Cutting Up the Fallen Hickory

August 28th, 2009

A busy day yesterday with a few projects, including finally getting around to cleaning up a fallen hickory tree below the dam.  Seems like it was late spring over a year ago when this tree blew down in a storm.  When I saw it laying across the path then it looked a little intimidating. And the trunk was just too unstable for some time… to think of cutting something unstable that weighed thousands of pounds nearly head-high with a chain saw was not my idea of fun.  So I decided to think about it a while…  And see that vine running along the tree?  That was a poison ivy vine over an inch thick that ran all the way to the top of the tree.


But the tree didn’t affect too much where it lay, except acting as a locked gate that blocked the path to the boy’s secret spot.  Getting that tree cut up was one of those myriad things that’s been bothering me to get accomplished, especially when the boy asked when I was going to move it away…  so for whatever reason I finally decided to tackle it yesterday, over a year later.  Well the reason also involved the fact that the ground was finally hard enough to get the tractor down there too.    Meanwhile the vegetation grew and grew back there, with brambles, weeds and all sorts of critters.  


With time the tree had also “sank down” and settled a little more over the past year making it easier (and safer!) to cut with a chain saw.   It was about waist high now and I started at one side, below the trunk and made a cut halfway up. Then on top of the log to make a wedge cut and Whump! – one side of the tree fell safely to the ground near the stump.  With a bit of lucky foresight, I made several more cuts from underneath so that when the log was on the ground it would be easier to cut into rounds.


So then to cut the other side after which another Whump! as the log rolled away. Always good to make sure where your hands, feet and saw blade are when things start moving!   Bucking a tree safely can be challenging- they don’t seem like big pieces, but each round was probably close to 150 pounds.  We’ve had other fallen trees from storms, and I’ve written about chainsaw safety before too. Like many tools the chainsaw can be a blessing, but it can also get you in trouble quickly.

Finally the log is on the ground in pieces.  Then it was just a matter of moving the rounds to where I would split them, and that’s where the tractor and loader came in.


Most of the year the ground is too soft below the dam, and even a small compact tractor is too heavy and would leave ruts, or the tractor could become stuck.   But we’ve only had a little rain the past month so I was able to gingerly drive down the hill along the fence side, and make three trips hauling rounds back up one hill and across the dam, then up another hill to the barn.   Hooray!


Of course the final thing to do was to cut that overgrown secret spot… and it felt good to run around chopping up the weeds and brush.  Amazing how fast nature takes over when you leave things be, but I like it a lot better opened up.    Doesn’t this look nice?  I still need to take a pole saw and the chain saw and cut the borders of the woodlands.  For now the bluebirds and flycatchers can enjoy a little open forest area.


Think we’ll wander around the secret spot today a bit- I know someone who will be pleased. Of course he never let that ‘ole tree stop him before, he just ran down the hill through the woods!

8 Responses to “Cutting Up the Fallen Hickory”

  1. Seasoned hickory, sounds like time for a barbecue (just get rid of that vine before hand!) Any of the wood log size? Carve yourself a rifle stock?

  2. Your adventure with that fallen tree is a familiar tale, one that I’ve experienced and one that merits frequent repeating.

    What is that secret spot all about, or is that a secret?

  3. Keep an eye on those cut trunk sections next spring for some interesting wood boring beetles :)

  4. I second Sage’s suggestion viz. a little slow, hickory smoked pulled pork.
    As for the delay in cutting it, as you point out, it was easier. Many of life’s problems become more manageable (or disappear) if you just wait a while. I’ve become a devotee of the phrase “overtaken by subsequent events,” when it pertains to life’s travails.


  5. Sage- Hey, good point; I had not even considered that! Too focused on splitting wood for winter, but I’ll have to save some and see if it’s aromatic enough for cooking. There may be some larger pieces to make a walking stick!
    Pablo- I imagine you’ve seen that more than a few times over the years! Oh- the secret spot? We were playing down there a few years ago and the young boy proclaimed it as his place, a secret spot to visit now and then. He says it’s very peaceful.
    We stopped by yesterday… :)
    Ted- Great point- I’ll have to watch for them; I have noticed many boring holes on some older wood pieces as well- but I haven’t noticed which critters emerged from them!
    Randall- I am still learning that sense of longer term patience… my nature is to accomplish things and move on, so it bugs me when I haven’t taken care of something. As you mentioned I learned happily that the tree was in a much better position to cut! As for your phraseology… that was a common refrain in the service: When the situation changed, or something no longer applied, it become “OBE”… with the same meaning as yours :)

  6. What a difference a hundred miles or so makes. We are having the wettest August on record and just had four inches of rain last week. I’m guessing we are almost ten inches above normal in August. Do you want me to send some of that your way? I’m tired of being the new Seattle.

    Although hickory is good for smoking, apple is where it is at!

  7. Ed- Wow, that’s a lot more moisture than we’ve had. But it has really been cool this summer!

  8. My Tough Stuff

    MMM, hickory :-)

    BBQ time, love it for smoking.

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