Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Good Morning, Class of '64
Felled Tree - Uma Krishnamoorthy
If a tree falls in the forest and
nobody is there to hear it, 
doesn't it just lie there and rot?
Chuck Palahniuk

Another Day with Larry

Day 12

Mountain State Forest Festival 
Sawing and Tree

We were not professional loggers, but we cut a lot of trees for firewood, to have sawed into lumber, for pulpwood, and for rails and posts for fences.

We used a cross cut saw in the early years. It is a very effective, very efficient tool, but it can be a man killer. The two men must work together and simply let the saw do its job. Trying to hurry it and force it gets the men out of synch and makes them look like fools. It also wears them out. Watching two good sawyers work together is a thing of beauty; being one of them is even better.

When we bought a chain saw, things changed. With it, one man could pretty much do what two had done before. But the work was much harder and more dangerous. Today’s chain saws have a safety device designed to kill the engine when the saw kicks back which they do, often. The older saws did not. They were also about twice the weight of today’s saws, up to 40 or 50 pounds. The noise from the saw prevents hearing dead limbs falling while cutting a tree. These limbs are appropriately called widow makers. It is also difficult to hear the tree creaking and cracking as it begins to fall.

Those early two-stroke cycle engines were very temperamental and frustrating. We once carried one about a half mile into the woods. It refused to start. We worked on it for about an hour to no avail. So we carried it back to the shop. When we got there, Mason, out of habit, pulled the starter rope - the saw ran perfectly. We had spent a half day, carried that heavy beast a mile, worn ourselves out, and had not created one speck of sawdust!

Abe Lincoln - Unknown
Trees are corrupting our parks.
They should be arrested for loitering.
For deciduous trees, add littering and
indecent exposure to that list of offenses.

Some Inspiration for the Overenthusiastic
George Washington and the Cherry Tree - Unknown
It was only when you left it alone that 
a tree might treat you as a friend. 
After the blade bit in, 
you had yourself a war.
Denis Johnson
Train Dreams 

Another Day with Larry

 Cut a Tree Down Safely

Day 11

The first step in cutting a tree is to decide where you want it to fall. Larger limbs, any leaning of the tree, the wind, and objects on the ground all have to be considered. The best timber cutter will sometimes be fooled. A notch has to be cut with an ax or saw about one-third of the way through the trunk in the direction you want it to fall. Then the back cut is made on the other side of the tree about 3 to 6 inches above the center of the notch. As the tree starts to fall, the notch pulls it in the direction desired and the remaining wood between the notch and the back cut form a hinge permitting the tree to fall slowly and preventing violent kick backs. When everything works as planned, cutting a tree is rather uneventful.

But everything does not always go according to plan. The wind can change in mid-cut. Crooked trees are difficult to judge accurately. Dead trees are simply dangerous. Without the weight of the sap in the limbs and the leaves to pull the tree in the direction desired it can fall in any direction. They also often break violently when they fall instead of slowly bending on the hinge. The kick backs can be dramatic and dangerous. Dead trees have more dead limbs called “widow makers” to fall. Dead trees are often hollow. Cutting a hollow tree is scary. You always cut through more wood on one side than the other causing them to twist to the side as they fall. The only thing predictable about hollow trees is that they will surprise you.

Since most of the trees we cut were diseased, crooked, or dead, we had some exciting times.

Skidding the logs out of the woods with horses is also dangerous. Logs can roll, crushing the driver’s legs. If the leading end hits a rock or a root, the trailing end can whip lash. We always drove the horse from in front of the log, beside the horse’s hips.

Experienced logging teams are a marvel to watch. They understand that the danger is behind them, and they make sure it stays there. They move out, fast. You can’t drive them; at best, you point them. The biggest mistake a driver can make is to try to over control them. They know the danger of a log catching them when going down hill so they go like gangbusters all the way to the bottom of a hill. Things happen awfully fast when logging with horses, and it can be exciting. Constant alertness is necessary.

Mike Rowe on the television show Dirty Jobs did some logging with a team of mules. A cameraman was almost crushed when a log rolled. He also hit a stump or root causing the trailing end of the log to whiplash. It was obvious that the mules knew a lot more than Mike. He would be the first to agree.

Lumberjack - Unknown
 Mike Rowe:
Learning from dirty jobs
Mike Rowe the host of "Dirty Jobs,"
tells some compelling (and horrifying)
real-life job stories. 
Listen for his insights and observations
about the nature of hard work,
and how its been unjustifiably 
degraded in society today.
Fancy cutting down all those beautiful trees...
to make pulp for those bloody newspapers,
and calling it civilization.
Winston Churchill
remarking to his son
during a visit to Canada in 1929
John Vaillant
The Golden Spruce: 
A True Story of Myth, Madness, and Greed
Bringing Home the Logs - Currier and Ives

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