Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Biting off More than I Could Chew

Thursday was overcast, but not too badly so.  I headed out to the bush early with the ATV, and pulled in what I thought was a 16' log I had cut a few months ago.  It was a rough, difficult ride, but when I got it to the mill, I realized that it was (surprise), probably about 18' long.  When you don't have a measuring device with you, you tend to err on the side of caution!

The difficult, jarring trip with that monster convinced me that I didn't want to haul too many more large logs without modifying my system.

Grandpa showed up as I was preparing to head back into the bush.  He had noted a standing dead pine that he had a hunch contained a few good boards still in it.  He started cutting it, while I went further down the trial (Freudian slip - trail) to grab two previously cut 7' logs that were estimated to also provide a few 2x4's.  I returned with the trailer and we loaded up what he had cut in the way of firewood.  I noted that he had managed to find two 10' logs that were also of decent size.

Grandpa retired for the day after that, and I thought I might do the same, but then after lunch got a second wind and instead opted to try to go back to skid out the 10' logs he had cut.  I figured that as long as I could still get up the slipperiest slope, I may as well continue with the groove I was in.

The first log skidded ok, although it did catch on a root once that jarred a few of my fillings loose.  I don't like subjecting the ATV to that sort of abuse!  Let alone my own body.

The second I experimented by strapping it to our old toboggan.  This did, and didn't really work.  While it stayed on the toboggan, it worked great, clearly much easier to slide over the uneven trail.  But it often tipped over, and then it was just as bad as ever.  I am currently brainstorming a skidding cone of some sort.  If anyone has any ideas, I'd love to hear them!

After skidding out all the logs available, there was still a few hours of daylight left, and some steam left in my body, and room in the last woodshed.  I checked with Donna and then headed back to the bush to try to bring in one more load of firewood.  This time I went to the very end of the accessible trail.  I figure that I should probably try to get the furthest wood first, so that if the trails get bogged down later in the season, I don't have to fight my way quite as far to get firewood.

There was a large, tall and straight jackpine that marked the junction between our old hiking trail and the new ATV trail.  I moved the ATV far away, and proceeded with my cut.

Of course, the tree tipped back away from my first wedge cut, pinning my chainsaw.  Sigh.  I still consider myself a real novice at tree felling, so this wasn't completely unexpected.  Just an opportunity to learn.

Foreseeing this in a previous life, I had purchased a pair of felling wedges a couple of months ago.  I've never seen Grandpa use them.  He tends to use a nearby pole to push trees that aren't leaning right, or to hook up the comealong high up the tree and try to pull it where he wants it.  This sort of makes me nervous.  With the comealong you have to take extra time, and you are usually within a few degrees of where you are trying to make the tree fall.  Of course, the wedges mean that I'm right at the base of the tree, so perhaps there is a danger there too.

Anyway.  I first knocked off some of the bark around my back cut, to better see where to insert the wedges.  I pushed the tree and managed to move it enough to get the tip of the wedge in.  I used the back of the axe to drive it a bit further, and then added the second wedge a few inches off to the side of the first one.  Briefly alternating between the two, I was quickly able to expand the cut enough to extract my saw.  A bit more tapping, and I started to see and hear the telltale signs that she was going over.  I stepped back a few paces and yelled "Timber!"

Surprisingly, it fell exactly where I wanted!  It did take a single bounce that jerked directly towards me, stopping a few feet short, but still illustrating the tremendous (and dangerous) power that a falling tree has.

I whipped out my four foot measuring stick, and bucked the tree into segments that were about 6" shy of the full four feet.

Loading the sections closest to the butt of the tree made me somewhat rethink my notion of cutting such long sections.  These ones felt rather heavy!

I loaded the trailer up to what I thought was full, and then realized there was only a little bit more to go and I wouldn't have to make a second trip - of course I decided to go for it!

I strapped the whole thing down, and set off...  Within the first few metres, I had to break out the winch to climb a small rise.  A few metres after that, repeat.

I wasn't discouraged, I knew that after I got past these sections, it was a long section of mostly flat area...  I started to move at a good pace and then rounded a corner before BAM!  The party was over.





Past the axle!  I knew this was a wet, soft spot, but there must have been a crust of frozen ice or soil that finally broke through.  There was no way to avoid it.  I would have to unload the trailer.  Sigh.






I unloaded the trailer, lifted it by hand and simply deposited it so that it straddled this sinkhole.  Then reloaded it, and as soon as I began moving again, who should arrive but Donna and Kenny!  Apparently my long absence had made their hearts grow fonder (and their worries grow larger...)  It was nice to see them, but there was no time for pleasantries - I knew I had a few more rough patches to manage.  Which I did!  I got the load back to the last woodshed, and spent the remainder of my time cutting and splitting what will probably be the largest load I take with that trailer, on those trails...

I've said it before, but I'll say it again - happiness is a full woodshed!  I even had enough left over to begin piling it outside of our current woodshed - in anticipation of it being emptied out within the next week or two.  I'm really trying to stay ahead of our needs this season - and the ATV is helping with that tremendously!

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