Despite what I wrote yesterday, I really do know a little bit about handling a light chain saw. However, it has been about twenty-five years since I last had to do so. Lisa had done this kind of work more recently than me, and besides, a sensible split of the work load puts the one with the
To recap, we have several piles of brush and logs around the property that are the result of the Christmas 2008 and New Year's night 2009 storms. We've been waiting for not-raining weather (sun is too much to ask for) in order to get out and clear some of this stuff away.
Last Friday afternoon was sort of clear. I was able to knock off work a little early by dint of having worked late the night before getting a presentation done earlier than expected. So outside we went. I had somewhat rugged clothes on, but later realized how foolish I was to have not packed any long-sleeve shirts. I got too warm working in my jacket, and ended up with scratches and pitch on my arms. Maybe I should have asked Lisa to find my coveralls for this.
There's enough debris that the small hand-carts aren't enough. We needed the large trailer, which, although the wood floor is rotting to bits, was big enough to hold a cubic meter or two of stuff. To haul it, she fired up the big John Deere lawn mower, which has a tow-ball on it to facilitate this sort of thing.
This picture is from a previous use of the mower and trailer. The mower, which hadn't been started since the Holiday Storm, was very balky. We hooked the trailer to the mower and Lisa drove it out to what I'd called Brush Pile 1. That's not the large one I talked about a few days ago, but a smaller one containing some of the first piles of branches.
We hauled two trailer-loads to the "coal seam," pictured above. It looks a little more impressive than it should because we're tossing the fresh, green stuff on top of the existing old, brown stuff in this old stream bed.
After the second load, Lisa said she'd better go refuel the mower and drove over to the farm fuel tank. She had to shut off the motor in order to safely refuel, of course. She'd left it running while we were doing the earlier work because of concerns about how grumpy the motor sounded. Unfortunately, after refueling, she found that the engine would not restart. So we had to unhitch the trailer and wrestle it aside by hand. (It's still parked on the opposite side of the property, over toward our place.) She then got some sturdy rope and drove the VW Vanagon over and tied the mower to the tow hooks on the back of the Vanagon. I rode on the mower as she slowly and carefully drove across the open field, towing the mower back to the garage. I couldn't steer the mower, but was there in order to apply the hand-brake if necessary.
After shoving the mower back into the garage, Lisa decided that we might as well try to use the chainsaw, since hauling the bulky branches was off the table until she could get the mower company to come out and take the mower in for repairs and general servicing. Maybe they'll have time to do it now, before things get busy when lawns start needing to be mowed in the spring.
Here's how things stood after the two hauls of brush. To the left here is the pile of logs we wanted to cut into future firewood. On the right you can see a bit of the ground discoloration where the brush pile was.
Before getting to the smaller logs, it was time to free the partially-fallen tree from the old pump house. This building is important in many ways, including the fact that there are power outlets here, so it is our base of operations for cutting the various trees in this area. Given the damp nature of the area, the GFCI-wired outlets make us feel somewhat safer when stringing 25 meters of extension cord around behind us.
Lisa climbed on top of the pump house and carefully started cutting firewood-length pieces off the end of the tree.
My job was to pick up the pieces and carry them to the small hand-cart, and of course to be safety lookout. There's no way Lisa would have risked this work without a reliable helper. After a while she got the tree to the point where she could come back down and make The Big Cut, which would drop the remaining trunk of the tree to the ground clear of the pump house. She cut away the last of the supporting side branches, and we confirmed that very little if any of the weight of that tree had been being actually resting on the pump house. The tortured roots of the tree were still holding most of the weight.
This chain saw isn't really designed to be big enough for cutting through this big of a log; however, with so much lateral force on the tree, Lisa was able to saw through far enough that gravity did the best.
The biggest piece of the trunk cracked through and fell to the ground, where is is no longer a threat to anyone.
Lisa started to cut this fallen tree into smaller pieces, but decided to leave the biggest part of the tree for her brother to come and cut (with a larger saw) and take to his home in Salem. The key thing here is that the pump house is no longer in danger. We retired for the day and ordered a pizza, congratulating ourselves for having finally cleared that darn tree.
On Saturday, we turned our attention to the largest pile of usable logs. Some of these logs may seem somewhat small, but we don't have the heart to waste them.
After a few bits of trial and error, we worked out a routine. I would hold the logs on a couple of conveniently-shaped branches (with lots of side-branches to hold the logs steady) and push the branch forward while Lisa would cut off firewood-length pieces. After doing this for a while, we'd stop and fill the hand-cart with wood, and then take it over to the wood shed for storage and seasoning.
This timing worked out pretty well for us. After cutting a cart-load of wood, it was a good time to take a short break, and if necessary, do necessary saw safety checks like chain tension and oil.
(We did take quite a few breaks, actually, because Lisa was bidding on several eBay items that ended that afternoon, and wanted to go back and check them periodically. Besides, neither of us is in our top fighting trim, so we had to pace ourselves and not try to do too much at once.)
To our immense relief, we managed to completely reduce that log pile, and were even able to get started on a second, smaller one nearby. Unfortunately, a few drops of rain began to fall. GFCI or not, Lisa isn't eager to operate an electric appliance in the rain. We did rush through cutting as many logs as we could without concern for hauling them away before the rain got too heavy to be considered safe. Lisa put away the saw and we hauled the last of the cut logs to the shed. While we were doing this, I also hauled a load of seasoned logs over to her father's house, split pieces where necessary, and filled up his wood box.
With these things accomplished, the woodshed locked, and the tools put away, we headed back inside out of the rain, where Lisa made a very satisfying meal for us. I finally got to take my shower for today -- and most grateful I was for it, too; I used up all of our hot water taking it as my sore muscles protested. After we both got settled away, we ran in to Salem for groceries. I don't know about Lisa, whose tinnitus still troubles her, but last night I slept like one of the logs we were sawing.
Today it rained, so there's no more outside work we can get done. Unfortunately, the long-range forecast projects rain all this coming week through Saturday, too. Still, I think we got a fair bit done Friday and Saturday, and so does Lisa's father.