The Farmer Turns Lumberjack

September 4, 2007

I mentioned a few days ago that The Farmer bought a new chainsaw. Naturally, he had to test it out. He chose a tree in the front yard as his first victim. This tree had gotten progressively worse for a long time. Every year there were fewer and fewer limbs with green leaves as the tree got deader and deader.

There were a few problems with this project, however. On one side of the tree was a fence. Behind and to the other side were more trees. Most importantly, our house was in front of the tree, and worse, the tree was leaning in towards it. Therefore, the problem was to get the tree down without smashing the fence, or inflicting damage to the house.

The Farmer thought he had it all figured out. He put one rope on the tree he wanted downed, and another rope on a second tree behind it, then connected them with a winch. The theory being, of course, that once he had the tree sawed almost in two, he could tighten the winch and make the tree fall AWAY from the house.

Of course theories don’t always prove out exactly as expected.

The Farmer turned lumberjack had the right idea. He cut a wedge out of the tree on the side he wanted it to fall.

Then he sawed almost completely through the other side. Next, he started winching (not the pirate type of wenching, mind you, but the cranking a handle kind of winching).
Here’s where the trouble began. The ropes had stretched out, so even after all the cable was winched back onto the spool, the tree wasn’t leaning far enough in the right direction to fall down. However, if the cable on the spool was loosened to allow the winch to be repositioned, the tree leaned dangerously towards the house.

A pretty problem indeed!

Being mechanically minded, The Farmer decided to go get his tractor to keep the tree propped up long enough to loosen the ropes and shorten the length, then reattach the winch and start cranking the cable tight again.

Unfortunately, the tractor didn’t cooperate. It had a dead battery, so naturally wouldn’t start and couldn’t be moved to where the tree was. The Farmer was in a fix all right. It takes something pretty big to hold a tree in place.

At last, The Farmer decided he didn’t have anything to lose by finally trying his assistant’s suggestion. (It’s an unwritten rule that men cannot act on a woman’s suggestion until she has repeated it at least three times, and they have tried at least one idea of their own, and preferably two or three.)

The suggestion? Connect another piece of rope to the anchor tree, thread it through the loop at the end of the rope attached to the sawed-upon tree, then secure it back to the anchor tree, thereby keeping the leaning tree from falling on the house. That allowed The Farmer to attach the winch to a shorter piece of rope so he could tighten it up more and get the tree falling in the desired direction.
Once all that was accomplished, the project moved forward again. The tree started to fall in the right direction, but the upper branches caught in the tree beside it. The branches were dead, but still fairly sturdy.

Finally, after a little more judicious sawing, and some resounding thumps with a pry bar, the tree fell in a serious of crashes of trunk, then several big limbs.

I stopped the camera just a little too soon and missed The Farmer saying,
“At least everything missed me!”

The Farmer was lucky to survive his lumberjack experience, as one of the dead limbs caught in the tree barely missed landing right on top of his head when it finally dropped. You can see the force of the landing by how the log is driven deep in the dirt.

I don’t think even The Farmer’s head would have been hard enough to withstand that! I guess his guardian angel must have been looking after him, allowing him to walk away unscathed.

Just another day in the life of The Farmer turned Lumberjack.

Busy as a Bee!

September 1, 2007

Bang, bang, bang! I can’t decide if I feel like I’m sitting in the middle of a shooting gallery, or it sounds like someone shooting off fireworks. Dove hunting season began at 12 noon here, and there are obviously LOTS of hunters busy taking advantage of it.

According to Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency, the mourning dove is the most hunted migratory game bird in North America. I believe it, and I think every possible hunter is out there for the start of the season. The dove may be the symbol of peace, but they’ll be in pieces if they show a feather today.

While hunters are busy terminating doves, here on the farm we’re hoping for new life. One of the peahens is sitting on 4 eggs. It sure would be nice to see some little peachicks running around in the aviary. It just hasn’t been our year for peachicks. So far, zilch, nada, none.


While the hunters were after doves and the peahen sitting on her eggs, The Farmer was busy mowing the back yard today. This is news because it’s the first time he’s done it in years. We sold off the majority of our sheep and goats, and don’t have enough left to keep the grass eaten down like we used to.

He also tried out the new chainsaw he bought today. His previous chainsaw expired from old age. He sent it to the shop to be fixed and the bolts fell apart. Yeah, you could say it was extremely old.

While The Farmer was busy checking out his new chainsaw, some old trouble showed up to see what was happening. And what’s the biggest source of trouble on the farm? Why, the ornery little goats of course.

The one busy chewing Farmer’s pants is his special pet, a cashmere goat named Tom Thumb. He is the rare goat that would rather be petted than eat cracked corn.

And while the hunters hunted, the peafowl sat, and The Farmer sawed, there were bees and bugs busy gathering nectar from the newly blooming Sedum ‘Matrona’.

All around the area today, people and critters were busy as bees!

Reconstruction

August 5, 2007
The Farmer got busy yesterday and set about making a new door for the aviary — a stronger, sturdier and hopefully goat-proof door. Nothing is ever simple, so it took several hours of work.

First, he took an old screen door, and reinforced it with sturdy wire mesh on both sides, making it more than strong enough to keep the peafowl in, and tough enough to keep the goats from going through the door itself.

That was only half of the equation however. To keep them from pushing the door open or knocking it down, it needed a sturdy wood frame to keep the door solidly in place.
  
During the construction, a little kit (baby rabbit) hopped by to pay a visit. This little one must have just left the nest to still be so tiny.
When the goats came by to inspect the new door –

…they also checked out the teeny-tiny visitor.

Finally the door was completed and securely in place. I don’t think the goats will move it anytime soon!

From Bad To Worse…

August 2, 2007

… Or the continuing saga of goats and peafowl.

All right, so on Tuesday the goats tore down the door to the aviary and all of the peafowl escaped. We rounded up all but two peahens and got them back in their smaller pen. At the last minute we discovered one of the last two peahens on the electric wires, but never saw the other.

Come Wednesday, and it’s status quo: one peahen missing, one on the electric wires. Later in the day I looked out the window and didn’t see her doing her high wire act. I thought, “All right! She’s down.” Wrong! I went outside and discovered all she did was move into the tree between the wires and the house.

The temps were up in the mid-90’s yesterday, so I needed to effect some kind of repair on the aviary gate so I could let the peafowl back in. They needed more space and access to their little wading pool to splash around in and stay cool.

The door was still intact, just knocked off the supports, so I used bungee cords to fasten it back in place. I knew that would suffice to keep the peafowl in their pen. The problem was keeping the goats OUT of the pen.

Taking a page out of The Farmer’s “Jury Rigging Manual”, I went looking for a wooden pallet. I found one wider than the door opening and tied it in place. To make sure the goats couldn’t climb up the slats, I turned it so they were vertically oriented.

It wasn’t long until the goats came to investigate my repairs.

Now here it is, 2 days since the Great Escape, and as it stands,
a) the goats haven’t found a way to get through the wooden pallet (good!),
b) one peahen is still missing (bad!), and
c) one peahen is still up in a tree (rats!).

The Farmer decided this evening it was time to matters into his own hands and find a way to get this peahen down out of the tree. She was too high up for any ladders we have, so he got the bright idea to use my BB gun, just pumped up enough so the BB would reach the peahen and maybe sting and annoy her, but not do any real damage.

The bright idea rather backfired. He did indeed get her out of the tree… you know, the one close to the house? Yep, she flew out of that tree…. and way back to the woods and roosted in a tree there. Bad to worse indeed.

He tried the same BB tactics to get her out of that tree, but she wasn’t falling for it again.

Failing with that tactic, he then threw a rope up in the tree to snag the branches she was on and shake them. She hung on and rode it out. Finally he had to admit defeat. But stay tuned! It ain’t over until the fat lady sings, or the peafowl comes down out of the tree.

The score is peahens 1, Farmer 0.

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