Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Serious Manual Labor Day

This is one of those posts, when I would rather have cooked something and written about it, but alas, I’ve got do a little real work around here on occasion. About 18 months ago, I had a large oak tree die in the woods behind the house – I think it was a victim of the drought we had across the Southeast. While I’ve done a lot of tree felling and cutting up in my day, I decided to hire a couple of young bucks to deal with this one – probably 75 feet tall with a 50 foot spread. They got the tree limbed, cut them all up, and I split and stacked them on the woodpile (they were burned this winter). The main log, however, they just got on the ground and sawed in to lengths about 80% of the way through the log, but due to the size and location couldn’t go much further.

So for a year and a half, I’ve been telling myself I needed to deal with that log – fortunately it was laying atop other debris, which kept it off the ground and from rotting. Late last year my buddy Joe said he was running out of firewood and I offered to share the wood with him for his help getting it out of the woods and splitting – to which he cheerfully agreed. Well, since I’ve been putting this job off during a lot of good lumberjacking weather, you can imagine my reluctance when shortly after the new year, serious winter weather set in and it’s been cold, snowing or raining ever since – until Monday. Joe had sent and email asking if I wanted to get it then, and since it had been pretty dry and the forecast was rain for the next several days, I reluctantly agreed.

Four hours later, us two 60+ year olds were about white-eyed (local expression for whipped). Joe said if he’d realized how big it was, he might not have been so enthusiastic about tackling it. While we still had to do a fair amount of sawing and manhandling, I’m blessed with a farmer neighbor who let’s me use his tractors – so it did the heavy work of pulling, hauling, etc. I could actually run it up on the hill and position the front bucket and Joe could finish cutting it through and roll the piece down hill a foot or so into the bucket. Then I hauled it around to the splitting area. I forgot to get a shot before we started, but it was up on the hill just left of the limb with the cut end. You can see it was in the area between the sawdust piles and the hill is as steep as it looks and a little slippery.

Now that we have the easy part done, all we have to do it split it, load it, haul it, and stack it – this sure makes the $60 a truck load deals from Craigslist sound a lot better – but I need the exercise, especially after being piled up indoors for the last 3 months. I used to split everything with a wedge and maul, but this is a job for a log splitter – which the neighbor also has. Here it is ready for splitting, after a few more cuts, and the green chair is sitting right against the one log, so you can see they are pretty big. I’m thinking splitting will be a multi day job as each two pieces will be a pickup load – so we have 7-8 loads here.

Life at the Almost Heaven South Country Manor isn’t all play and cooking – I’m just thankful I can still do this, even though I can hardly move today and I think even my earlobes ache. I believe I’m good on firewood for a couple of years now and I’ll sure appreciate the heat produced by each piece as I toss it on the fire.

Have a great day.



  1. once you sit still, 40 or 60 or 80, you lose a lot quickly... Good for you that you still can and do this work

  2. Thanks for the clarification, I've never heard the term "white-eyed". That looks like a big job, bet you're glad you finally got it done. Now go cook up something goooo-od to celebrate! :-)

  3. I've felled many a tree, hauled a lot of firewood out of the forest, and split my share of logs in my life. But I have NEVER handled logs that big!

    I know you are one whipped puppy tonight. Take two advil, one aleve, and a BC before trying to get out of bed tomorrow, ha ha.

    PS: Know where I can find some oak for smoking? lol.

  4. I'm paying attention - we have several huge pines that we're thinning this year along with a ton of littler ones. I am NOT looking forward to this chore, but plan to help. Luckily, we also have a neighbor with a tractor. :)

  5. Thanks for stopping by my blog!!

  6. dang bigdude ~ that kinda labor would give pause to a man half your (our) age ... you're a stud if you can still do that kinda work. my days of doing stuff like that are long gone by.


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