The Electric Saw
I never thought I’d use an electric saw to cut firewood. But a couple of biggies persuaded me otherwise.
Biggy Number 1
I traded in my medium size Oleo Mac chainsaw for a Husqvarna model with heaps of forestry block grunt. For those in the know (which I’m definitely not!), it has a power output of 3.4 kW, and a cylinder displacement of 65.1 cc. It weighs way over 7kg with a full tank of fuel. Before I’d even used it I was in awe of the size and power of the thing.
When I first kicked it into life, it all seemed too heavy, too long, too noisy, and too fast – the chain on its 20 inch bar doing revolutions like it needed to get them all in before revolutions went out of fashion. Had slightly built little Graham got himself a machine that was going to be scarily too much for him? That impression seemed to be confirmed on its debut outing when I caught the underside of the chain tip on a small gum log fit for popping in the woodstove’s firebox.
It cannonballed some twenty metres on a trajectory that shot it over the front verandah’s railing and across its concrete deck, before beginning its downward descent by popping through the glass of a lounge window.
That was eight years ago and our insurance policy at the time covered the replacement of one broken window per year. Soon after, their contents policy dropped the freebie.
The new chainsaw would make quick work of cutting tree trunks and hefty side branches into firebox length rings, but I’d have to take extra care when using it to cut small diameter branches – window replacement was going to be expensive from now on!
Of course that wasn’t going to stop me cutting logs in an out of the way corner of the front lawn. It was so convenient to stack the firewood under the trees near the front verandah – and a mere few strides from wood pile to house. Carting even that short distance is chore enough year round, without the added delights of a howling nor’wester, torrential rain, or a snow-laden winter blizzard.
I did eventually get over the nervous apprehension bordering on fright I felt whenever I had to use it, and now what I have to guard against is complacency. One of life’s little ironies!
Biggy Number 2
It was a buzz of activity that took place a couple of years after I got my big Husqvarna that convincingly tipped the scales in the direction of an electric log cutting saw.
A hundred odd gums in a shelterbelt – towering over thirty metres in height, several with trunk diameters that would swallow the length of my 20 inch saw bar – had grown beyond my tree felling skills.
And beyond my tolerance for windfalls! I never again wanted to be faced with repairing damage on the scale witnessed when sixteen of them came down over gates and fence lines: the ground had become super-saturated by torrential rains followed by deep snow, with the coup de grace delivered by a severe gale force nor’wester.
The Fairlie Lions Club got in Shaun, a local who had felled trees when working for a forestry company. The club got the big trunks to cut up for firewood they could sell to raise funds, and we were left with all the side branches, slender tops, and twiggy excess.
And what an excess! Half a dozen high, sprawling bonfire piles worthy of the Sussex Downs fire beacons that had alerted Francis Drake and his sailors that the Spanish Armada had been spotted in the English Channel.
Murray, a local farmer and member of the club, said he’d use the front jaws on his tractor to carry the branches, which would be ideal for our woodstove, closer to the house. June and I got straight onto it, spending three long days trimming off leafy twigs, getting branches to manageable lengths and putting them in piles that the jaws could clamp around. We didn’t want to risk him getting too busy with work on the farm to get back to our trees!
I rang Murray as soon as we were done. “That would be what, something like seven piles to cart?” he asked.
“More like nineteen – there was a lot of wood in those side branches.”
An unusually long pause on the other end of the line. You could read into that silence that there was a heap more to cart than he had anticipated – what had he let himself in for! But, “Okay, I’ll be there tomorrow morning,” was all he said.
And he was, keeping at it till all the heaps placed side-by-side made a two metre high wall for most of the length of the small ‘Feedout’ paddock near the house.
It kept us in firewood for the best part of three years. And yep, the branches, which ranged from 3-4cm up to 13-14cm in diameter, were whizzed into woodstove firebox size logs (approximately 30 cm), by the electric log cutting saw I’d purchased for the job.
For those in the know (which I’m definitely not!), it has a power output of 1.5 kW which is the equivalent, apparently, of about 2 hp. However I do know that it does the job.
That’s all on modern-day homesteading at Little Owl Gully till next Monday. Thanks for your company. Bye for now.