Thursday, February 11, 2016
Cutting Up Locust Trees
I got the tailgate board fitted and attached to the trailer this morning, fired up the 8N which took a while because it was rather cold. I had to let her idle with the choke out for quite a bit before she would move. Hooked up the trailer and went down to the back to start cutting off my own little woodlot.
There is just something much more satisfying about cutting your own trees off your own property. Sadly I only have enough woods to give me maybe two loads a year on average so it isn't something I get to enjoy often enough. I keep hoping all the young trees I let grow will eventually keep up to the wood use around here but I doubt it will happen in my lifetime.
Today's target was a Honey Locust that had grown into three main trunks each about as big around as my torso. They been standing dead for a couple of years now but I have left them alone because with Locust you kinda have to be careful and it only takes a year or so after they die for them to begin shedding their bark and a lot of those dreaded thorns along with it.
Four things you need to keep in mind when cutting Locust trees....
1. They can hurt ya bad quick and in ways other trees only dream about. Falling limbs with six inch spikes all over them brings with it an entirely different dynamic to tree felling.
2. They can kill ya dead pretty quick too. Not only are they covered with six inch spikes they have a tendency to grow in odd directions, get intertwined and never seem to want to fall the way they should.
3. A small grove of Locust trees come with their own pungie stick traps. Wear heavy soled boots. Trust me on this one.
4. They can cost you a lot of money in a very short time. Those thorns will take out a tire, even a big rear tractor tire, quick. Don't pull the tractor too close to the tree or anywhere limbs may have fallen recently.
Now you might be asking yourself why I would bother to cut such a pain in the ass tree? A fair question that has two answers the first one mentioned above. I have no damned trees on this place!!!! I have to take what I can get.
The second answer is more an opinion but Locust trees are some of the best burning wood for wood furnaces I have ever harvested. They are listed as 10th in overall BTU output of North American trees but that is only part of the story. Locust releases those BTU's in a much greater amount much faster than other wood which as I said in my opinion equals out to a much higher heat efficiency than other hardwoods I get around here and I have burned about every specie in the top 10 list except the Ironwood and Madrone (Whatever a Madrone is).
As a matter of fact the Locust is the only firewood that I have to mix with other wood to burn or run the risk of harming the inside of the furnace. Yes it burns that hot. I typically try and mix it in with Oak and the less cured the Oak the better actually. A fire box filled with Locust will turn the grate and smoke shelf edges orange in just a few hours. It can eat 1 inch thick grate bars completely away to nothing in one season. I have burned Osage Orange and Persimmon which are listed first and third in BTU output and never seen a fire so hot as I get with Locust.
The down side is Locust pops a lot but that is of no real issue in the furnace. It does burn a bit faster as I said but that means it deals with the high wind/low temp problem better which I get with the outside furnace during the Alaskan Clipper attacks. It can also be a pain to split by hand occasionally because the thorns tend to grow into the wood a lot.
Since we have another Alaskan Clipper Attack scheduled to roll in tomorrow night this couple of loads of Locust will be put to good use.
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!!!!