Friday, December 4, 2009

The Maine Chain Saw Massacre


For the record, let me begin by assuring you that I didn't cut my leg off with the chain saw -- I didn't even come close. Nor did I hack, chew, or mangle anything resembling human tissue. But I thought about it. What I mean is, I was aware of the possibility and did all I could to avoid it. Whew, that started to sound weird, didn't it?

This all came about because there's snow in the forecast tomorrow evening, and it's uncertain how much we'll get. Cutting firewood is easier when you can see where you're going and my forest floor resembles an opened package of straight pretzels strewn across the counter. Add a little snow and walking gets downright tricky. So, on this last reliably sunny day, I headed out with my trusty chain saw intent on menace and mayhem with some standing dead trees.

Luckily, there were several near the boundary of the yard and I didn't have to spend a lot of time tramping around. This is especially nice since my boots weigh in at about two pounds each. Designed for expedition wear, they provide a great deal of lateral stability, which means I'm less likely to twist an ankle doing the Texas Two Step with downed timber. Having done that in the past, I wasn't eager for a repeat performance.

The hardest part of the afternoon involved getting a tree to actually fall. The surrounding forest is so thick that finding an open space between the trees is darned near impossible. The live ones snag their deceased counterparts and, as a result, I have to cut about six feet off the base of the tree, let the trunk break in two, and proceed section by section until I'm dodging the tip as it finally gives way. This is another good reason for not cutting firewood with snow on the ground.

While it wasn't quite the Maine Chain Saw Massacre
, by the end of a couple of hours, I managed to clear two large trees, three or four smaller ones and get them into the barn. Believe it or not, this really is a lot of fun. I get to be outside, the physical activity feels good, and after I've cut the logs into shorter pieces and done my Paul Bunyan routine with the splitting maul, I'll be ready for winter. Sure, I could purchase firewood that's already split and cured, but I feel more independent this way.

Self-sufficiency has its limits, though; I'm going to sleep good tonight.

(Image via Wikipedia)
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