Friday, September 16, 2011
Fire Season is Around the Corner
We started in late spring taking down a 100 year old oak that had died up in the cow pasture. My brother Chris, his father-in-law Ray, David and I worked all one day cutting the smaller tops and starting on the trunk. My brother decided it was too big to mess with and said we could have it. Good hardwood that we can get to easily is hard to come by and David was determined to harvest this tree. He whittled away at it over the summer, working a few hours at a time on cooler mornings, reducing the double trunks- each two feet across-into 16 inch sections, the length of our wood stove. Finally two weekends ago, Ray returned to the scene with D and I and we spent 8 hours with the hydraulic splitter reducing that monster to stove size pieces. Over the course of the next week we hauled it back down to the house, first in the trailer and I finished it up on Wednesday using the pick-up truck for the last two loads. I think all in all it made about 6 truck loads, probably 3 cords, and should get us not only through the coldest weather this season but probably into next fall.
The downed tree had started to rot while it was still standing, so it had a million grubs and beetles and larvae tunneling and eating away at the bark. All around and under the logs were toads and lizards. David said "we upset a few ecosystems" as we dismantled that scene of decay. The splitter popped some of the logs apart in neat slabs, other times it tore at the red fibrous wood of the tree, stretching and pulling at the sinewy grain. As I pushed and pulled the lever of the splitter over and over I thought the wood looked like pot roast or some other red meat. Some logs revealed the ancient core of branches and burls, I could see the strength that lay within the wood, able to hold that tree so tall and solid, but I could also sense the amount of energy that had been captured there, by years of sun and rain and photosynthesis. Now that energy will be translated back into heat to keep us warm this winter.
I always say "You gotta love a project that has you moving heavy objects multiple times". In this case; onto the splitter, onto the trailer, off of the trailer, onto the wood pile and later, into the other wood pile and then finally into the fire. Who needs Curves?