Sunday, February 22, 2009

Chasing Monsters

Though I awoke to a very cold morning, and just could not get going today, I did force myself to get out and get some work done. Back up the hill to the cedar grove and dropped three more trees that will make several timbers, mostly the 12+ inch diameter posts I so desperately need. On the last trip up I noticed off in the distance at one of the creek crossings that there was a down tree across a dry part of the washed out area. It was pretty well hidden by the undergrowth between it and where I had been traveling, but once I did finally notice it I just had to go take a look..

Turned out to be a fine old oak that had been uprooted sometime in the last several months. Here again was a monster tree for me to harvest! It was 22 inches in diameter where I cut it at the base, and to tell the truth I forgot to measure the diameter where I cut the top off, but I know that I could have cut it ten feet longer and still had greater than 12 inches in diameter! I cut this as a single 30 foot piece, knowing that this would allow me to span the greatest length of my house (in the uphill/downhill direction) as perhaps the main girder. 22 inches thick of Oak will certainly hold just about anything I might ever consider putting on top of it. Of course now I will have to use the monster cedars I harvested to support this monster girder, but hey I knew that was part of the deal.

For some of this I am overbuilding it and I know it. Do I need a 22 inch thick girder? No.. do I need 20+ inch thick posts? No.. but if I have the former I do need the latter.. still, what I am doing is taking what is available. I do need greater than 12 inches in diameter for some posts and some girders, so these fit that bill.. Heck I might put more earth on the section with these monsters so as to add to the temperature stabilizing effects.

Fortunately this oak was already laying down. I am not sure I would have tried dropping this one given its diameter and height. Still it did fall into what is essentially an arroyo, and I had to pull it out. This proved to be a great deal more challenging, exciting, and time consuming than I expected. The challenge was to lift the oak up out of the dry wash and keep it from digging in ant the same time. I was above it in a rocky area with the tractor, and could lift some, but as I was lifting it was also pulling the timber towards me, which made it dig in. I had to work it with both moving the tractor back, and lifting with the front end loader, then reposition and repeat. Did this for more than an hour just to get it up the 5-7 feet of incline (horizontal distance was about 25-30 feet) Another 45 minutes saw me make a makeshift sling off of the unroller on the back of the tractor, to hold up one end of the timber as I tried to drag it behind me across four water crossings, up and down several small inclines, across rocky patches and pastures, up the ridge, then finally across the good hay meadows (which I had to make sure not to tear up as they are not mine!) to finally rest for now just past the other stacks of timber.

Not the most productive day, but still a great day in my book given the discovery of this monster and getting it to its next to final resting place. There was also the bonus of having the bark largely stripped off of one side as I was dragging it up to the site. This will certainly save me some time!

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