{Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn}

Today was pretty crazy. I slept in until... 10:40 I think, though my phone alarm has been set for 8AM for a WHILE and hasn't been going off - or, I've gotten Really good at turning it off in my sleep without even noticing it. I'm pretty worried about that. It's easy to go to bed early here, I'd like to sleep early and wake early after a good 9 or 10 hours of sleep, which seems to be the house norm.

So today I started with a breakfast of cereal and a homemade whole wheat bagel while I read a book called Native American Architecture - it actually separates out cultural regions and sorts out climate, ecology, raw materials, and typical building structure. I really like that it doesn't assume you'll be importing materials to build your home that Aren't natural to your region. I'd like to build a home from all natural materials that is naturally suited to the climate I'm in.

After reading for a little while, Amber finished sharpening two axes with a whittling stone and we went to the red shed and finished sharpening them with a grinding wheel that Doug brought over - it clamped right to the table and one of us held the axe while the other cranked. It was pretty tough, but really rewarding to feel a freshly sharp blade.

Once the axes were ready to go we tromped outside to look for some saplings to harvest for a treefort loft bed we want to build inside using crotches in saplings and lashing to hold it together. Amber spotted a Large tree (as wide at the trunk as I am) that was dead and asked if I thought I could handle it. The infinite optimist, I said of course and we got to work. Amber had only felled very small trees before, and I'd only ever taken out a 3" tree with a simple hand saw.

All was well, for a while. We hacked a big notch into one side of the tree and got to see the greenish disease that had killed it from the inside. After a while we started on the back cut that would send the tree in the right direction. As we got closer to finishing, Amber decided she was chickening out and wanted me to finish (this is coming from a lady who can skin and process deer, make rawhide, and is all-around kickass). I worked on it for a while, but it soon became obvious that the tree was disconnected from the stump but was still balancing there regardless. We got it to tip a little bit, but then it ended up hanging, supported by the high-up branches of some neighboring trees. Once we knew what direction it was going to fall, we went to grab some rope to send up around the top to try and pull it down.

As we were carrying the rope back towards the studio and the falling tree, Amber remarked that we were like Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. I asked who would be which, and said I didn't think I could be a Tom Sawyer, he's so charismatic and even haughty... but I'm also not cool enough to be Huck. She thought felling a tree was enough to move me into the Huck category. I'm still not sure.

We couldn't get that damn tree off its stump. Our solution was to pick up a fallen log nearby and use it as a battering ram to inch the tree off its stump. That worked after a few nerve-wracking minutes, and then the tree was OFF the stump, a few feet away, but still stuck up top in the neighboring branches.

We still needed to get the top of the tree to fall.

We tied a rectangular hunk of wood to the end of the rope we had brought over and started swingin, trying to have it fall above a tall crotch in the wood so we could tie it off and pull from high up to get the right type of leverage. We swung for a While. Eventually I stood behind the stump, looking up the base of the tree where the vantage point seemed best, and shot the wood like a basketball. I got real close when I started acting like it was a basketball. It actually took a crazy blend of skill sets - I ended up Standing on the stump, balancing (belly dance) and carefully aiming and shooting the wood (like basketball) into the crotch. Finally I got it, and it fell through the crotch and we took the wood off and tied a knot in the rope and got to pullin. We pulled from a few different directions before getting the tree to fall more.

The tree fell again - a bit. It ended up stuck in the crotch of Another tree's branch that was alive and well, and thus Strong. We tried just pulling the dead tree, but the holding branch was too strong. We tied a long dog lead to the Live branch and tried to break IT, but it was too strong. We considered tying up the bottom of the Dead tree and pulling it Backwards, out of the grasp of the live tree, but we would have had to get it past the Stump, and THAT wasn't happening.

We ended up getting a ladder, setting it on the side of the live tree that the dead tree Wasn't on, and using a hand saw to cut off that damn live branch that was holding it up. FINALLY it fell.

Wow, what a feeling of triumph. Amber and I sat down on the fallen tree for a few minutes and just laughed at how ridiculous it had been. It took all day! We did a lot of the axe work before lunch, then went back at it afterward. We didn't tell Deanne - who had just been telling us about her fear of anyone using chainsaws on her watch - until the tree was completely down, safe and sound. Amber and I had a really great moment when the tree first started tipping, and I had to drop the axe and run the hell out of the way. It was an awesome feeling, though my stomach clenched up in FIGHT OR FLIGHT! and I was happy to realize that I HAD dropped the axe and run without thinking too much, and had made it to safety. I felt pretty good about that. I've had very few opportunities in my life to really be challenged like that, in a life or death type situation.

I felled a smaller tree (about 6" wide) after the first one was down. We had Deanne come out and take pictures of us sitting on the big tree. I'll upload them once I can get the camera hooked to the computer again.

Phew. Wait'll you see this damn tree. It made for one crazy day.

Comments

cricket arovd whoever the hell i am said…
one word: EEEEEEEEK!
-d