This past weekend the weather was fabulous - and so, a good weekend to devote to cutting downed trees, splitting wood, and stacking, in an effort to save money on heat bills and utilize some of our resources in the woods.
We were able to borrow a log splitter, which saved on Mr. Wonderful's neck, shoulders and back TREE-mendously, let me tell you! I've never seen one of these machines in operation, and it amazed me how much time and labor it saved once I watched it do the work! The hydraulics raise and lower the axe blade and strong pressure splits the wood to whatever size you decide on; you only have to re-insert it, move a lever, and it splits away!
Above are portions of trees we started with on Saturday. These trees, as much as I loved them, had to be removed from our deck - they were rubbing the planks whenever the wind blew, and there were no more areas to remove decking to allow for their continued growth. They had begun to die - they were over 40 ft tall, and about 4 feet from our living room! This would not be pretty if a storm took them out. It truly pained me to have them removed, but like the dead wood in our little forest, they would serve a purpose in keeping us warm in the upcoming "freezin season"!
Here he is, ladies - Mr. Wonderful hard at work! This is the last of those large trunks that have been laying on the hill outside our patio. This man's self-motivation and drive can be frustrating to me sometimes, when I know he is sore and hurting. He just keeps on ticking, despite my pleas that he take frequent breaks. It is also one of the reasons I love him so much - he knows how to GET R DONE!
While he was cutting and splitting the wood, I was stacking it and also using the leaf blower to clean the front yard of leaves YET AGAIN this season ...I got 2 more huge piles cleared and burned. I had stacked 3 stacks of wood 4.5 ft high in one area outside our patio door, and the pile you see in the picture above is actually now TWO stacks (we got it finished before dark Sunday evening). I took frequent breaks, let me tell you! I'm not as young as I used to be, but I still enjoy doing work side by side with Mr. Wonderful!
This spring, and in previous years, we have been approached by a few different logging companies. Our trees here are so tall and straight; the loggers would love to come in and clear-cut, paying us one price for everything. They also have an option of what they call "land management" - they would do us a "favor" by coming in and cutting select trees, take the large trunks, and leave the brush for us to clean up and use for firewood, paying us for the trees they would take. This would be a renewable contract, for as many years as we would care to renew. Because of the economy and the construction industry taking a 'dive', the prices they would pay would not be much at all. Our trees are oak and cherry - worth a bundle when construction is booming! Very few 'knots' can be found when we cut and split the wood ourselves, so we know they are a big 'cash crop'!
But those trees to us are a precious natural resource - OUR resource, certainly, for home heating, but also resources to the wildlife that make THEIR home in these woods. Beyond our garden tractor in the above picture, you can see these wonderful trees - they provide food and shelter for not only birds, bugs, and tree frogs - and then - when we finish cutting the downed trees from storms or insect damage, we layer twigs and smaller branches to form a refuge for fox, squirrels, bunnies, chipmunks, and even the most basic of creatures, the earth worms that burrow in decaying wood and vegetation below those brush piles. We take what the storms bring down, or what dying trees the woodpeckers won't be needing for their nests and their food sources. And the CHICKENS - they get benefit of the WORMS! Beak-smackin' Deli-iscious!