingered in my mind all summer as unfinished business, and visually tarnished the look and ambiance of that space behind our house. While we’ve made great strides on all the other major projects we had in mind for the summer, that unfinished woodshed remains as the last of my significant goals. It has been an ongoing source of torment for me.

I miss having that place where my wood splitter was conveniently stationed. I would meander back there at various odd times, in moments between other projects, to split 5 or 10 logs, tossing them on the stack under the roof. There is something special about the atmosphere of that space where the logs are split and stacked. I don’t feel the same sense of satisfaction toiling away on the workbench in the shop, as I do around the wood splitter.DSCN2145e2

I’ll have plenty of opportunity to enjoy that space once the woodshed is rebuilt. We have quite a backlog of wood that needs splitting from all the trees we have cut to clear space for the pasture fence, to open up the south drainage ditch, and to widen the trail we opened up through the south woods. Unfortunately, it will all be for next year’s burning.

I’m going to be a little short of split wood this winter, I’m afraid. When things get slim, I’m hoping I can harvest some of the branches of dead wood that are widely available around the property. There are plenty that are small enough they won’t need to be split, if I just cut ’em to fit into the fireplace. I know Cyndie won’t want to give up warm fires just because we’ve used up all the seasoned split logs. It will be important that I devise a workable alternative to satisfy her voracious appetite for that mesmerizing glow from the hearth.

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Written by johnwhays

October 25, 2014 at 6:00 am