Tag Archives: logging

Changing the Land

I can hear the buzzing of the chainsaw as we speak. Then it stops when the tree begins to crack, crashing down my hillside the end of a life.

I was brought up to love and respect trees. I couldn’t imagine ever willing logging a forest.  A forest! full of life and trees that breath oxygen: life to us humans. Loggers in my mind were villains.

Yet here I am. Watching trees, tall firs and cedars, dropping. Not only watching, but I hired the guy to come and do this (okay,actually, the landlord did it when I asked her to). I feel like a terrible hippy, guilt consumes me with every crash I hear.DSCN0692

I wince, and want to cry as I see a mighty cedar tumble.

However, I am also the steward of my land and my animals. That means culling the old, sick and unproductive. These are trees that are ending their period of fast growth. There are a few stands of dead trees. Some are even starting to develop conchs: fungus that eat the weak trees. The cedar are at the age that they begin to rot through the center. Below these trees is an understory of young trees waiting for their elders to fall. Many of the cedar are shoots from the old trees. Where there is life slowing down and dying, there is life waiting to explode. If these are left waiting too long they too will die.

DSCN0693

Not only that, but some of these firs are so tall they are blocking sun to the pasture. By removing some of these I am hoping to improve pasture in the cooler seasons when the sun is low and skirts behind these trees. I can also increase the pasture by possibly a whole acre…though half an acre is more likely. I have concerns about some of the undergrowth allowing predators a place to hide, so away it goes!

For the sake of the pigs I am hoping clearing the forest some will also allow me to fence the woods in and plant trees they can forage around. The logger accidentally took out all my wild filberts thinking I wanted more pasture there, whoops! didn’t realize I was planning on using that for the pigs. Oh well. I can plant new ones that should bear in, oh, sever years.

On a longer time frame is what I need to think. This land was purchased for the sake of creating a permaculture paradise. My ex was into permaculture, I simply tried to provide a place for him to live out his dreams. For me a more conventional farm where I could run a sheep dairy with enough pasture to run an actual business would have been good. But, hey. I’ve got what I’ve got and I’ve got to commit to what the land is and needs.

So here I am. Watching the land get cleared. I was hoping that this would allow me to do some terracing, too. We will see what the land wants and needs when the job is done. There are a few things I am still planning on:

+Digging a holding pond in the middle pasture with a bioswale to the stream. Hopefully this will hold water for a large part of the summer season and give the winter rains a place to flow without loosing nutrients, topsoil and prevent fecal contamination in the stream.

+Digging a swale that leads from the barn to a grassy catchment near the stream that will become an orchard.

+Creating fruiting hedgerows between paddocks.

The rest I am waiting for the land to tell me what to do. In the meantime, I watch the elderly fall giving room to the young

The Fence Stopped Working

One important thing to do as a farmer with livestock is test your fence frequently. I test before I go to work. I set the sheep up in a paddock and turned it on….and it wasn’t working. So I started working my way to the charger to find the short. Not grass….my connections looked okay. The ground rod was still hooked up. Hummmm….So I started to walk the line and this is what I found:

Image

Oh. Well. I suppose that would do it. Oh dear, I have a tree on my fence and I’ve got to get to work! Luckily I’ve got a boss who raises horses and he understands. I’m apperently the first person to call him up and ask, “soooo…how do I safely buck a long on a high tension fence?”

Image

Whats kind of amazing about high tension is if its done right it doesn’t break even if a tree falls on it. Or a car slams into it. there should be spring in the wires and enough give that it can resist high impacts. But….if there is spring in the wires there is a chance bucking this log it can bounce back at me. I’ve got to cut this tree just right. First thing to do is clear limbs.

Image

Its SO important to get limbs off and away any log you cut. A small branch can catch your chain and rip the saw out of your hands or cause kickback. I had one very tiny baby branch catch my chain for just a second…it tried to pull the chainsaw out of my hands entirely. Scary. after I cut the branches off I moved them out of the way so i couldn’t trip on them while operating a death machine.

Next is to make a cut that will take away some of the binding forces in the tree. There are different points of tension in a downed tree. There may be points where a trees tension makes it want to sag, other parts it wants to pinch upwards, sometimes it has tension that makes the log want to swing out…bucking a log and seeing all the potential kinetic energy is a skill.

My log was not making contact with the ground. it was being suspended by the fence, so if I cut straight from the top the log would have pinched into my blade and I’d up a creek.  The other thing is there is potential spring back from the fence, so i need to release the energy slowly. I worked a few feet away from the fence for several reasons all safety related (reducing spring back, keeping chain saw away from wires, ect)

I started by making a cut on the bottom of the log almost half through. That is what I am going to aim my top cuts towards, but i can now get through the log without having to fight the pinching all the way. Next I start cutting wedges out. Again, I’m trying to prevent my chain saw from getting pinched.

Image

Almost through I decided to try and go the rest of the way with an axe……..but all i had was a splitting maul. Didn’t work so well so i went back and slooooowly chipped away at the wedge until there was some give and I could tell i had gotten the top of the tree cut off. Then, aw heck, why not?  went and chopped a bunch of firewood.

Image

It was a lovely morning workout. Now the tough part is going to be bucking the rest of the log with all those branches I can’t easily clear out. Oh yes. My fence is working again.

Image

A girl and her chainsaw.