…we’ve been busy. We have been getting in the wood.
As readers know, we first catch wayward logs floating by in the sea and corral ’em in the lagoon out back. Then we sort and cut ’em to length based primarily on weight. Our winch won’t pull up much more than 400 pounds so I guess at the weight of the log, cut it and leave it there for Sal to hog-tie or ‘choke’. Then I go back up the hill, about 125 feet up and at a 30 degree angle. I send down the highline and, on that line is chain-hoist. It used to be a block and tackle but a chain-hoist is easier for Sal and she has developed quite an efficient technique now that she is used to it. After she gets the hoist, she hooks on a ‘choked’ log and lifts it up in the air. It usually hangs about five feet off the ground. Then, when the log is in the air or at least mostly off the ground, I haul it up with the Honda powered winch. When the log has been lifted up the hill I lower it, disconnect it, drag it by brute force off to the side and send the whole hoist and choke assembly back down the hill to Sal where she awaits with the next log ready and already wearing a ‘choke’ (a nylon belt).
It is not the hardest chore in the world but it takes time, it requires strength and it can get dangerous. Well, it is always a bit dangerous but sometimes it is a smidge scary-dangerous and almost every time it is my fault. If I guess wrong on the log’s weight, the winch stalls out about half way up. When that happens, Sal climbs up, lowers the log and disconnects it – wherever it is. That’s right…she disconnects a 400+ pound log on a 30 degree slope. As a rule, they usually don’t just sit primly on the hill where they are dropped either. They kinda want to settle in where they want to settle in so the ‘release’ can be a bit dicey.
Once, when we were first starting out in years one or two, Sal had to do just that and yelled to me to ‘Drop the tension.” So, I did. While I turned my back to operate the machinery, Sal had (inexplicably) straddled the recalcitrant and heavy log like a cowgirl and, next thing you know, she is sliding backwards downhill with the log slowly rolling over her. She just disappeared under it as it rolled her into a bush and then, like a giant rolling pin, it just kept on going down hill. Sal lay upside down in the bush looking a bit flat.
“Oh yeah. The bush cushioned the weight. I am fine. Bit scary, though!”
We try to be careful but the lagoon is all slippery rocks, the logs are always all akimbo and also (*six words in a row all starting with the letter ‘a’, eh?) slippery to some extent and they are all lying like the game of pick-up-sticks only writ very large.
Today I went down to cut a big log with a tiny battery-powered chainsaw (my new more powerful one is coming Friday). This little one has a 12 inch bar. The log was about 15″ thick. The little saw worked hard and I used up half the battery on that one cut but we got ‘er done. Problem was the log was also quite jammed on the rocks. Lots of heavy lifting, rolling and jockeying to get at the cut and get it over to the chain hoist. I probably cut from three different sides of the round log and it took forever. As it turned out, that log was cut to within five pounds of the winch limit. It just barely made it up.
We now have about three years of wood given ‘normal winters’. Abnormal can be so defined if we go away like snowbirds are inclined to do. That will save wood. It can also apply if we stay home and it is extra cold for a longer time (like this year). That will double consumption. We may get four years, we may only get two. Still, a pile of drying wood is like money in the bank.