Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Cute Animals, and Learning to Buck Firewood

 It's always good to start a post with a cute goat. Well, as cute as a creature that looks like it is trying to see through your soul and or time can look. Disturbingly enough, the answer is very cute.

Anyhow, on to what has actually been going on. We dropped by Michelle Chandler's Blessed Acre Rabbitry which is also home to a lot of vegetable gardening, chickens, and Nigerian Dwarf Goats. Really it is where we want to be with our homesteading in five years, and it is nice to see it in action. There are obviously things we will be doing differently, and lessons we are learning from visiting Michelle, there are also a lot of things that are an inspiration and things we say to ourselves, "We should do that." It was nice to be able to talk about the realities of planning out fencing for holding the goats, and what sort of price we might be looking at. The answer is, fairly steep even if I do it myself using standard methods. The biggest thing we got from visiting though is a reminder of just how much food you can grow in a small area. She has one acre, half of which is in light woods. In the light woods her chickens and goats roam. On the cleared half acre she has her rabbit hutches and many garden plots. Now that we have actually learned about gardening enough to try it next year, with proper work we can probably feed ourselves for most of the year out of our own garden.

That was reinforced, and we learned more about what we would have to do to have a functional long term garden when we went to the UMass Amherst Permiculture Group's lecture on seed saving and plant breeding. Getting real solid information on how to save seeds for long term use, and how to make sure the seeds we use are going to be producing consistent crops was vital. We also were provided with a whole bunch of links for more information on how to do seed saving and seed breeding. Once we have read through them and can give some solid information on them we will provide links. The one I am comfortable providing now is the "Occupy the Seed" website Seed Freedom. I haven't read through it yet, but it is a good website for people interested in permiculture and even just back yard gardening to know about. Really I think that it's good for farmers to know about but that's a different scale.

The Lady of the House got some photos of me learning to safely use a chainsaw this weekend. Her father came to teach me how, and help out with the process. Things that I have learned about using a chainsaw, listed as rules of chainsaw use.

1: Don't be stupid.
2: Don't relax until the chainsaw is off, and the chain is no longer spinning.
3: Make sure your chainsaw is properly oiled every time you pick it up.
4: Don't push it, let the chainsaw do the work. If you don't it will over heat.
5: Know how to properly use your chainsaw as with any tool, and make sure it is properly maintained.

This link has a comprehensive set of rules on how to use a chainsaw, and I thought was a very good thorough article with links to more. http://www.safetyxchange.org/health-safety/16-chainsaw-safety-rules-part-2-of-3

My personal experience using a chainsaw was that it wasn't difficult but it is different for me than using tools I am used to. I am used to working with tools where you push the tool at a reasonable pace and it gets through the wood. With the chainsaw, it took me a bit to learn but it isn't so much you pushing as letting gravity and the tool do the work. What I needed to learn to do was move the chainsaw around enough that it could get a clear path to throw the chips and sawdust clear. You can see Above that I am not really getting much flying away from the saw. That is where I am just trying to push down. In the second picture to the Left you can see a nice clear stream of chips flying from the tree. At that point I was mostly just holding the chainsaw steady and wiggling it around. Almost seesawing it rocking it back and forth so I wasn't just cutting straight through the center, I was cutting edge, center, edge, center and so on. Below as I got near the bottom of the tree I had to get closer to the ground to work with the saw effectively.

If I could only give one piece of advice to someone learning to use a chainsaw, it would be to not learn to use a chainsaw from any online resource no matter how comprehensive. Find someone that knows how, and have them teach you. I don't mean a fifteen minute class from the guy at the chainsaw store either. Absolutely that is needed to learn to use that particular chainsaw. I mean someone who can come, watch you work, and give thorough advice. As an example, I was working on a log and within a minute, the blade was smoking. I thought there was something wrong with the chainsaw, but no, I was pushing down hard. If the father of the Lady of the House hadn't been there I would have had no idea, and that is difficult to be able to tell someone without watching them work.

We worked for about six hours bucking (cutting to length) and splitting wood. We got a fair amount done, but we still have quite the pile of trees to work with. I will be doing most of this from now on by myself. My primary consideration when doing so is safety around the tree pile. To safely cut with a chainsaw you need to make sure the tip doesn't hit anything because if you do it will bounce up and hit you in the face before your muscles can even twitch to react. This obviously ruins your partner's day since you won't be around to worry about it. So generally to avoid that you have to roll the trees to easier to work with locations. When you do that you obviously have to drag them off the pile. So I am going to be careful so the pile doesn't fall on me. And in the end, if I'm not comfortable, I will just stop and wait until I can get help. Getting it done Now isn't worth risking life or limb being an idiot.

1 comment:

  1. Other concerns of chainsaw use:

    - Not ever letting it hit the ground. This will dull your blade faster than you think.
    - Peform basic maintenance on your chainsaw after every lengthy use. It's super easy, and won't take you much time.
    - The safety lever on top of your chainsaw is your friend.
    - WEAR. GOOGLES. Seriously. :-P