Looking at my calendar you can take a big black marker and cross out great swaths of September. This means two things: First, whatever firewood I fail to amass right now will be set in stone for the winter and we’ll surely freeze. Second, you’ve totally messed up my garage’s pinup calendar. Now I’m going to have frozen pipes and a messed up calendar. You monster!
First, a win; a speedy turnaround. We had a killer windstorm. That wasn’t a win… in fact it sucked. It took out the power, blew some trees down, and freaked out the duck. But I’m all about finding the silver lining in a shit sandwich so a tree that fell on the lawn was in my sights. Four days after the wind trashed the tree I had it whacked and stacked on the pony trailer. The following weekend it was in the woodshed. It wasn’t a big tree but I was pleased with the fast transition. I’ve occasionally left a tree mouldering in the yard for years. Getting one “cleaned up” in 11 calendar days is the kind of epic efficiency usually reserved for retired men. Not bad.
Next came a Gordian knot that’s not yet solved. In my forest the wind really tore up everything. Of interest was a nice overstory tree. It split 30′ off the ground. Half still stands, a bit asymmetrical but likely to last a while. I’d like to retain it. The other half came down willy nilly into a stand of thrifty young trees. It sent several of them to Valhalla and suspended itself on broken and bent and killed and live trees alike. It even speared a few limbs straight into the ground like fenceposts. All this and it never fully released itself from its trunk of origin.
It’s a great kinetic tensioned web of doom with a deadfall mass hovering 10 feet above my head. It’s a mousetrap fit to kill a musk ox.
I spent a few hours nibbling at the edges. Nipping a branch here SPRONG and releasing a limb there SNAP. Several telephone pole sized trees were still firmly rooted but bent at unnatural angles by the behemoth above. I’d slip in, fire up my chainsaw, make a few surgical cuts, and watch as a severed bole or removed top would break free and make the whole mess shift and twist in hard to discern patterns above my head.
It’s three dimensional chess and I haven’t yet gotten the beast tamed.
After a couple hours I’d had enough time with a gargantuan sword of Damocles weighing on my mind. I shut down the saw and put it far out of the danger zone. Then I slipped in and out with the ATV’s winch cable. I grabbed what I could and dragged bits of limb and trunks away where it was safer. What a relief that I didn’t bring down a mountain on whatever idiocy I’ve got under my hard hat.
This is not the first time I’ve wished for a different tool in the toolbox. Something crude and simple and cheap that would separate the busted mess from the bole without jeopardizing man or machine. Time for a rant:
“There are occasional times and places where releasing kinetic energy is best done from afar. Like 200 yards and three minutes away from the excitement. There is a cheap technology for doing that. It’s called dynamite and in times of yore it was no big deal. Now, our regulated urban society thinks such things are the stuff of Wile E Coyote cartoons and terrorist jackwits.
Latte sipping urbanite shitheads can’t imagine my world but I’m stuck with their regulations. It’s not just me, it’s thousands of us. Any man who’s crawling around beneath twenty tons of suspended unforgiving physics because a $9 stick of BOOM scares the squares is in his own little purgatory.
In a just world every pansy that posits a regulation that denies an honest redneck the tools of his trade would be forced to get out there and face it himself. Don’t like the idea of gap toothed yokels playing with noisy destructive toys? Then get off your trust funder’s ass and knock down a couple tons of tensioned mass with an iPad or an English degree or whatever tools with which you’re comfortable. Getting corkscrewed into the soil would be a teaching moment and keep you from making my life hell. Eventually I’d be able to by dynamite at WalMart; as God intended.”
But I digress. I swore a few oaths and backed off. Give it a few weeks in the wind and see if it “settles”.
The next day was cold and misty. Fuck it! Are we not men? I stood in the mist and split some of the wood. The mist got worse. I was almost done. By then it was raining. Bah, it’s just a little rain. I started tossing firewood in the trailer. All I wanted to do was clear up some of the stuff I’d already cut. The ran worsened. I positioned the trailer. It was getting windy too but I only had a small amount left to do.
By the time I was done stacking firewood I was in a full on downpour. I managed to top off the pile. I’m up to two full cords. Roughly 8,000 pounds. The equivalent of five smart cars stacked in the woodshed, all done by hand. Not enough for winter but more than I’d started with.
As I sloshed toward the house I glanced at the forest, now obscured by the rain. Maybe the wind will bring down my 60′ tall Jenga Game. Maybe not. I’ll think about it some other day.