web analytics

I Need a Blue Ox

October 17th, 2017

Tree Removal Continues

Today we had another day of fall-like weather. It was in the mid-70’s, with little sun. I was pretty happy about that, because I have about 5 years’ worth of tree removal work ahead of me, and doing it in 90-degree heat is not much fun.

I have two big oaks that fell as one. They are pointing in the same direction, and one is (was) on top of the other. Cutting them up is an intimidating job. The trunk of the upper oak was above shoulder height, so that ruled out a typical chainsaw cut. You don’t use a chainsaw for cuts that high, because if it swings down, it will have a lot of momentum, and it can hit your legs. Worse, you could Jennerize yourself.

Another problem: cutting the upper trunk near the base would cause it to fall on the lower trunk, and from there, who knows where it would bounce?

I solved the problem using my fun new technique: the bore cut. You shove the chainsaw through the middle of the tree, leaving “straps” above and below the tunnel. I didn’t have to lift the saw that high to do this.

When you cut a tree, you end up with one side in tension and one side in compression. For example, imagine a horizontal log. The weight pulls on the top fibers and tries to push the bottom ones together. If you cut too far on the compression side, the tree will close on your saw, and then you get to have fun trying to extract it. This has happened to me several times in spite of my efforts to avoid it. Sometimes trees surprise you.

I kept cutting the upper tree until the trunk was suspended in space. That put tension on the top and compression on the bottom, down by the base. I cut up into the tree from the bottom, making a kerf maybe five inches deep. Then I pounded two plastic wedges into it. Wedges hold kerfs open while you work. You don’t want metal wedges for this purpose. You use plastic, because every so often, you’re going to hit a wedge with your saw.

I made a bore cut through the tree, above the kerf with the wedges, separated from the kerf by material intended to form a hinge. I left a little strap up at the top to hold the tree up while I switched saws. I got my pole saw, stood at a relatively safe distance, and cut into the strap. The trunk fell straight down, and I was in business.

This method, with variations, works on all sorts of stressed trees.

I’ve been studying the crap out of tree-cutting methods on Youtube, because I don’t want to be crushed or mutilated any more than is necessary. If you’re using a chainsaw, and you haven’t studied, well, people like you make a lot of money for hospitals.

I’m not the perfect example of chainsaw safety. I don’t have chaps, and I don’t wear a face shield. But I’m considerably better off than a guy who thinks testosterone is a good substitute for brains.

The timberjack I bought is a huge help. I can take a log that weighs hundreds of pounds and flip it over with one end suspended in the air, without exerting myself at all. Green live oak is extremely heavy. It’s so heavy, one piece I cut came close to straining the tractor’s front end loader. With the timberjack, I can cut everything in small pieces I can move.

I have to get these two oaks moved, because they have been blocking the dirt road to my east gate. I need to use that gate to move logs to the swale by the highway, where the county will pick them up for nothing. Today I got to the point where both oaks were cut in pieces. My big saw ran out of gas while I was finishing up the lower log, so I left my wedges in the log and called it a day.

Thanks to the weather, I can wear long pants while I work. My legs aren’t getting cut any more. I’m not bleeding at all. That’s a nice change.

I got myself two probationary pairs of Carhartt jeans, because the local stores had a crappy selection of overalls (my first choice). The jeans are great. I have Carhartt work pants, but they’re too nice for cutting trees, and they have to be ironed. Jeans are more practical. I have a pair of overalls on the way via Amazon, and if they work out, I’ll get more.

Overalls should be ideal for this kind of work. Coveralls would be better if the weather were cooler. Bark scrapes bare arms up pretty good. But overalls will do. I need something that permits freedom of movement and has lots of pockets. Naturally, I ordered Carhartt. Their other products are so good, the overalls must be good, too.

I have owned many pairs of Levi’s in my life, but now I look down on them. They have a number of problems. First, the cotton is cheap and weak. It’s not made to last. It’s made to wear out early so little girls will have cute rips that expose their knees. Second, Levi’s don’t sit at the waist. They sit below the waist. Your waist is about at the level of your belly button. Every time you bend, Levi’s cut into you because of the unfortunate location of the belt line. Final thing, Levi’s don’t have a lot of pockets.

Carhartt stuff is not made to look good on little girls. It’s made to last. If it doesn’t last, the company goes bust. The quality is much better than Levi’s, and the price is lower. That’s how I see it.

I decided to order a second pair of boots. I can’t stop myself. My Danner Vicious boots are wonderful, but when I’m wearing long pants, I don’t need 8″ boots. I can get by with shorter ones, which are lighter. I decided to try a pair of Keens. Some Keen boots are made in China, and it looks like they aren’t the ones you should get. I ordered some American jobs. We’ll see how they work out.

I never buy Timberlands. I’ve had two pairs of Timberland boots, and they were both disappointing. They’re fine for rappers, I guess. If all you do is rap and stand in police lineups, you don’t need comfortable boots that last.

The Danners and the Keens are waterproof and have crushproof toes. If I roll a 400-pound log onto my foot, I want something other than leather between me and the wood.

I can’t wait to start dumping logs by the road. Burning them is helpful, but it will take me the rest of my life to burn all the wood I’m discarding.

I think the farm is in good enough shape to resume cattle raising. I have to come up with some kind of agricultural operation unless I want to pay serious property tax, and this place is already set up for cattle. I don’t have a lot of interest in raising cattle, but you go with what works. I am told I can get a tax reduction with two tiny dwarf Brahmas. That should be easy.

Question: do people eat dwarf cattle? I could actually see the appeal in little rib eyes. A rib eye is no good at all unless it’s at least 1-1/2″ thick, but a steak like that weighs 2 pounds, which is a lot. Maybe a dwarf rib eye would be more practical.

I believe that customarily, people here put useless animals on their land and do nothing worthwhile with them. It would be perfectly okay to buy two tiny steers and let them live here until they die of old age. But it seems weird.

Amanda keeps telling me goats are the livestock from hell, but it would be very nice to have a couple to eat weeds.

I’ll try to put up some photos. I’m pretty pooped. Even though it was cool today, I drank about 72 ounces of beverages when I was done working (within a period of a few minutes), and I have yet to see the customary evidence of overcoming dehydration.

I hate Miami more than I can say, and I pity everyone who lives there, although I would rather see most of them live there than here. This place is wonderful.

I will work on the photos now. If you see a tiny orange dot on top of the lower trunk in the first photo, that’s my big 60-cc saw. Tells you how big the tree is.

One Response to “I Need a Blue Ox”

  1. Rick C Says:

    Would you consider Fort Lauderdale to be Miami, culturally speaking? I lived there for a year and a half, in 2000-2001, and I liked it, and I wouldn’t mind living there again someday, but not if it’s gone downhill.

    Even back then, running red lights was the local sport: every time you’d see one, half a dozen cars would blast through it.