Friday, September 3, 2010

Cutting Wood and Banana Trees

So thats a heck of a title but we have been busy lately. We are at a lull in the garden as we prep for the fall garden and most of what we have going now is just herbs, sorghum, and a bunch of seedling starts in the greenhouse. But winter is coming so I finally had to get off my duff and go cut wood. I like cutting wood, I like the whole go out into the woods thing, I like the sound and feel of a chainsaw, I like the fact that after a hard days work you actually have something to show for your efforts.

My friend Bill lives a few farms away and has an outside boiler like we do so we were looking to find some places to cut wood, turns out a farm about 2 miles away was selling off high grade oak and hickory and the land owner said we could go in an cut whatever we wanted of the tops and slash and logs they decided not to take. It is a plentiful bounty and we could harvest that 160 acres all winter. Bill drove his tractor down so we could skid the logs and load the bucket and I took old blue and the trailer. We have harvested about 5 cords so far between us with about double that to go.

First the tools:

22 Ton Husky hydraulic log spilitter. It works great on the oak and hickory and sure beats a maul.

STIHL MS310 with a 20 inch bar. The absolute minimum needed to cut the prevalent red and white oak around here.

And of course the truck and trailer. I actually have been overloading the trailer weight wise so the next few loads I didnt load it as heavy.

We harvested some big logs on this first run and they were heavy. We have finally had a couple days of rain so it was muddy and 4 wheel drive was needed to get into our cutting area. Even bills tractor got stuck and we spent an interesting half hour or so disconnecting the trailer and yanking him out with a chain attached to the truck.

I tried using the splitter on the horizontal but soon discovered that vertical is the way to go with these heavy logs. I am dripping sweat in the photo as the temp was about 89 with high humidity due to the rain.

The splitter had no trouble splitting the largest, knottiest logs we well spent.

First days cutting and still some to split.

Holly and Rose, two beauties.

Second days cutting, we have about three cords now and will be going for 8 total for the winter.

Lots of work for two days but satisfying.

Banana trees? Yes, we planted three and they are doing very well. They are hardy to 30 below zero but like lots of sun and water during the growing season. They will grow to about 17 feet and will spread in clumps like irises. Once frost hits we cut them back and then cover them with hay and in the spring the pups will pop through the hay and they will grow taller each year (hopefully). Yes you get finger sized bananas that are edible and no they didnt cost much ($19.00 each).

We think they lend a tropical air to the place on each side of the hog panel grape arbor.

Still need to get the pump going in the well house for many projects.

And speaking of projects, we continue chiseling out most of the old mortar and re-tuck pointing with portland cement. In this picture the lower half is completed and already sealed with the tan paint. Our house is an old slip form stone house and if you dont maintain the mortar you get freeze and thaw cycles that will actually pop the rock off the concrete also allows insects in so its an important task that just wasnt done on this house for a couple of decades.

We have actually almost completed this whole side of the house but had to take a break. You need to get the mortar smoothed and into each crack and crevis (you dont want rough edges to collect water) and the only way to really do that is to use your hands. My fingers are so burned I dont have finger prints on several fingers so we took a break to cut wood. Note the size of the elephant ears in the photo.

Well thats it...not much going on here just more wood cutting and mortaring. Next big project...covered front porch and back deck for Judy's trailer and new floors for the farmhouse kitchen and dining area. Retirement is...busy.

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