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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Felling White Pine

"If a tree falls..."

We had a couple of big days this week!

The plan had been to take down many of the white pine on the farm this winter and have them sawed out.  We plan to get all the lumber we need for the homestead from our own land.  Well, we knew it needed to happen sometime before March....and guess what...February seemed to come early this year.  Meaning, we almost waited too long to set up the whole logging operation.

About two weeks ago Nate turned to Denise and said, "I think we should check into getting the white pine down."  Well little did either of them realize that the end of the logging season was in full swing and the beginning of sugaring season was right around the corner.

Nate started making the phone calls.  

Our friend Noel (Mighty Man of the Woods!) had agreed long ago to help us fell the trees.  A quick call to him helped us realize that this would be a feat of logistics and timing to pull off.  We needed to line up people to help limb the pines once they were down.  Then we needed to get a skidder and driver (we knew this and thought there was one on every corner around here).  Then we needed to check the weather.  Was the day too windy?  Was there a chance of rain?  Sub-zero temps? Giant asteroid on a near collision course?

We were able to line up some help.  Ken and Bob to the rescue!  

And as for a skidder?  Well, first Nate called Bruce but his tractor winch wasn't hooked up.  Bruce recommended calling Joe, but Joe's tractor wasn't big enough.  Joe recommended Tom, Lon, Elvin, or Rick...he thought we have the best luck with Rick.  So we called Rick....and yes!  Rick was available on the day we wanted.  Great!  Now we needed a big saw.  Ken to the rescue again.  

So two days before the cutting Nate drops the big saw off to Noel and Noel says, "Have you seen the weather forecast for the day you want to cut?  Wet snow and more importantly winds over 20mph.  That's not good."  No sweat....let's postpone it a week, the weather looks good then.

Three days later...the weather is calling for rain and wind on a day that only three days ago had a big sunshine on it.  Nate goes into hyper drive.  Phone calls to the helpers, "How about Monday instead of Wednesday?"  Quickly he figures out that one day won't be enough.  They plan for Monday and Tuesday.

A call to Rick, "Can you skid on Tuesday if we cut on Monday?"  His response, "No....but my brother Todd can with his smaller skidder."  

Great!  We'll take it.

Nate calls work last minute, "Can I have Monday off, and switch my regular day off from Wednesday to Tuesday?  Pretty please?!?"  They agree.  There is a sigh of relief.

Nate does have to go into work until 9:30am to help unload the weekly delivery truck.  Then he races from Lowville to Belfort and he and Noel start cutting.  Soon Ken is on the scene lending a hand.  Later Bob is there and things are humming.

About 3:00pm everyone is dead.  Noel has cut down 26 huge trees and has gotten hit by a big branch.  He later tells Nate that if he hadn't turned his back to it as it fell he's certain it would have broken his collar bone.  Thank you God!  Bob has got to go and so does Ken.  Nate stays and limbs until 6:00pm.  Denise and the kids come up to see the carnage (of the trees - not Nate).

Nate goes home and eats more food than he's eaten in a long time, takes a hot shower, two advil, and sleeps with a heating pad on his back. 

Nate meets Todd at 7:30am and they begin to skid out trees.  Noel and his friend Todd (different Todd than the skidder dude) show up and drop 9 more trees.  Ken shows up and starts limbing again with Nate.  By 1:30pm Noel, Todd and Ken have left and Todd (the skidder dude) and Nate are left.  They work like mad men until 3:45pm to skid out the last logs.

Final count - 32 full length trees taken out and about a dozen smaller pieces as well.

The temperature spikes to almost 40 degrees and it rains all day.  We are so thankful we bumped up this whole operation and avoided this mess of a day.

If this makes you tired to read....just think about actually doing it all.  We never could have done it without Noel, Ken, Bob, Todd and Todd!  Thank you guys!

Here's a video recap of the adventure.  It is a 10 min. video.  If the whole thing doesn't play here is the direct link to it on YouTube.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Winter Project

We haven't been sleeping on the job this winter.  Just because there is not much to do up on the farm doesn't mean there isn't much to do.  Over the next few days we'll bring you up to speed with the happenings around these parts.

One thing we will need for the cordwood home are glass bottles.  These bottles will go into the wall, just like a log, and make a decorative addition.  In the fall I struck up a conversation with the owner of a local restaurant named Jeb's.  

I told him about the house we were building and the need for colored glass bottles.  He was happy to let me cart away all the empty bottles I needed.  In fact my ritual this whole winter was, every Monday, to stop by the bar on my way home from work.  I'm not a drinker - but the back room always had a few boxes of bottles waiting for us.  Before we knew it we had a basement full.

Here is a bit of picture summary of what we did with them.  Followed by a video.

First they came home in boxes.

Then, into the sink to soak off the labels.

Then, after a good scrubbing with the bottle brush and some soap it was dry time.

 We found that the top of the gas stove was the best place to dry bottles.  Here is a typical scene in the living room this winter.

Finally it was time to organize by color and get them re-boxed and ready to ship off to our secret storage facility deep in the heart of Lewis County (we'll share more on this later).  We counted 221 bottles as of February 9, 2013.  I think we'll call it quits for a while.

 Greens, light greens, yellow greens, browns, blues, and a few reds...just to name a few colors.

 Loaded into the van for transport to the secret stash.