Wednesday, March 30, 2016

I'm A Lumberjack and I'm Okay...
well pretty good...
and lucky.

I put any construction/building plans on hold for a few days and did some destruction instead. Actually, I cut down some trees. I've been meaning to do so for a while and the winds finally died down enough that I felt I had a fair chance to drop these trees where I wanted.

So much for my "fair chance" as everything seemed to go foul on me from the start. 

A white birch that had partially snapped about 8 feet off the ground (it was still attached) had it's crown hung up on a small maple. Even when I cut the stump of the birch, it refused to let go. No amount of cutting, or pulling on the hanging remnant of the birch could persuade it to let go. I had no choice but to cut down the maple as well. I ran ropes from the maple to a large oak and from the birch to a pine forming a 90 degree restraint that I hoped would prevent the trees from falling on the wood pile or worse the house. The did protect the house, but the tops of both three landed on the wood pile. Luckily they did no damage as it was just the uppermost twigs that landed on the stack of wood. The two together didn't yield more than a weeks worth of firewood, but it's good firewood. Birch lights easily and burns nicely, and the maple produces lots of heat. (I might even make a birdhouse or two from the birch or peel some of the bark to apply to the sides of a birdhouse.)

I had my eye on a couple of locust trees that shade the garden a a few white ash trees that need to come down before they get attacked by borers. None threaten the house, but I wanted them out any way.

The first locust I attacked, was a short distance downhill from the main garden bed. (That will be a future project as the landscape timers on it and the onion/strawberry/herb garden are rapidly decaying after nine years.) I hoped to drop it next to the garden, but it had a mind of it's own and landed on the chicken wire fence instead. Some minor damage there, but nothing too serious. I had thought to save some of the straighter sections of the locust for either fence posts or something else, but decided to chuck that idea and proceeded to cut it into fireplace lengths. It will burn...eventually. Takes a hot fire (see birch and maple above) to get it going but once it starts burning, it gives off plenty of heat. Got a pretty big brush pile from the smaller limbs and branches that will serve as home for some lucky critters.It's even got armor protection from the thorns the smaller locust branches bear. (I've got a few scratches from them and the wild rose bushes growing in that area to prove how formidable that protection will be against a cat or fox.

I went on to look at a second, larger locust that obscures the view to the west and sheds copious amounts of seeds in the direction of the garden, bit had second thoughts when I realized how large the trunk was. Actually I should say "trunks" as the thing divides into three about 3 feet off the ground. I couldn't decide 1) where to cut it first or 2) which direction(s) it would go. It can wait.

On to the first white ash. Slight bend to the trunk, branches pretty evenly distributed...should be easy to make it go where I want it to go. HA! I wanted it to fall south across the trail and made my notch on that side almost half way through the trunk. BUT, as I started making my felling cut, and got about a third of the way to the center, the damn tree sat down on my chainsaw! IT wanted to fall north!

I scratched my head and walked back to the garage to get the second chainsaw. (There was no room for wedges.) If it wanted to fall north, then, by golly, I was going to let it. I carefully cut out the back of the notch and the tree fell with about 1/4 inch of wood between the two saw blades. I should say MOST of the tree fell. One large section above a split I hadn't noticed got hung up...on the large locust I had though about taking down.

By cutting off three foot sections one at a time, I was finally able to get the hung up portion of the ash to come to earth. I then spent the better portion of the afternoon cutting the trunk and larger branches into fireplace lengths and stacking it at the edge of the trail. There's enough wood there to get us through a month of cold weather once it's split and dried. Luckily, there doesn't seem to be any sap rising in the ash yet. At least nothing was showing up at the cut end of the trunk as it would with either birch or maple. (Ash burns really, really good. almost as good as maple.) Got a sizable brush pile from that slash too.

So there you have it. The best laid plans oft go astray.
And it's going to take my aching body a day or two to recuperate.


Rev. Paul said...

I'm impressed that you forced the trees to cooperate to that extent. Well done, sir!

joated said...

I'm not saying it was easy...