Sally, me and two neighbours did a few hours of wood-getting today. It’s been a year. Old muscles. I can feel it as I write this. Still, a lot got accomplished and we are all feeling good. Well, my back isn’t that good (but I will be fine by tomorrow). And Sal is still bouncing back from a total knee replacement done only 12 weeks ago. All’s well that ends well and ending well for us does not mean doing a good job – it just means no blood-letting. Today was a blood-free workday.
When we start, we have to first wait until the tide goes out. Hard to cut floating logs into rounds, ya know? And the tides seem to be a bit ‘off’ the printed schedule these days. Not by much but at least half an hour. Our work window (given where the logs were) was three hours with the water at our ankles after that.
Then, when the tide is out, and we can actually access the logs, they are all higgeldy-piggeldy on the rocky shoreline. I climb down the cliff, go out on the boulder field, roll a log up on a rock or use a peavey to get it up so that my chainsaw does not cut into the mud or a rock. Sometimes you have no choice…the log is jammed and you have to cut it as it lies and risk your chain….but basically, you cut what you can hoping the smaller portion can then be un-jammed.
The biggest challenge for me is in keeping my balance. And mine is NOT so good anymore. I am a bit tippy. I kinda lurch sometimes. But, so far, no falls. The second challenge is that the rounds cut on the beach have to then be hauled up above the high tide line otherwise they will all float away in the night. Each round weighs at least 25 pounds and some weigh upwards of 75. I carry them off the beach and toss ’em in a pile at the base. Sal and the other woman pick one up each and take it up the next ten or so feet to a ‘dry’ spot. The young fellow we had as our fourth was better at just about everything but together we made a good impression on the task.
Sal had a relatively even slope to climb but she had to lift and carry rounds averaging 40-50 pounds (over 50 and I came over to do it). Ninety minutes in, she was looking like she was getting close to done. “Hey, Sal, why not give your knee a rest and go get that floater I saw earlier?” And so she went log salvaging for awhile. Came back with two!
As the water began to encroach on our work, we all decided that nature was telling us to quit. And so we did. Huge sighs of relief all around. Over the course of the next month or so, we will do that exercise maybe five more times. Then there is the splitting. The carrying. And then the stacking.
Just a chore. Just a few hours. Just ordinary. But it is real, it is productive and the setting is gorgeous. This is definitely the way to live!
Looking forward to when we can do some of our normal chores. At least we have wood left for next year because we didn’t burn any this winter. Always have to look for the silver linings. – Margy
I know! By the time March rolls around, you can see how much you might have left-over as a start to the next year. If we travel, we burnt very little and can start on year two. Right now, we are good for one more solid, cold, no vacation winter. But that simply is NOT enough. One has to have the next year ‘drying’ and getting some of the salt rinsed off. So Sal and I will be putting year 2 in this summer.
I tackled the chore last week, on deadfalls emerging from the snow bank. I used to enjoy the exercise, but its becoming a bit of a chore now! At least I don’t have to contend with tides, but one only has to think about cheery fires to incentivise the work ethic. Today is the first without a fire to ward off the chill.
My guess is that we have had intermittent chills late into this year to the extent that we have had maybe 20 fires in the last 40 days. Nothing for the last three. Mind you, I tend to just ‘bundle up a bit’ before burning wood around this time so we are not likely to burn again until October 1. Funny how ‘bringing in the wood’ is the archetypal activity out here, eh? Our chore is easier and harder than most, tho. We salvage logs (easier than falling and limbing and dragging) but we have to get ‘floaters’ by small boat and haul them up a logger’s highline to the house. They are, when wrangled, all salted up. And saltwater wood eats stoves. The only thing for that, is watch your stove slowly get eaten but the pace of that can be slowed by giving it two years to dry. Our stove is 15 years old and we have had to rebuild it twice.
Have you ever given a thought to how many times that salty piece of flotsam is handled between chuck and ash (I’m sure you have!)?
Once to snag, two to cut rounds, then up the funicular, then to split, to the woodshed, to the firebox and finally to the ashcan. Lotta work those OGers don’t comprehend, but its all worth it on a frosty winter night, with a glass of wine/scotch and your feet up!