Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘dead trees

Prepping Machines

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It seems like it should be simple to just cut down a couple of trees and grind the branches into chips, but there are a lot of little steps to setting up and actually executing the tasks.

After work yesterday, I set about prepping some of the equipment, in hopes of priming this morning’s start on this weekend’s logging project. The chipper attachment was stored a couple levels deep in the shop garage. I needed to do some rearranging before I could get access to it.

The back-blade was still on the big tractor, so the first order of business was to find somewhere out-of-the-way to park that.

Except, that wasn’t actually the first order of business. I decided to move the Grizzly out, to make room for fueling up the New Holland, and in so doing, ended up driving the ATV down to the barn to hook up its trailer.

After that, I was finally ready to back Big Blue out of the garage and get rid of the back-blade.

Once that was done, I hooked up the chipper to the 3-point hitch and parked the rig in the barn.

Next, I started collecting equipment I would want to haul to the work site in the ATV trailer.

Chainsaw. Check.

Chain oil, mixed gas, wedge, face shield, leg protectors, ropes, come-along, chains, pole saw, log holder, hand saw, ax, spare ear muffs/hearing protection, ladder, rake, branch pruner… and if I can find it, a kitchen sink.

Still, there will end up being a need for some item that I forgot to bring. Honestly, one goal of bringing so much down there is so that we won’t need it. I’m not above using a little reverse psychology with the universe.

My hope is to have tedious setup tasks taken care of in advance to get full benefit of volunteer help for cutting limbs of felled sections of trees, feeding branches into the chipper, and cutting trunks into logs. If we are really productive, there will be the added chores of driving loads of woodchips away and dumping them, or hauling logs up to the woodshed.

Most importantly, I’m looking forward to the opportunity for hearty fellowship in the great outdoors and an outcome of safe and healthy success for all bodies involved, particularly the discs of my lower back.

I don’t want to get too greedy, but some time for good-natured banter around a fire with people’s favorite beverage after a day’s physical workout would be a fine outcome, too.

I’m just sayin’.

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Written by johnwhays

December 1, 2017 at 7:00 am

Open Call

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Dear Twin Cities friends and family, if you have been longing to get out in the fresh air of the countryside to put in a good day’s work helping take down a couple of dead trees, I have an opportunity for you!

On either Friday or Saturday this week, depending on the availability of a majority of hoped-for volunteers, I am plotting to finally bring down a crown of dead branches located at a particularly prominent front corner of our property.

It doesn’t appear be a complicated project, but it has potential to be a chore that many hands will greatly ease and likely expedite.

My plan involves using a chainsaw to cut down each of the 5 “trunks” sprouting from the common base of the first tree, and then grinding the multitude of small branches in our chipper. We will point the chute of the chipper into the bed of our pickup truck and haul the bounty to the storage nook by the labyrinth garden.

Any limbs larger than 5-inches diameter will be cut for firewood and hauled up to be stacked beside the wood shed.

When the first tree is out of the way, we will toss a rope into the second tree and repeat the routine with that skeleton.

The weather forecast six days out is looking promising to accommodate outdoor work.

Volunteers will be rewarded with food from Cyndie’s kitchen, your choice of take-home bags of wood chips or Wintervale soul-soil, and an invigorating workout in the great outdoors with bountiful good fellowship.

If you are ready, willing, and able for this one-day lumberjacking adventure, let me know as soon as you can.

Be all that you can be.

Just do it.

Advance and be recognized.

Snap! Crackle! Pop!

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Written by johnwhays

November 27, 2017 at 7:00 am

Downed Trees

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DSCN5021eOn Monday after work, I ripped into the task of cutting up the dead trees a storm had pushed over, and which I had recently shoved the rest of the way to the ground with the tractor.

I quickly figured out what was holding up all the wind-blown trees. Regular readers may recall that I mentioned a while back that vines seemed to be thriving this year. Well, there are vines everywhere in the area of these dead trees.

It’s unclear to me whether the vines are responsible for the demise of the trees, or not. I think most of this bunch are butternut trees, which are commonly killed by a fungal butternut canker disease, Sirococcus clavigignenti-juglandacearum. Go ahead, read that out loud.

The vines might look like they took over the trees, but they may simply have climbed up trees that were already giving up the ghost.

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My uneducated guess is that the vine is Virginia Creeper, based on image comparisons found online. One interesting data point supporting my suspicion is this tidbit:

People should be careful when they see Virginia Creeper, because there may be Poison Ivy around also. The two plants almost always grow together.

I’ve well documented there is no shortage of poison ivy growing on our acres.

The tendrils of the stalks grab and hold the bark of the trees with incredible tenacity. It is comical how the dead trees will gladly slough off the bark, but the vines maintain a grip that results in long dangling empty tree skins hanging down from the canopy.

While cutting up the assortment of trees that made it to the ground, I came upon two vine-covered dead snags still standing just behind the spot vacated by the others. They were about half the diameter of those in the ground, so I made quick work of felling them and expanding the evening’s cutting task.

So much was accomplished, yet so much remains. The 3 trees still hung up, visible in the background of the picture above, are going to be a lot more difficult to get on the ground. I’m thinking ropes and a come-along may be involved in my next attempt. These trees are not in reach of the tractor.

Better yet, maybe the next storm that hits will be blowing in the other direction, and will push them down for me.

A guy can dream.

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Written by johnwhays

August 10, 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

New Incentive

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DSCN4060eThis time of year, when trees and bushes drop their leaves and we can suddenly see things in the woods that were previously obscured by greenery during summer, the number of standing dead trees becomes much more evident.

Last week, just to make the point more dramatically clear, one of them gave in and toppled over before I could get around to cutting it down for firewood.

It is giving me new incentive to get out and prune the forest of these potential threats to the health and well-being of those who may be traversing the path at such an unfortunate time.

Cyndie says she didn’t hear it fall, but noticed the startled horses running away and Delilah’s barking in reaction. I’m particularly happy that she hadn’t been walking the trail at that particular moment…

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Written by johnwhays

October 18, 2015 at 9:36 am

Posted in Chronicle

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Creatively Repurposed

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We lost 8 long-needle pines in the last couple of years due to a combination of dry summers that sandwiched one long and very harsh winter. It was pretty obvious last fall that they were beyond recovery, but I just didn’t have the heart to take them down until this spring.

When the time came to finally face that chore, I decided to see if I couldn’t find some creative way to honor the memory of the pines. It just didn’t feel right to cut them all off at the ground. Of course, I have some history with this ploy of not cutting a tree to the ground and then using the remaining stump for something new.

At our home in Eden Prairie, I saved the 2-3 inch diameter trunks of a cluster of 3 choke cherry trees that had sprouted in an unwelcome spot of our yard, and then balanced rocks on them to create an interesting visual display. I liked the results enough to resurrect the concept again. In this instance, however, I have one item that will be more functional than a rock. It’s a birdhouse (Thank you, Mel & Greg!).

DSCN3422eWe have some really nice rocks here, so putting a few up on tree stumps is irresistible to me. While I was cutting down this tree which was leaning significantly, I discovered a twiggy young oak tree growing  beside it. If that oak survives the abuse that some critter has enacted on the bark of its skinny little trunk, someday it may tower over the end of our house beside our bedroom in the spot where this pine was unable to survive.

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Written by johnwhays

May 6, 2015 at 6:00 am