|The morning sky as work begins.|
I’m pretty good with an axe. It comes from very long years of chopping wood when I was a kid and then moving out into the woods where trees die of natural causes, fall down, and go boom. I do own a chainsaw and I can use it with reasonable proficiency but I intend to have some down time, some time alone, and this means no chainsaw. I have never cut myself with an axe, at least not badly, and honestly, I’ve never cut myself with a chainsaw. But I have seen what accidents with chainsaws look like, and trust me, you do not want to be the better part of an hour away from an Emergency Room with a cut from a chainsaw. I certainly don’t. Oh, and by the way, I just want to cut this tree up with an axe.
I saw this coming, no pun intended, because the tree, even though it was really very green and bushy, had a black spot on it that meant there was some rot inside. All the rains we’ve had this year have meant fuller limbs, more leaves, more new growth, and some trees just cannot handle it. They break. They die. And this one broke in half with the top half crashing down in the fence and blocking the trail. But the thick part of the tree was still connected to the trunk so it left sort of a wooden Sword Of Damocles hanging over the dogs as they trod the trail.
|Tanya the Destroyer passes fearlessly under the Broken Tree!|
This sort of thing is plenty weird. It may fall in five minutes or it may be there a year from now. I couldn’t tell what was keeping it connected but I couldn’t push it over either. It was time to break out the axe, the bush hook, two six inch pieces of PVC pipe and a couple of round fence posts.
Hey! I got this, relax!
The bushy stuff has to go first. I have to get down to the bare bones of the main limb by trimming away the branches. The bush hook is good for everything less than firewood size and it goes quickly. I have to cross the fence onto my neighbor’s property so I clear away some of the fenceline for him. I know how to keep a bush hook sharp so it goes quickly even in the heat. I haul all the bushy and springy stuff to the firepit and the pile grows. About half an hour later I’m down to one large branch that’s about ten feet long and the axe makes its first appearance. I know how to sharpen an axe, too, and the branch is separated from the main trunk very quickly. I end over end it to the firepit and then the real work has to begin.
|Tanya inspects the firepit before the new arrivals|
The photo above is the before shot of the firepit and the one below is the firepit after the first day of Axing.
|Lilith and Tanya inspect the work|
|The first cut|
I think one cut on the firewood sized main trunk will cause the rest of the tree to come down. I might, or might not, be right. I’ve learned to have patience with this sort of thing. I start the cut plenty wide and large chunks of woods vacate when the axe head hits. I’m impressed with my progress. I’m also impressed that the middle part of the tree is rotten and hollow. That makes my job so much easier. I hack away but much to my surprise, the piece I’m cutting doesn’t affect the arch. It breaks away, the end of the tree falls forward, but the end is still connected to the trunk. I have to make yet another cut to get the arch to fall!
By that time, I’m getting spent. It’s ninety degrees out and the humidity is brutal. I’m panting. I’m sweating from every pore. And I am happy. This is the best work out ever! But the arch has to fall. This is a Quest. I must die if the arch does not fall!
|The second cut on the main trunk|
I'm sweating gallons and I'm exhausted. Worse and worse, the branch shifts, turns, but doesn't break or fall. Finally, the cut is complete. After some huffing and puff the arch falls and the dogs are all safe!
|In the background, Tanya flees the fallen arch!|
Tuesday morning see one cut and a lot of hauling.
I have to cut this piece in half to get it to move, but no worries. After that, everything gets put on the rollers and is rolled nearly without effort to the firepit.
All the big stuff has been moved, all the little stuff has been moved, and all in all, everything that needs to be out into the firepit is there. All I needs was an axe, a bushhook, two pieces of PVC and two fence posts!
And a lot of sweat.