Friday, September 02, 2022

Wood Heats Three Times

The saying is that wood heats you three time: Once when you cut the tree down and into fireplace lengths; once when you split and stack it; and a third time when you burn it. After taking a couple of days off after completing Step One, it was time to get back to working on the wood pile. I took advantage of the coole temperatures and went to work splitting the cut ash and stacking it for use this winter. Having been a standing dead tree, it ws already pretty dry and, being ash, it split easily along the straight grain of the wood. There were only one or two pieces that had significant branches that needed to be split just so. The splitting took only two hours and the stacking another hour, I didn't even break a sweat. Two or three dead ash trees becon me as they stand either on the edge of the trail or a few yards into the woods. There's one giant that is a significant distance off the trail but on the edge of the field. I don't think I can get either the tractor or the ATV into it should I fell that tree. I'll have to check it out though, It's too damn inviting. I don't need any of that wood for burning this year. I think I've got enough to keep us warm and significantly reduce our use of propane. Still, I could fell it, cut it to length and stack it along the side of the trail for next spring.

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

A Busy Week at the Aerie.

 

Last Friday I felled a third ash tree. This one didn’t go as planned and I needed the help of a second chainsaw (the first got caught in the tree when it insisted on going the wrong way!) and the tractor when that second saw also got caught. I managed to get the tree on the ground and got clipped by some of the upper-most branches in the process when my rope was five feet too short for the task at hand. (My son, Rick—the urban forester who once worked in felling trees—then told me of the 1-1/2 rule. Always pull from a distance 1 and ½ times the height of the tree to make sure you are clear of those upper branches.) Anyway—as the Black Knight in Monty Python’s Holy Grail said—it was only a scratch.

Friday afternoon I trimmed off all the branches and cut most of the main trunk into 18-inch lengths. On Saturday morning I got the rest of the main log and nearly all the branches over 2-inches in diameter cut. Unfortunately, one of the chainsaws quit on me and I couldn’t get it started again. Luckily, I had a second ready to go. I spent a goodly amount of time picking up the smaller slash and using it to line the path. I figure if I can build up the downhill side of the trail, I won’t feel like I’m about to roll over in that direction when I take the tractor out that way.

Sunday was a day off for the local Audubon Society’s picnic. Funny how we all ended up talking about our ailments!

Monday, I took the errant chainsaw down to AJ’s Power Equipment in Mansfield. The guy at the service desk said he wanted to try a couple of simple things before he put a tag on the machine which could have taken it out of commission for a week or more. While he went into the workshop, I picked up a hardhat, face screen and earmuff combo used to protect your noggin while tree felling. (My earmuffs are better at cutting the noise, but the scabs on the top of my head were begging for a hard hat.) I heard that magical roar of a chainsaw revving up in the workshop and started feeling hopeful. Sure enough, the service dude came out and handed me my saw.

“She’s good to go,” he told me. “Just flooded badly enough that pulling the starter and letting it sit overnight weren’t going to help. We used an air line to blow the fuel out and that’s all it took.”

“What do I owe you?”

“Nothing.”

The head gear, however, cost me ninety bucks. Eh. Better than a cracked skull or another visit to the ER.


On the way home I picked up a half bushel of Zestar apples and another of Honey Crisp apples. More about them later.

Back at the Aerie, it was back to pick-up sticks and cutting to length.

Tuesday, I was again engaged in pick-up sticks and dealing with the slash. I finally set that aside and started hauling all the cut wood up to be stacked for either burning this winter or to be split and later stacked. The Yamaha Prohauler did most of the heavy transport. I just had to lift it up and put it on the flat bed. That was enough! I got a real workout from that. 

Wood waiting to be split.
  

 (Did I mention it is raining? No? Well it is. Buckets worth at times. Sorry for the screen.)

Wednesday, the weathermen promised rain—and they were right for a change! So I stayed inside and converted the apples into apple sauce. I took 48 apples (24 of each variety) washed, cored and sliced them; cooked ‘em until the were soft; and ran them through the food mill to produce a delicious sauce. Terry insisted they needed a little sweetening so I let her add about ¼ cup of sugar to each eight-pints. Ladled them into pint jars and submerged them in a boiling water bath. 

Apples got a bath  first. Then they got cored and sliced. Cooked until soft.

Soft apples went through the mill to become

Applesauce!

 

I got sixteen pints this way. And an extra quart for immediate consumption. I love it with roast pork and potatoes cooked in the pork’s grease. Heck, goes well with venison or beef roasts, too! 

Eight of the sixteen pints of applesauce I canned today.

 

While I was doing all this, Terry was busy, too. Granted some of her “busy” involved Embroiderer’s Guild meetings, but they count. I seem to remember two during the time I was felling trees and cleaning up the branches--in 85 degree heat.

In the times between meetings, she converted Early Girl, Roma and even some grape tomatoes into spaghetti sauce. She then canned that sauce in 10 one-half pint jars for later use. (She estimates that half the time she's using spaghetti sauce out of a pint or quart jar, she has plenty left over. Using half pints she figures she'll be right on the mark for most meals.)

She also converted zucchini into breads. She added six more loaves to our collection. By her calculations she has baked some 30 loaves this year and we have eaten/given away four leaving 26 in the freezer. A slice or two with a cup of coffee makes a fine breakfast. Unfortunately, once opened and the first slice is taken, there is a tendency to take another, and another, and…until it’s gone. A single loaf might , I say might, make it to lunchtime. 

Zucchini bread remnant. This one has only lasted so long (two days) because of all the canning going on. (And the cornbread made to go with yesterday's chili.) It got shoved into a corner of the counter and was ignored. But now it's out in the open. It will be tomorrow's breakfast for sure.

 

Since we just finished one from two years ago (They hide themselves well in our freezer!), Terry said she will bake no more this year even though the plants are still producing zucchini.

As I said we’ve been busy, busy busy!

 

Thursday, July 28, 2022

*knock-knock* Is this Thing Still On?

 I have been derelict in my duties vis-a-vis adding to this blog in a timely fashion. Again.

On one hand, there's not a heck of a lot to add on my part. I've not even been to New Jersey all that often. Heck, the new 2022 Tundra I picked up on March 4 hasn't had its first service visit yet. How's that for an indication of how house bound I've been.

Terry's been all over the place this past year including Missouri, Illinois, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Hawaii all in one trip. (At least I got almost four weeks of quiet out of that deal!)

"House bound" doesn't necessarily mean inactive, however. Just this past month I've felled two dead ash trees and cut them into firewood lengths. That took a little longer than I had planned as I banged up my right ankle and had to wait for it to heal. (Two weeks of waiting!) 

I spent some time trying to determine why my second Yamaha ProHauler would not go into reverse. Turned out that there's a pivot joint in the linkage that is anchored by a 3/8 inch bolt which also serves as the pivot. It was sheared off in the frame. I had to drill (most of) it out before I could put a replacement in. Now it works fine.

Aside from the one day raptor survey Terry and I participated in last December, I haven't been doing much birding. The feeders were attracting bears and the outdoor cats were stalking the birds, so I took them down for an extended period of time and have yet to get them back up.

 Then there's that amazing sinkhole called "Facebook" which has made time disappear.


Thursday, November 18, 2021

Once More Into The Breach!

 We've had our first snowfall of the year (last Saturday into Sunday--only about 1-1/2 inches that melted swiftly) and also our first fire in the fireplace. We needed the latter because the temperature in the house fell to 57 degrees overnight when the power went out just long enough on Saturday to send the furnace off the deep end. A quick "Reset" was all that was needed to get the old heater working properly again. Seriously, I turned the thing off then on again and pushed the reset button and voila! Hot water was soon being produced and pumped through the pex piping to warm the floors and the air above. Still, I needed some quick boost in the form of fires in the livingroom and basement to take the edge off.


******

I had a follow-up appointment with the vascular team over at Robert-Packer Hospital today. I've not been experiencing any severe pains or anything else since I went to the ER several weeks ago so I expected a fairly routine check-up and an in-and-out visit.

The tech doing the pressure testing on my legs seemed moderately optimistic but ended her stint with a "We shall see." that produced some little concern.

Then it was Dr. B's turn. He and his physician's assistant declared my right leg A-Okay, but my left.... The left is a problem child. 

The left leg is the leg that started the whole mess. First the foot was pronounced DEAD at the Troy ER back in June of 2019.  Then, as the last staple and stitch was removed from the emergency bypass, an infection developed that had me back in the OR. That was followed by several weeks on an open wound vac. Then came a series of angioplasties (3? 4? I forget) because the vein used to bypass the blockage of June 1 was too thin. Then I had terrible pains in the quad muscle just above the knee the source of which could not be determined. Finally I had so much pain one morning I just couldn't put any weight on the left leg at all so it was back to the ER for a CAT Scan and other tests which showed deep bruising, a lump of tissue--perhaps dead or dying because of the lack of circulation--or some such.Then for two months--nothing! Things seemed to be back to a new normal.

Well, Dr. B didn't like what he saw from the tests today and declared I should have another angioplasty. This time, instead of just stretching things out with balloons and calling it a day, he will try to insert a stent in the upper portion of the bypass to keep it from narrowing down--again. 

Surgery is scheduled for bright and early Monday December 13. I'll have to go get tested for Covid the Thursday before that. The surgery itself will be a couple of hours long but they will keep me overnight.

Dr. B wanted to do the surgery earlier but that would mean no heavy lifting for a couple of weeks or so and deer season runs until December 11th and I wasn't going to give that up. As it is, if I can fill out a tag or two (three?) early the week before, I can relax after the Covid testing is done.

Friday, October 29, 2021

Firewood Finished

I finished splitting and stacking the the firewood yesterday. I managed to get eight stacks 18x18x48 inches. They are loosely stacked to allow some air circulation since the wood was pretty well moisturized by Mother Nature while in felled tree and cut to length form this summer and fall. Even so,my supply has nearly doubled and, if I use it judiciously, there should be enough to get us through the winter. 

Stacked Firewood

 

The wood under the light green tarp is the new stuff. The ten stacks in the left end, under the camo tarp is from last year and will be the first I burn. Everything is ash. 

I've got a couple of trees picked out for next year's supply and hope to get them down and cut into length after the hunting season. They are also ash trees that show signs of borer infestation. Two are close to the house but not so close as to require a pro to come in to drop them. Two smaller ones are on the edge of the same field in back that I took this year's three trees from.

Of course, that depends upon two things: 

1- Weather. Last year we got snow in mid-December and every so often until March. The worst part about that was that it never melted. It just kept getting deeper and deeper. 

2- Health. Even if the snow hadn't kept me out of the woods, my health would have. Too many trips to the vascular team and eventually surgery on my right leg (Yeah! I've now got matching scars!) plus other disorders that turned out to be the "rewards" for a full and active life.