Helping Hands

131102 Wood (1)It must look as though all we do is cut, split and stack wood by the numerous posts about it here.  This time of year that does seem to be the case.  I have to tell you though that this is one chore that I kind of like doing.  It is the one thing we do as a little community for the most part.  This weekend we went to sister Sue’s to move some of a huge locust tree that came down at the end of the summer.  The tree guys cut it up in place and hauled away the sticks and branches (the worst part of the job).  They cut the wood to length but it needed to be moved and split.  The morning began with the tractor ride to her house, Bill followed with the splitter.  A friend arrived shortly after we did and then Sue’s daughter and her husband.

The tree was at the back side of her house so Bill, Rob and Chuck all loaded the bucket of the tractor and the bed of a pick up with multiple loads and brought it to the door of the barn where we had set up the splitter.  Sue has a door in the floor of the barn and we split and tossed it through the door into the lower level.  This is really an excellent set up.  It keeps the wood out of the weather and is attached to the house so in those howling snow storms she just has to walk down the stairs to get her wood.  Not ideal going up and down the stairs but much better than keeping it under a tarp in a field somewhere.

Sue and I split the smaller pieces but a lot of it was huge.  The splitter can be used horizontally or vertically.  The vertical position allows you the ability to split any size diameter wood (you just have to be able to move it around).  One large chunk was split into 30 plus pieces – Sue counted. Moving and splitting went on for four hours or so – 3 tanks of gas is how we measure.  The wall of wood was a little intimidating initially, they were bringing it up faster than we were ever going to split it. Bill figures they will get 5 cord or more from that one tree.

This kind of work is fun, especially when you have a group of people working towards that common goal.  It’s nice to work with people that have experience, a lot can be done without a lot of instruction.  Time can be spent working and laughing.  And if you’re with my sister you can bet you will be taking stock of what kinds of mosses are growing on any given piece of wood – I did see her set a piece or two aside for closer inspection later.

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Farmher

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In reading a blog I read daily called Sheepy Hollow Farm I was taken to a site called Farmher.  This is a website documenting women farmers in the U.S. and the photographs are stunning.  It got me to thinking about last weekend.

My sister had a pile of wood in her driveway that needed to be split so last Sunday Bill filled the splitter with gas, hooked it up to the tractor and sent me on my way.  I have to admit I love driving the tractor – especially to other people’s houses.  I love the open feeling as you are driving down the road, the way the tractor sounds.

On the way I passed the home of a classmate of mine (there were only 4 of us total until high school).  He was mowing his lawn and I could see on his face that look of bewilderment – “What is she doing towing a splitter down the road with a tractor?”

When I got to Sue’s we unhooked the splitter leaving it near the pile of wood.  We then proceeded across the field to pick up three large pieces of an apple tree trunk.  They filled the bucket.  After dumping them in the pile of wood we started splitting, each taking a turn at running the splitter or bringing the wood over to be split – both throwing the wood into the pile needing to be stacked.  We were about halfway through the pile when my classmate, his wife and daughter walked by with their dog.  We gave a wave but continued on our quest to finish before we ran out of gas (both us and the splitter).  I said they must be wondering about those crazy sisters doing that kind of work.

That’s what I was thinking as I perused the photography of Farmher.  I saw a woman tilling her garden, out with a chainsaw.  I saw them milking goats, feeding chickens, tending gardens and thought this has been me for a good part of my life in one way or another.  In centuries past the woman did a very large part of the farming along with her husband.  They were a team.  The men did the heavy work, the women made sure they were fed and warm.  They all worked hard.  I come from a line of small farmers, it seems to me that this is the way life really should be.  Bringing forth your sustenance from the land that is yours, tending your field and flock.  Knowing that the work you put in keeps your family happy and whole.

Family Affair

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The wood still needs to be cut and split and we had some help on Sunday.  Daughter Amanda, her boyfriend Yusuf and sister Sue all were all there.  I can’t tell you how much you can get done with helping hands.  The saying “many hands make light work” really rang true.

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Each person had their own job, depending upon their skill level with pieces of equipment.  Well, everyone can use the splitter but not everyone can wield a chainsaw (that’s the piece of equipment I stay away from).

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Chester just likes to be in the thick of things.  He’s not afraid of the noise of the equipment or tractor (although he stays away from the chainsaw as well).  The splitter is a real godsend to people our age or anyone for that matter.  The pieces of wood that were dispatched were large, some 25 to 30 inches across.  If they weren’t full of knots they were spit with ease.

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The wood we split Sunday was ash and cherry.  I love splitting ash, it’s beautiful and splits easily.  Cherry on the other hand . . .

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By the time we were done we had a wall of wood over 25 feet long and 5 feet high.  All in all a great days work.

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Of course this was happening all day with anyone that was near him.   Chester had a good day too.

 

Changing of Seasons

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There comes a time every summer when you feel it, you know fall is just around the corner.  The leaves on the ash trees are beginning to turn, the maples are taking on that olive tone.  We are fortunate to be experiencing beautiful weather right now – cool and clear.  With the realization that the seasons are beginning to change also comes a little panic feeling about what needs to be done before winter gets here.  On the top of the list is cutting and splitting wood.

The weather was just amazing and we have been taking Mondays off in lieu of a week’s vacation, the idea being that we would take the boat to the lake for a little R&R.  Winter is calling though and our shed has a limited supply of wood stored.  The house would be quite frigid in January if we couldn’t at least put a fire in the big fireplace in the living room.  Instead of boating yesterday Bill and I cut and split about a cord of cherry and ash that was sitting in the back forty.  It’s work, but it’s satisfying seeing cord wood in a nice stacked row drying out.  Having a splitter makes it possible for us to do the work, if we had to use a splitting maul and ax I’m afraid we would have to hire a much younger man to do the job.

It took us only 3 to 4 hours to cut and split what we did.  When we came up to make dinner I was concerned with just how achy I was and thought about getting out of bed this morning.  You know that feeling when muscles are screaming as you put your feet to the floor?  Or going down the stairs heading for that first cup of coffee?  I was pleasantly surprised this morning.  I felt good, like I’d done an honest day’s work.  I told Bill I could do that everyday (it’s nice working hard and having something to show for it).  Now we will see if it hits me tomorrow, sometimes it takes a day.