Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘wood chipper

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

Most Satisfying

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Every time I use our wood chipper, I grow more enamored with the machine and what it does for us. For me, it has become the most satisfying repeated task of property management that we undertake.

It is relatively easy to set up, makes good use of our otherwise under-utilized diesel tractor, and it makes quick work of the chipping. I love the way it transforms an unsightly nuisance of constantly accumulating dead (or recently pruned) branches into a precious resource of wood chips. We will never have enough.

We use the chips around plants in the gardens and landscaping, as well as a covering for our many trails. That is, we hope to cover the trails. Right now, we have a lot more trails in need than we have wood chips to cover.

If we could find a way to create a few more hours in a day, we certainly have no shortage of branches to chip…

And it would be a most satisfying additional few hours, indeed.

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Written by johnwhays

April 5, 2017 at 6:00 am

Soft Ground

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Nature didn’t live up to what the forecasters had predicted for us on Sunday. The temperature struggled to approach 50° (F) and the sky never really cleared enough to allow the sun to make much difference. Despite the less-than-inspiring conditions, Cyndie and I rallied our energies to pull out the wood chipper for another round of chewing up brush piles.

Since we are in the wonderful season when the top layer of soil is freezing and thawing daily, I had hoped to park the tractor on the driveway again, near the next largest pile of branches. Unfortunately, that meant the chute would be pointed directly into the wind and everything coming out would blow right back at the tractor.

Plan B had me moving a short distance off the pavement so we could point in a direction where the wind wouldn’t be a problem. Things progressed swimmingly until I apparently tossed in a limb that too closely resembled the petrified oak branches that foiled our efforts last time out.

I instantly realized I had completely forgotten to shop for more robust shear bolts after the previous go-round when the hardware replacement broke as fast as I installed it. Details, details.

I think I’ll remember to buy new bolts this time, especially if I do it on the way home from work today. No time like the present.

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Written by johnwhays

March 20, 2017 at 6:00 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

Sheared Again

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dscn5846eHindsight being 20/20, I decided to not chip any more of the large dead oak branches that had been cut out of the oldest trees on our property. Too bad it took busting the replacement shear pin I’d installed 15 minutes earlier to adequately enlighten me.

I switched to exclusively chipping the branches that came out of our maple trees for the rest of the day yesterday and the 3rd shear bolt in two days survived just fine.

The branches of oak would get the chainsaw. That tool didn’t have any problems cutting through the almost petrified oak.

I guess I’ve learned the limitations of my beloved Wallenstein chipper.

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Written by johnwhays

February 20, 2017 at 7:00 am

Posted in Chronicle

Tagged with , , , ,

Next Phase

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dscn5840ePicking up where the tree trimmers left off, I pulled the tractor out of the garage yesterday and we started the process of turning the piles of branches into wood chips. With the temperatures pushing into warmth much more typical for May or June, the timing was perfect for having fresh ground cover over the now muddy path leading down toward the barn from the driveway.

I quickly relearned how much physical effort is involved in the process of repeatedly feeding the chipping monster. The variety of branches that came out of our trees made for a constant struggle to detangle, reorient, and guide into the chute.

The smallest ends of branches will catch and get hung up on the corners, which interrupts flow, and the big limbs tend to bounce and torque when first struck by the powerful spinning blades. My body and hands frequently get smacked by the kick-back of the bigger branches.

After a prolonged session of working to make a pile of branches disappear into a wonderful mound of precious wood chips, I feel like I’ve been a few rounds in a boxing match.

dscn5836eCyndie helped to bring branches from farther and farther, and worked to cut junctions that “Y” off too wide to fit the bottom of the narrowing chute. We parked the tractor on the solid pavement of the driveway to be out of the mud that is quickly becoming the prevailing footing during this unbelievable February melt down.

We took a little break for lunch and then when I came out for a few more rounds of battle, it was T-shirt weather. It is just plain sad to be living through the end of cold and snowy winters like the ones I enjoyed as a kid. I fear for the precious trees I have been focused on caring for these last few days, as they react to the warmth and prepare to sprout new buds.

If they sprout leaves too early, they risk an ugly death from freezing when a hint of real winter returns for a last gasp reminder of cold that usually happens this time of year.

When I turned the key to restart the tractor, nothing happened. Well, not nothing. The indicator lights lit up, but there was no hint of sound from the starter. I have experienced this before. It was how I was first introduced to this tractor. No matter what I did, I could not get it to start.

That first time, I ended up needing to have a service person come out. He accidentally figured out the safety interlock of the PTO lever wasn’t getting met. After chasing a different possibility for a time, I came around to the same conclusion. It was the PTO lever again.

I got the engine started, repositioned the tractor to a new spot and was ready to go. I picked a big old dead oak branch to start and quickly busted the shear pin of the chipper.

I took the hint and called it a day for chipping.

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Written by johnwhays

February 19, 2017 at 9:35 am

Last Thing

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There was one last thing I’ve been wanting to do in the paddock before the winter weather sets in for good this season. When we had the fences installed to create our two paddock spaces, the smaller side encompassed two trees. There was a gorgeous willow tree with a cottonwood close beside it.

It didn’t take long for both trees to show evidence of not being entirely happy about the new arrangement, but the willow has at least continued to show signs of life. The cottonwood gave up in the first year. It has been standing dead for quite a while now and the small branches from it have started to litter the ground with increasing frequency.

The tree makes a convenient scratching post for the horses, so I have no interest in cutting it down. I just wanted to cut off the branches and leave the snag for birds to perch on and horses to rub against.

Mark this one off as “Done.”

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Bringing all those branches down created quite a pile that needed to be dealt with. I tend to overlook that detail when I get all fired up to trim our trees. Cutting branches down ends up being a small part of the whole project.

Luckily, George was available to help and I opted to try chipping them without delay. The other option was to move the pile somewhere and save the chipping for a future opportunity. That could lead to a lot of chances for procrastination, so I felt pretty good about taking quick action on this occasion.

I cranked up both the ATV and the diesel tractor, attached a trailer to the former and the chipper to the latter and away we went. Parking the trailer beside the chipper allowed us to fill it directly from the chute and save any extra handling to convert a pile of branches into chips unloaded in our convenient storage location by the labyrinth.

That leaves me about as ready as I’ve ever been for freezing temperatures and oodles of snow to arrive for winter. Unfortunately, the weather continues to run warmer than normal and the precipitation we are getting is all rain.

Do they make galoshes for snowshoes? I might have to get me some of those so I can do some trekking in all this rain.

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Written by johnwhays

November 28, 2016 at 7:00 am