This past spring we had several oak trees cut down that were casting too much shade upon our struggling fruit trees. In fact, one of our peaches and both apple trees didn’t even see sunshine – at all! I always struggle with eco-friendly practices versus self-sufficiency, and this was another one of those battles. Do I cut down some beautiful oak trees that are in the way of a few trees in my orchard, and let the fruit trees suffer for lack of sunlight? Or do I cut down the offending oak trees so that I will someday be able to harvest my own organic apples? Self-sufficiency won this debate. Those oak trees had to go.
We had a local tree guy, Mike, come over to fall the trees. I was nervous because the trees were very big and tall, and were right next to our orchard, garden and beehive. I was afraid one of the trees would fall the wrong way and destroy the very things we were trying to save! Luckily, Mike was a very careful and experienced lumberjack and was able to place every limb and trunk exactly where it needed to be. Not one branch fell the wrong way. Whew!
Once Mike the Lumberjack was done, Ray and I were left with a huge mess and tangle of oak limbs and huge trunks. For the past two months we have slowly been cutting the
wood into about 18 inch lengths – perfect for our cute little wood stove! The wood will keep us warm this winter and will also cook a majority of our food! After we get a large pile of wood cut, we carry it over to the splitter, since most of the logs are too big in diameter to fit into our itty bitty wood stove. The wood splitter was made by my brother-in-law, Danny, who passed on to heaven almost three years ago (and I still miss him). He was an excellent welder and machinist, and could make just about anything. The splitter may not be pretty, but it sure does get the job done – and fast!
After splitting the wood into wood stove sized chunks, we stack the wood on top of a tarp.
The tarp is there so the wood doesn’t “melt” into the dirt, and to deter ants and termites. It won’t keep the critters away completely, but the tarp will make it a bit more uncomfortable for them to inhabit our wood pile.
What we like to do is get up early in the morning when it is still cool and cut for about an hour or so, then we do some splitting and stacking, and try to quit around lunchtime. The past week has been fairly productive because it has been cool, but next week we are supposed to be in the mid 90’s to 100’s here in Northern California, and it’s brutal working in that kind of heat!
The next morning, if we are too tired and sore from cutting, splitting and stacking, we will spend time chipping instead. We bought our chipper eight or nine years ago and it has performed well. Rather than have large piles of brush to burn next winter, which is a fire hazard here in the middle of the forest (especially with our terrible drought here in California), we chip most of the small limbs, brush and leaves that are left over from the trees we cut. The chipped and shredded material makes a wonderful mulch for the garden. We are also throwing a layer over the ground in the orchard area, in preparation for planting clover to help condition the soil. Some of the mulch also goes into the compost pile. It’s the most efficient and safe way we have found to get rid of all that brush from the trees!
So, let’s see… We get warm when we cut the wood, warmer still when we split it, and by the time we are stacking we are almost burned out – yes, pun intended 🙂 . That’s warming three times. But, then we chip. That’s four times. Finally, the wood will warm us is when we burn it in our woodstove!
Well, actually, I guess it warms us again when we eat the food cooked on the wood stove – delicious! And also when we spread the mulch around in the garden beds and over the orchard area. And then again…
well, you get the picture!
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