10 July 2008

Some serious wood

One man, one chain saw, one tank of gas... and the fight still isn't over.

Just taking a short R&R... that's "Refuel and Rehydrate" to all you city slickers... from my ongoing one-man skirmish with Mother Nature.

Lest you imagine this is a lopsided contest, my current opponent is a huge half-dead aspen that's been looming over the access road we've cut through the woods out back. It's gotta be close to 18 inches in diameter at 4 feet off the ground, and if I don't take it down myself, it could come down at a less opportune moment... like on Mrs. Neo on her daily constitutional.

It's just ice-cream that we heat with wood.

I thought I was gonna be able to drop the sucker cleanly across the road... and have it limbed and bucked into lengths in about an hour, but Mr. Murphy has reared his ugly head and dictated otherwise.

First, it didn't fall as cleanly as I expected and snagged on another tree across the road about eighty feet off the ground. I tried hooking up to it with the snatch strap and yanking with the truck, but only succeeded in swinging the back of the vehicle over, gently kissing another tree.

After cutting into it another 4 feet up the trunk, the bottom once again dropped to the ground and now has an even more acute lean. And, of course, upon going for another 4 feet... I ran out of gas.

As a bonus... with all the extra jumpin' around in 80 degree heat... I got a little sloppy and grazed my leg with the saw. Fortunately, it was an oblique swipe and I was wearing double layer work pants... so the whirling shark teeth didn't blaze all the way through to meat and bone.

So the score right now is tied at zero... if you don't count the cracked tail-light and the ripped pants.

But don't you worry Mr. Aspen... I'll be back to kick your recalcitrant cellulose ass.

And that cold beer will taste all the sweeter.


ROUND TWO: Goes to my opponent

The picture above shows where I got back into it.

I started in again with one four foot section already off the bottom of the tree. Two more cuts and I had another eight feet off 'er, which, unfortunately, very nearly stood the tree back up vertical. That, of course, makes the physics a tad more interesting.

Anyway... I ended up dancing around the trunk, trying to finesse things... and got the bar pinched when the cut snapped closed. The moral of this story is to always make sure you've got your wedges handy. I didn't, so that one's on me.

Anyway, that was it for tonight. Unbolted the saw from the stuck bar and headed for the castle. I'll have to throw on my spare to finish the job tomorrow morning. On the plus side, in all my back and forth from the house, I spotted a big doe coming out of the forest to feed.

All in all, despite the complications... a singularly satisfying afternoon.

Stand by for Round Three... "Revenge of the Two Ton Come-along."


LAST WORD: Round three... and victory is mine

Once I had the rig in place... my arboreal friend didn't last 10 seconds.

Lesson learned... "Use your brain, not your back."



Nathan said...

Ummm, you probably need to sharpen your chain and make sure it cuts straight and wear safety 'chaps'.

Just a suggestion.

Neo Conservative said...

nope... chain's nice and sharp... this one's not about the cutting.

my leaner is snagged pretty good way up high and i've just gotta bring it home without getting swatted like a bug.

thing is, the bush really needs a good thinning... it's hard to get a clean drop right now.

so far i've cut three 4 foot sections off the bottom, which only makes the angle more acute. right now this thing is almost standing straight up again.

i should actually be wearing a helmet... and, as of this afternoon, chaps are definitely on the shopping list.


Anonymous said...

You need to drop the tree it is leaning against. Keep going the way you are and you will drop the tree on top of your self. Of course you have to be careful with the other tree. You should have put the first tree down in the road. This is from an old guy who grew up in the lumber woods.

Neo Conservative said...

"ivan says... You need to drop the tree it is leaning against."

ivan... i'm just not seeing that one. that would seem to place me right in the killing zone of the first tree.

details? i'm all ears.

i was initially trying to drop it in a clear space across the road, but it was already weighted to one side and i didn't compensate enough for that.

what i think i really need is a great deal on a dozer or a skidder.


Neo Conservative said...

p.s. to ivan...

i can see how you might be misled by the picture. that was taken after i cut a section off the base and the tree swung out further into the road.

the stump is actually about ten more feet back off into the woods. you're right, it would have been smarter to drop it right onto the road... i just didn't have that option.


Anonymous said...

You have to be very, very careful. If you have not been brought up in the lumber business, get a big tractor and someone who knows what they are doing. That thing will kill you in a heart beat if you make a mistake. I have seen people hurt bad from a tree like that one. I still have all my body parts but have had some close calls.

Neo Conservative said...

ivan, thanks for the advice.

i think i've got it figured out... i'm gonna use a come-along to snatch the base of the trunk.

trust me... i don't take it lightly. i'll make sure i'm behind something solid when i pull the trigger.

and you're right... one of our neighbours down the way was killed felling trees a couple of years back... by a rotted trunk that cracked and windmilled on him.

i think about it every time i bite into a suspect tree.


Anonymous said...

Ah, reminds me of the time my brother and I went Christmas tree hunting. Not on one of those tame lots, either. One tree down, lodged. Took that one down too(they were smaller trees than yours obviously - we were using axes), lodged. Abandon those ones. Next: lodged. We obviously didn't pick up much by watching my dad do this...

And to top it off, this was on our neighbour's property. Shhhh.

Of course, dad, now in his late 70s, seems to have gotten a bit rusty. Just last weekend we had to take down a tamarack that was misbehaving (too close to the house). We limbed it as high as we could (we of the Goneaux tribe be short-arsed) so the tomato plants didn't get hit...but not so high up to make sure the clothes line didn't get pinged.

This was complicated by the fact that his brand new rebuilt saw kept crapping out when turned sideways, and he had to use his back up saw.

And to be fair, ultimately, he was only 6 inches off where he wanted to put it.

Good luck and be safe.

Neo Conservative said...

"jag says... And to be fair, ultimately, he was only 6 inches off where he wanted to put it."

well, ivan is bang on... big trees demand your respect... if you get it wrong... a rotted trunk, a bit of wind, weighted to one side, whatever... they can, in the blink of an eye, change your horoscope.

over time you get better at spotting the dangers... but even so, you get tired, you get sloppy... like fannin' your leg with the bar.

they say lumberjackin', even with modern equipment, is one of the most dangerous professions in the country.

i'm a bit of a history buff... and back in the 1800's and early 1900's here in hastings county... there are numerous instances of folks being killed or maimed by falling trees.

we assume, with our modern tools, it couldn't happen to us.

trust me... false assumption.

i'll just pull this one down with my straps... it's just too hairy to cut any further.


Anonymous said...


Sometimes, dynamite is the answer!

Neo Conservative said...

"anon whispers... Sometimes, dynamite is the answer!"

actually, for cutting trees... you'd use "det cord"... or you'd just end up with matchsticks.

i remember back in the 80's going to visit my ex-girlfriend's grandfather up near bancroft.

he talked about using dynamite to blast rock to make a road into his property.

some pretty funny (translation... no one died) stories about calculating how many sticks was needed to shift a rather large boulder.

nowadays you don't get near that stuff without a license and a stack of permits... probably not a bad thing.


Anonymous said...

All to true, Neo. My dad taught me very early to respect big work like this, whether falling trees or digging a ditch (harder then it sounds sometimes, and dangerous).

In this case, the tree is literally three feet from the house (er, was) and consider lightening hit a tree just on the other side of the lawn last year...you takes yer chances either way.

Still, my 17 year old son did learn a few things seeing his 77 year old grampa put a 50 foot tree 18 inches from where he said it would go (there is math in there somewhere...).

Neo Conservative said...

"jag says... Still, my 17 year old son did learn a few things seeing his 77 year old grampa put a 50 foot tree 18 inches from where he said it would go."

yup... there's some math and some experience involved.

i took down a dead maple for my father-in-law in toronto, which involved both dropping it on his front yard only... and duking around the hydro line to the house.

got a nice pile of firewood outta that one.

it also saved the 800 dollars the tree service people had quoted... and that didn't include grinding the stump.

p.s. -- main post updated... man 1 - tree 0