Dirty hands

Time to close up the garden for the year.  Weeding, banking up the carrots and beets and potatoes that will stay in the ground for now; waiting for a few last vegetables to expire before I rip them out.

My happy discovery of the day was the state of the haypile that’s been sitting there all year, melting slowly into the ground.  I’ve been using the “new” waste hay all summer for mulch, but now I can get rid of the eyesore midfield haypile and there’s enough of it to thickly cover the whole garden.  I expected it to be slimy and rotten and more or less returning to dirt, but it’s completely not.   Parts of it are dry, and then near the bottom the straw is falling into black soil, but none of it is sour or slimy at all.  Totally mulchirific.

Also today I fell the dead danger tree with a distinct lean towards the barn, big check on the backcut side, and a twist at the base.  It needed to come down before a Bella Coola style storm rolls in to us, because then it would come down of it’s own accord on the barn.

It really intimidated me at first, since it’s been years since I fell any trees, indeed, spent all day, day after day, falling trees, back when I knew everything and was missing the wiring for fear and respect. I can still frame a wall my dad would find no flaw with, but can I still fall a tree exactly where I want it to go? I needed to pull it around 90 degrees from where it wants to go, and drop it into the narrow corridor where it will damage nothing.  Can I control it with wedges?  I started thinking about it every time I looked at it, repeatedly planning the cuts and mentally double-checking the plan, going through the worst case scenarios.  In the meantime, we did a few firewood runs, got used to running saw again, and then this tree didn’t look so big.  Thinking about it was starting to drive me nuts and I finally got a daylight chance to cut the damn thing down.

It went where I wanted it to.   Super easy.  But then, I’d already done it so many times in my head.  About ten degrees off exactly where I wanted it to, but no complaints.  It took forever, though!  When it quivered I started wedging it, and it leaned, and leaned, and swallowed the wedges into the backcut, then I stacked the wedges, and the tree leaned, and leaned some more, and I’m looking up at this thing in disbelief that it can hover there with a pie sliver of holding wood and clearly well past the center of gravity.  While I’m smashing wedges into a backcut that’s open three inches.  I kept looking into my cut going, no, that’s more than enough cut, this really should go.  It did.

Running saw is hard!  I don’t understand why, really, it doesn’t seem hard when you’re doing it, but all of a sudden your glasses are sliding off your face because of sweat and your hair is soaked and the saw feels strangely heavier than it did on the last tree.  It’s all hard.  Falling, bucking, swamping, hiking.  I can’t believe I used to work like I did in my twenties!  I used to saw for three or four fills of gas, take a break, file the chain a little, repeat.  I must’ve been so strong, and I didn’t really realize at the time.  Now, a couple hours; I’m done.

It’s pretty sweet getting firewood with Mogi.  We trade off on the saw and forget to trade off the PPE, stuff goes wrong, trees get hung up or go the wrong way and we get covered with oil and sawdust and sap and our hands get black from pitch, and once the truck is full of wood we feel like we’ve worked.  She looks unreasonably beautiful in the sun with her long hair and tanned arms, small and human in the big forest, tramping around with her big  orange saw, and totally in command of it.  A beautiful, perfect saw (Husq 570) that could be called a little bit big for “little girls” like us, but really, it’s just perfect.

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