Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Survival Wood Cutting - Day 2 at my Lot
Day two of wood cutting had me limited to my own wood lot. There was actually more of a load this year than there has been in previous years.
Two Winters ago I took on an experiment of cutting a full load of wood completely by hand. The only fossil fuel I used directly was in the form of the tractor to pull a small trailer. This was to simulate a trailer being pulled by a horse.
The first conclusion I came to was the wooded areas of North America would quickly begin to look like the cleaner forests of Europe because without chainsaws I assure you most people would be relying on fallen dead wood as much as possible. I am sure there are a few mighty lumberjacks reading that will swear they can bring down a tree in one Paul Bunyon type swing of an axe but for myself I would stick to smaller trees as much as possible. The less splitting and cross saw cutting by hand the better.
Although I used modern day tools this morning cutting wood from my own lot is more like survival firewood gathering than when I cut somewhere else.
Around my own lot I usually limit myself to dead limbs or trees that need to go for some other reason. This typically limits the need for a whole lot of splitting as I leave the large trees alive to continue supplying me with burnable limbs.
I do however have one dead standing Elm that needs to be completely taken down the only problem is it is located at a triple fence line junction and sits in the middle of the largest wild rose thicket I have ever seen.
What I have been doing with this tree is waiting for the limbs to fall off and then dragging them out with the tractor and cutting them up. The bottom few feet or so of the massive trunk has years of wire grown into it and there is absolutely no way to drop this tree without cutting through the wire and then allowing it to fall on the fence line.
Luckily the wild rose keeps the limbs from damaging the fence when they do fall. As it is I have gleaned about two full truckloads of firewood off it's corpse the last two years. When those limbs finally all fall off I am letting the trunk rot because it isn't worth tearing up my chainsaw chains on it.
Now that some of the underbrush is dying off I discovered another big Elm that is not long for this world.
I am not sure what is eating it's main trunk away so badly. My guess is it is a stage of Dutch Elm Disease which we see so frequently around here. I end up burning a lot of Elm due to the constant attrition rate the disease has on mature Elms.
Here is the top part of the dying Elm. As you can see it isn't a small tree at all and the upper branches are already starting to die off on the left side of this picture. I will probably go ahead and drop this tree down this Winter and either cut it up or let it lay to cure for next Winter. With a scar like that on it's trunk and branches beginning to die it isn't long for this world and clearing it out will give it's off spring more light and nutrients to grow up and replace it.
This is the split pile for this year so far. I have another pile about that big left over from last year to add to it. I save the stuff that needs splitting for those days I cannot get out but need more wood. I also keep a bunch on hand for when we get a major snow storm predicted. When that happens I pull out the log splitter and split an entire load of firewood and pack the truck bed full then lash down a tarp over it. This way I have some real weight in the back of the truck for emergency snow travel. Also if you have followed my blog you will know that without fail the wife will try and go to work in the snow and she will call me to come get her.
Last year I got so sick of her ignoring the major storm warnings that I finally took her keys so she wouldn't leave for work and get trapped or stuck.
I am still getting some "I told you so" mileage out of those incidents.
Day two was a pretty good haul of mostly stuff that doesn't need to be split. A load mixture of White Oak, Locust, Hickory and Elm. The furnace stack of wood is now completely filled and I have gotten a long way on the road to getting the reserve built back up where they need to be. At least I am more comfortable with it than I was.
Two other things of note happened today. The first was this can of small engine fuel.
Apparently some friend of my Dads gave him this can of fuel and he stuck it in my truck. It had a tag on it priced at $5.95. I was shaking my head about that can all day. I mean it's like 32 ounces. Who in their right mind would pay that much for fuel? I mean I guess it might be useful for storage purposes but it's still silly. I got such a laugh out of it I had to share.
The second area of concern is a smallish Black and White dog. I have been seeing him at least three times a day for the last week or so and he came up to say hi while I was cutting in my wood lot this morning. He appears well fed but I am worried I may have another stray on my hands.
I hope not.
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!