Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘fallen trees

Double Duty

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This is becoming an all too frequent unwelcome occurrence. We had another tree succumb to high winds. This time it wasn’t in the woods, but right along the driveway during last Wednesday’s storm. When the look of winter arrived with a blast of 8 inches of heavy, wet blowing snow, it forced us into the double duty of cutting up the big pine across the driveway before I could plow.

Wind gusts were reaching 40 mph which turned out to be too much for the roots to hold that big beast.

Cyndie asked if we should use it for this year’s Christmas tree. I probably did a poor job of hiding my exasperation when I said she could if she was able to lift it.

Once we were in the middle of cutting it up and she discovered how big it really was, she understood my reluctance.

After I cut the trunk about halfway up, she pondered taking just the top portion. Again, I said that would be fine if she could lift it, knowing full well it was still too much tree.

Fortunately, the very top had split into two competing leaders, which made it an unappealing option when we reached a size that would be barely manageable.

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I offered her the alternative option of saving boughs for making a wreath or other decorative holiday arrangements. That met with her approval. No sense having all that wonderful pine scent going to waste.

Of course, this being a healthy live tree when it was pushed over, there was plenty of fresh, sticky sap to make a wonderful mess of her gloves and everything else around, including her hair by the time she was done moving things around.

An hour and a half later, I was able to start the plowing process, which was no picnic due to the stickiness of the snow. It kept sticking to the plow blade and hindered the winch’s ability to lift the blade. This being the first snowplowing of the season, I needed to establish an extra width by pushing the edges well past the end of the pavement to allow space for subsequent snow events.

I was moderately successful. We may have an opportunity to test this by tomorrow as we are due to get another comparable blast of wind and snow tonight.

Something tells me this is going to feel like a very long winter. Hopefully, I won’t be facing the double duty of lumberjack and plow driver all at the same time again.

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Written by johnwhays

November 30, 2019 at 10:26 am

Tree Cleared

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We took full advantage of being home on Labor Day and put in some hard labor on one of our trails in the woods yesterday. Standard procedure on a day I intend to mow involves finding something to do for a few hours in the morning while the dew dries off the grass. In this instance, it was time to remove the big tree that still hung across one of our trails.

The project required a lot of preliminary trimming of several other trees that had tipped over on our neighbor’s property. There was quite a tangled mess of branches.

At one point, when I allowed the saw blade to get pinched, Cyndie took advantage of her super-human strength to free it. While I stood grumbling and contemplating what ingenious method I was going to employ to get enough leverage to force open the cut I had started, Cyndie volunteered to push up on the horizontal tree trunk.

I told her she was welcome to try, but that it was probably a couple of hundred pounds more than we could lift. Luckily, she had no clue how heavy it would be, so she had no sense that it wouldn’t be worth a try. I was sure it weighed more than I could lift, so I didn’t even make an attempt.

Cyndie pushed on the trunk and it shifted just enough that I was able to pull the saw free.

It seems to me that I could probably benefit from being a little less certain about what I think I already know.

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By noon we had the trail cleared and I was able to move on to mowing grass. I wish I could say that would be the last time I mowed the lawn this season, but I fully expect growth to continue throughout the month. Maybe, at the very least, the amount of time between mowings will expand so I don’t have to deal with it every seven days.

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Written by johnwhays

September 3, 2019 at 6:00 am

By Hand

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Circumstances had me home alone again last night, so I talked Delilah into helping me clear some of the smaller trees that had fallen across our trails, doing the sawing the old fashioned way: by hand. I will try not to hurt myself, patting my own back in pride over once more resisting the urge to use the chainsaw when no one else is around.

Work safe!

The first tree we came upon seemed to be in an advanced state of decay, so I hoped it would be a quick cut. Yeah, …that didn’t come true. The outer circumference was very spongy, but the inside was totally solid wood. Delilah was very patient while I took several breaks to rest my arms.

The second tree was higher off the ground, so that offered a chance to stand up while sawing, but it also had a lot of branches that ultimately led to more cutting.

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Delilah was a great help, standing guard up the trail to make sure no one entered the work area while I was cutting. Using the hand saw, I was able to clear three trees and turn a 10-minute job into an hour-long project. My helper didn’t even complain that our lumberjacking expedition cut into her regularly scheduled evening meal time.

She probably appreciated the greatly improved look of the trail so much that a little food delay was easily accepted.

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The big tree that remains across the trail is high enough up, it gives an appealing impression of an intentional arbor. Maybe I’ll leave it there for a while. I could let the vines that are growing hog-wild everywhere cover it up for increased aesthetic value.

Cyndie and I are short enough that neither of us needs to duck to pass under it, but people taller than us might feel it is a little too low to have left where it fell.

If anyone complains, I’ll just say it was too big for my little folding hand saw.

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Written by johnwhays

July 24, 2019 at 6:00 am

Another One

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We have been very lucky recently that the most violent of the stormy weather passing through our region has been missing us. Instead of 4 or 5 inches of rain, we have had 1.75 inches. Despite the wild panic Delilah has demonstrated over rumbles of thunder that occurred, no lightning strikes have hit nearby. Most worrisome for me over the weekend were reports of 70 and 80 mph wind gusts combined with golfball to baseball-sized hailstones crashing down.

That never materialized here. Still, for some strange reason, we continue to experience falling trees. On Saturday, I posted about the tree that fell on Friday, even though I wasn’t aware we had experienced any storm. By the end of that same day, there was another even bigger busted tree hanging across that same trail.

We didn’t hear that one, either.

It’s becoming an obstacle course to navigate that trail through the woods. Cyndie was away all weekend, so I respected our agreement to avoid using the chain saw when I’m alone and left the three downed trees across the path for the time being.

It’s probably only marginally safer to use the wood chipper, but I elected to work with that yesterday morning while I waited for the overnight dew to evaporate from the really long lawn grass. Mowing the lawn became the afternoon project.

The professional crew we hired to bring down that big oak that toppled, cut it up and left everything lay right where it was, which saved us a lot of money. Now I’m having second thoughts about those savings. Wrestling the branches to get them into and down the chute of the chipper is a real chore if the “Y” junctions aren’t trimmed.

It is a “pay me now or pay me later” process. I don’t want to spend time cutting every last branch, so I spend the time instead, trying to force the branches far enough down the chute to where the chipper will grab and break them.

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Most of the cut logs are so big I can’t lift them. They will get rolled downhill to where I can get them in the ATV trailer to be moved up by the woodshed for splitting.

The chickens seem to like scratching through the pile of wood chips. I have no idea what they were finding in there.

I will be very surprised if I don’t end up with a poison ivy reaction after that exercise. Right where I stood to feed the chipper, there was a known patch of poison ivy. I expect it was getting on the branches I was grabbing, it was probably getting atomized by the chipper, I was likely breathing it, and wiping sweat off my face with gloves that handled it.

I washed down thoroughly afterward, but time will tell whether I was being stupidly careless, or that my previous recent exposures with sequentially reduced reactions were an indication that my sensitivity is fading. I should know in a day or two.

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Written by johnwhays

July 22, 2019 at 6:00 am

Foulest Odor

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Ever. It was absolutely the worst possible smell. I looked it up on a “rank bad smells” survey and there it was at the very top of the list: decaying animal. How did that smell get inside my house?

Who else? Delilah.

The sequence of horrible events went like this: Delilah and I had just completed a perfectly normal and wonderfully pleasant afternoon walk. She peed, she pooed, I picked eggs (six!), and we were on our way toward the front door.

Suddenly, Delilah darts to the far side of the driveway and snaps up something from amidst the thick ground cover over there. Then she gets that look on her face. I could tell she had something in her mouth, but I had no interest in challenging her over it.

We start our way around the garage, but then she turns to chomp on her prize. I see a brief flash of what looks like small feathers of a bird’s wing out the side of Delilah’s mouth. She swallows demonstratively and heads for the door, happy as can be.

At least I didn’t have to try negotiating a way to go inside without bringing that little snack along. That game never goes well. When I got to the steps, I caught a whiff of a dead animal and wondered if there was a deceased critter nearby that needed to get picked up.

Then I followed Delilah into the house and the smell was even stronger inside. She burped. Honestly, she did. That made the stench even worse! I thought I was going to be sick.

I had to struggle to get her harness unclipped without letting her snout get anywhere near me. It was awful. Horrendous. She had eaten the foulest dead bird and now it was in her stomach, and in our house.

Pequenita came running up to Delilah –not something she normally does– and appeared to take great pleasure in inhaling that noxious odor coming from the dog’s mouth. For that moment, suddenly they were true pals with a genuine shared passion.

I could barely wait to feed Delilah her dinner to replace the disgusting smell with the usual unpleasant smell of dog food.

Before that all that happened, we had accomplished a survey of the perimeter of our property for wind damage. We made out okay.

There were several small trees that had fallen across the trail, but nothing substantial tipped over.

Up by the house, I spotted some freshly sprouted oak leaves that had been blown off a branch.

That little batch was about the size of my hand, with each leaf barely as long as my fingers. Their lives ended way too soon.

It’s a shame because we need all the leaves we can get in order to purify the air around here and counterbalance Delilah’s foul contributions.

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Written by johnwhays

May 23, 2019 at 6:00 am

Tree Down

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Sometimes a simple walking of the dog through the woods feels more like a reconnaissance mission of surveying the ever-changing status of our property. Certainly, after a few days of strong winds there are changes to be expected, but I’ve been surprised more than once about how easy it is to miss what eventually seems to be obvious.

Did this tree make a sound when it toppled?

We didn’t hear a thing. I expect I may have walked past it one or two times in the days since the gale force gusts blasted us for hours on end last week, but yesterday as I joined Cyndie and Delilah for morning chores, I spotted it immediately as we approached.

It fell in a perfect direction to avoid getting hung up in any other trees and pointed away from the trail. With all the other downed wood from our days of tree trimming awaiting attention, it’s possible this old poplar will be left where it lays for nature to process.

If we were intent on cleaning up downed trees and branches throughout the full extent of our meager stretch of forested acres, it would be more than a full-time job for us.

In the last couple of years we have focused our attention on the patch of trees closest to the house by the barn and back pasture, picking up dead wood that has made its way to the ground.

This is the time of year, before green leaves obscure the view entirely, when the extent of branches brought down over winter is so easy to spot that it intimidates. There is so much to be picked up. It doesn’t give any impression of our having done so last year. That is, until one strolls through the forest at the west end of our land to see how much is on the ground where nothing has ever been picked up.

I wonder what a year-long time-lapse recording of the trees and ground in our woods would look like. Timed right, I bet it would appear to be raining limbs and branches.

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Written by johnwhays

March 18, 2017 at 9:05 am

Tractor Timber

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IMG_iP1462eDespite the inherent risks in dealing with trees that have blown over, but remain hung up in the branches of other trees beside them, I chose to see if I could push them over using the loader on our tractor.

Whether or not it made any sense to try, I forged ahead on the idea that it just might work.

First, I needed to attach the loader bucket that I’ve recently taken to storing at one end of the hay shed.

The following is pretty much how the previous week unfolded for me, in terms of frustrations.

As I approached the hay shed on the tractor, I realized the trailer on the back of the truck was parked directly in front of the spot I needed to reach. Keys to the truck were up at the house.

I caught sight of Cyndie just crossing the yard and shouted to ask if she could grab the keys.

She turned the key and the starter stuttered the staccato clatter of “not enough battery.”

“Not again! Not now!”

IMG_iP1493eFor some unidentified reason, this happens at very unpredictable odd intervals. The truck needed to have its battery charged again. It was parked far enough away that it would require an extension cord, and then I realized the nearest outlet was dead because I had borrowed the circuit breaker last fall to use for the waterer over the winter.

I swapped out the breaker, got the battery charging, and decided to do some lawn mowing. All that served to do was intensify my frustration over the odd problem of the middle blade not cutting and the outside blades cutting low. Something more than just a broken bracket must have gone wrong when it failed last week.

I did the bare minimum of ugly mowing and then put it away to start the truck.

All that frustration before I could get to the task I intended.

Compared to those hassles, the rest of my project went swimmingly. I pulled up to the trees, lifted the bucket to test the weight, and after an initial slip, successfully pushed the trees over with a resounding crash.

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Yikes. It was both scary and satisfying.

Most of all, it wasn’t frustrating.

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Written by johnwhays

August 1, 2016 at 6:00 am