Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

Chop and Burn

Concluding the story of how I spent my working weekend in Mehama:

It took so long to get the lumber straightened away that Lisa decided to just stack the wood for later and move on to the next task, which was replacing the lower radiator hose in the Small Orange Pickup. No pictures here, because there wasn't anything interesting, just an hour of draining fluid and fussing with radiator hoses and tools. As usual, I held tools and ran errands while Lisa did the work and cursed at the equipment.

Leaving the pickup to sit for a while, we moved on to the derelict telephone pole.

Lisa's father bought this pole years ago, intending to use it as a mast from which to suspend amateur radio antennas, but never got around to having the hole dug and the pole planted. Instead, it has sat here in the yard, slowly rotting and sinking deeper and deeper into the field and making it difficult to mow in this area. We needed to cut it up into pieces, not to burn (it's soaked with creosote and not to be burned), but to make the pieces light enough to pick up and haul away.

Lisa got out the electric chainsaw and extension cords, and I got a pry-bar and boards. By wedging a heavy pry-bar under the pole and using the boards for a fulcrum, I was able to stand on the bar and lift one end off the ground, whereupon Lisa put other boards under the pole. This got the pole sufficiently high to where she could slice off approximately 75 cm-long pieces.

These pieces weighed, I estimated, between 20 and 30 kg, which I could (barely) lift into the rolling cart and take over to the "coal seam" and dump in with all of the other wood and other organic debris.

The only reason for cutting was to make it portable. If we'd had a way to move the entire pole, we would have hauled it in one piece. This picture is after ten cuts, and has reduced the pole in half. The pole is really larger than the 14-inch electric chainsaw was intended to cut, and Lisa was really tired after having done this much, combined with all of the other stuff we'd done earlier.

Speaking of which: We hauled another couple cart-loads of burnable wood debris to the burn barrel and set it off while we were working on the telephone pole. Before that, I moved the barrel and grate away and Lisa got a big magnet, so we could sift out all of the metal from the ashes. I hauled the waste ash -- not very much of that -- to the coal seam and dug out the space under the grate to make more room and a better draft.

Lisa kindled a very hot fire, as you can see in this photo. The owner of the hardware store (which is located over the fence beyond the property) had commented on our burning the previous day, "What were you trying to burn -- the barrel?" And with the glow this thing was giving off and the nice hot vortex of flame shooting into the air, it's not surprising why he'd say that. You can see the hose at the ready in the background.

In between hauling pole remnants and standing on pry-bars, I would feed more wood into this barrel as the supply burnt down. That got tricky at times, because it was so hot. You could definitely feel the heat coming off of that thing. When it eventually burnt out, there was only a tiny bit of ash in the hole underneath, which is of course the point of such conflagrations.

After cutting half a telephone pole, burning several carts of debris, and other other sundry yard work, Lisa and I were pretty tired. She decided to put off cutting the other half of the pole for another day and packed up the chainsaw and extension cords into the hand cart to haul back to the house. I got the camera to take some of the pictures above. While I was shooting the picture of the coal seam, I heard Lisa give out a whoop from across the field. I turned and took this picture:

She'd tripped and landed flat on her back in the field. I didn't realize it at the time (or else I wouldn't have stopped to take a picture), but this hurt a lot more than I expected. It's fortunate that it's a grassy field and thus relatively soft, but she was not feeling like getting up right away.

Realizing this was more serious than I thought at first, I ran over to help. After a few minutes, she got her wind back and I helped her get the gear stored away, after which I put away the heavy pry bar. We fed no more wood to the burn barrel, which was now starting to gutter out (although it was still quite hot, so the hose stayed in place for a while).

One last task was to examine the radiator hose repair on the pickup. Lisa tightened the clamp some more -- we hope that is all that was causing a bit of spotting under the truck -- and backed it back in to the garage.

It was now after 7 PM and burning is supposed to be over by then. We only went a little bit overtime, and thanks to the heat, we had very little annoying smoke. When the fire was nothing but ashes, we put away the hose and the remaining tools, closed up the garage, and went and had dinner and tended to our blisters.

Lisa seems pretty happy with the amount of work I got done while I was up there. I would have accomplished more if I hadn't been working 14-hour days for my employer much of the time. (I wasn't the only one; it's been a hectic week there, with more to come.) The days are very long this time of year, of course, which means more daylight during which to get jobs done. There's still more to do. Indeed, with a property like this, there is always something else to do, but I am, you might say, "earning my keep" and justifying using Lisa's father's resources when I stay up there.
Tags: lisa, mehama

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