Three men wielded three chainsaws, numerous splitting wedges, and a maul this morning. In the space of three hours, we felled enough trees along the field-stone wall in front of my house to render two cords of hardwood- the good stuff: oak, maple, cherry and ash.
General Lee is back in the USA from Costa Rica, visiting with me for a couple of weeks. He’s no stranger to real physical work. He lumped enough stove length sections that he stacked between two trees to leave me a wonderful man-made artistic sculpture wall that can be seen in the back left of the picture. I’ll view that stack from the window above our kitchen table through the summer and early fall, when I’ll disassemble it into my wheelbarrow and push it up the hill to split and stack into the woodshed. From there it will dry for a full calendar year before it gets used to heat our oak-timbered post and beam saltbox.
From Camping in the Old Style, by David Wescott: “If you want to learn to fell a tree, find a mentor. There are few books that can teach it well, if at all.”
Gary Robinson is even older than me, and also grew up on a the family farm in nearby Warren. His years of hard farm work have included felling over a thousand tress in his lifetime. Gary is considered a true master of the firewood harvest rituals. He’s got enough split and stacked hardwood over at his place to heat my house for at least five years.
I’ve got some history with these woods. In 1977 I bought the five acres, and went into the oak grove below and felled some two dozen large, towering oaks that were hauled up roadside and taken to the Pearse’s sawmill over in Searsmont. The timbers that came from that order were chiseled, framed, drilled, and pegged together by me, Jay Leach, and my friend Lock Kiermaier. It’s as snug a home as one could ever hope for, warming our hearts and bodies for close to to forty years now.
This house heats on two cords a winter. We easily got that today, in a few intense but satisfying hours of collective work. The black flies were starting to could up and bite. There was mud in places underfoot. I myself took a couple stumbles along the stone wall.
We spent a long time struggling with our last tree. Two chainsaws got wedged tight into the base of the ash, which decided to fall in the wrong direction, but we eventually figured out a way to release the tree without damaging ourselves or our tools.
General Lee and I are looking forward to completing the job this week. The local fire ban has ended, so I’ll pick up a fire permit and we’ll enjoy a big brush pile file one of these nights coming up.
The black flies might even leave us alone.