Saturday, October 01, 2005

Trees and Rabbits

In my last post I mentioned that my father-in-law and I were taking down some trees. Grampy (as we call him) has taken down many, many trees at the house he and Nanny are having built in western Massachusetts. We have a few dead pines in our old goat pen (now the dog pen). One in particular was right next to our feed/garden shed at the edge of the pen and close to the rabbit cages. This pine was one of those 'double' trees (for want of a better or correct name). It has one large trunk, but splits into trunks about 4 feet off the ground. One of those trunks splits again into two trunks some 5 feet further up. The tree was only about 30-40 feet tall. Grampy had brought his chain saw and went to work. He decided to take each of the two main trunks down separately. It was harder work than we expected, partially because the tree had not been dead a long time. So while it was hard work, Grampy laid that first trunk down right where he wanted. The second trunk proved more difficult....

Grampy decided he would place the second trunk right on top of the first. For whatever reason-maybe the notch wasn't deep enough; maybe the cut on the backside wasn't high enough-the tree started coming down 180 degrees opposite of the intended fall. It pinched Grampy's saw and leaned, but didn't fall. The pinched saw was holding it up.

Up to this point, I had just been an observer, fetching gas when needed, or ice water, or yelling timber. Grampy wanted to save his saw (it was the best of the four he owns - unfortunately it was also the only one he brought). Of course he also didn't want to leave with the tree still standing. They had planned to leave that night for home. Now, it being mid-afternoon, these plans started to fade.

We tried numerous things, but lacked proper equipment. Our chains weren't long enough and our ropes not sturdy enough. Finally we decided to take a section of fence down and start in with the axe and a hammer and chisel. We worked for a couple hours at it with seemingly no progress. Finally we decided to replace the fence section (so the dogs could return to the pen) and retire to our cookout for the night.

Friday morning I sharpened my axe on the belt sander, and we went to work. (Now we were aiming to let the tree fall the direction it wanted to go.) We alternated with the axe and chisel for an hour or so til it finally came down. The sharpened axe had made a world of difference. Now it got interesting....

In the previous day's effort we had sunk an old telephone pole which was laying around our property into the ground near the rabbit cages. We had hooked rope and chain around the tree and to Grampy's truck; the pole acted as leverage point or 90 degree angle point for rope and chain before being hooked to Grampy's truck. This effort failed, but we left the pole in the ground. When tree came down, one of the limbs hit the top of the pole and snapped. Small sections hit the rabbit (doe) cage. The latch released and a doe got out. She hopped under the feed house after a narrow escape from one of our dogs. So instead of a triumphant tree-felling and high fives, now we were on our bellies trying to lure a rabbit out. After about 30-40 minutes the doe emerged and scampered right by Mrs. Curley who was holding a fishnet on a pole. I grabbed the net from her and we raceded around the property in hot pursuit. Finally, I lunged and got the net around the doe. (The doe squeaked and squealed - I never knew rabbits made any sound.)

While Grampy took a nap for his long drive home, I spent much of the rest of the day cutting the trunks with the (saved) chain saw. It is funny that the best part of the Nanny and Grampy's visit, for me, was probably that last day when they weren't even supposed to be here. I had never really worked with Grampy on any project like this. And while nothing we tried seemed to work out (due to lack of equipment - not lack of skill or imagination), in the end the job got done. It was fun-but my axe swinging body is suffering this morning.

From Bethany, the small holding in Bethune...

Oremus pro invicem!

P.S. Don't forget our special on these books.

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