Andy (at his desk): "The computer-weather says it's going to rain after 2:00 this afternoon."
Me (coming in from taking the dogs out to "park"): There is some spotty blue sky, but clouds are moving in. 'Might rain later. Your computer-weather guys may well be right today.
Mutual decision: "Let's get out early and haul the stacks up from the north-side trail."
|One stack of wood.|
Gypsy is not eager to get off the couch; I leave FLD Gus in his crate. We took a long hike yesterday through the woods so a bit of down time won't hurt. Andy and I venture out without them, for now.
We load our Chevy S10 pickup with cut logs three times, driving carefully down the two-track tote path that runs the perimeter of our woods, to unload and stack this part of next winter's firewood in the woodshed near our Hawken furnace. We are like inverse squirrels--late winter/early spring storage instead of fall foraging. This is work best done before temperatures push past the 50's and the forest underbrush leafs out too thick.
Andy: "Okay, let's leave it at that. We can't get the rest until we open up the south-side trail."
We have two-to-three cords staged for pickup on a cross-trail near the south property border, but we need to open up a turn-around and fill in a few low spots to get the truck close. If these logs fill the woodshed, our work felling trees this spring is done. (As a backup, there is an abundance of natural tree falls we can harvest, and most of them are pretty well dry.) The old adage about using wood for heat is wrong--you don't get warm twice (cutting, then burning), but THREE times: 1) cutting, 2) stacking and hauling, 3) burning.
Me: I'll take the dogs out with me for a bit. I want to clear more of my trail.
THE CLEARING OF SNOW-SHOE TRAIL
FLD Gus, Gypsy, and I have been breaking a new trail through the middle of our 13 acres since we bought the place in December. "Snow-Shoe Trail" travels east to west, intersecting with three north/south cross-trails already in existence. Armed with my new pruning shears and the bow saw, we head out.
Gus watches intently as I lop off 1/4 inch seedlings, or saw thicker saplings that obstruct the trail and toss them aside. I edge the trail with long limbs. Gus gets excited about this; he hears a litany of "leave its" when he tries to help by grabbing each limb I set. In the winter he watched me drag downed, thick boughs back to the yard for the furnace, and took it upon himself to assist by dragging home the biggest limbs he could carry.
|FLD Gus maneuvering a long stick along Snow-Shoe Trail.|
I bend to snip another shoot; as I straighten I notice Gus is gnawing at the base of a sapling that is as big around as my finger. Gus, what are you doing?
He looks up at me briefly, and gets back to work. Four feet planted, Gus puts all of his 57 pounds behind each yank. The muscles under his sleek black-Lab coat ripple as he rocks to and fro gaining momentum against the roots. He's trying to pull the darn thing right out of the ground!
Gus tugs and tugs. Determined.
Just when I think I'm going to have to help him with the bow saw, the roots release their hold and Gus bounces back with the sapling hanging from his mouth. Good boy, Gus! I say and he drops it on the trail, panting a Lab-grin.
Forest Gus. Scary-smart pup.