The time had come to clear up the dead and downed trees so we rented a chipper and set to. Goggles on, earplugs in and we were off, seven hours later we staggered out and viewed our handiwork. The new field area was almost clear, almost, but not quite and we still had quite a bit of work to do on the other side of the electric fence.
Chipping was our last resort. I wanted to use a lot of the dead trees to make bio charcoal to put on the fields. However after working solidly for a whole weekend moving trunks and dead branches to the drying racks we looked at our meager progress we had made and realized that this was not going to work. We had only made a small dent in the project and the racks were full. It had taken us a lot of time to do very little. It was not productive and it was wasting time.
So chipping was the only option. We started by renting a chipper from Home Depot. However that was an abortive project as the feed on it did not work and Steve had to take it back after an hour and get our money back. Yet another delay.
Finally we located a larger chipper for rent but it was an hours drive away. So Steve had to get up at 5.30am to get there for 7am on Saturday morning when they opened and drive it back. We ate breakfast and started out around 9.30am. It was overcast and threatening rain but the rain never came, the clouds stayed most of the day which was great as it kept the temperature down.
Much of the time was spent dragging dead trees to the chipper and watching them get chomped into chips. I have to admit its pretty satisfying to watch. However the chipper would not take the large trunks of many of the trees so we had to cut them down to size and chip only the top portion of the tree. Then all the smaller branches had to be cleared up and run through the chipper. That was the job that fell to me, mostly because I was not strong enough to haul the larger trees with all the branches still attached to the chipper. Clean up was essential as moving around with a chain saw to cut up trees with lots of loose brush on the ground can be dangerous. I moved the smaller trees but Steve did the larger ones. Only the two of us available for the task this weekend, but to be fare more than two and there would have been a lot of standing around waiting for the chipper to be available to chip your contribution. With two of us one was at the chipper while the other went for more to feed its hungry maul.
At the end of Saturday we were both very tired, sore, stiff and aching.
But next morning we were up again, and after a bit of creaking and hobbling got moving and put in another seven hours to almost finish the job off. Sunday was bright and sunny, the temperatures were not as high fortunately because it was hot work in the sun, dragging trees around.
We finished off the main area behind the fence, the dropped the electric fence and dragged the trees from the second area to the chipper too. Most of the trees in this area had been cut down but there were still a few dead ones standing. Fortunately they were mostly dead and smaller so Steve cut them down and I dragged them straight to the chippers maul. There are still a few left, some are large and need cables to help bring them down safely and not hit our new hoop house, others are holding up the electric fence so cant be cut down until we get the fenced moved to its new route. There area also a few dead ones on the perimeter of the chosen area. Until you get them down its hard to see that there are yet more dead trees behind them that need to come down.
We did not get everything done that we would have liked. I would like to have cleared up more of the fallen branches from our grove and under the white pine stand, plus we still have a couple of older brush piles that have accumulated over the past few years. Those need to go too, but fourteen hours of chipping is enough. The rest can wait for another day.
Monday I went back out to take the after photos and count the stumps, the only real way to determine how many trees we cut dragged off and moved. Some stumps are a bit rotten as the trees fell over on their own, others are pretty easy to spot.
The main area we set out to clear had 106 stumps from trees we removed. The area on the near side of the fence had 54 stumps. This count does not include the ones we had already put on the racks, or those taken down last year to help clear space for the new hoop house.
That comes to 160 trees that we dragged, cleared and chipped in a fourteen hour marathon chipping session.
That number did make us both rather chipper! Stiff, sore but chipper!