Friday, February 08, 2008

The Hills Are Alive With The Sound of Chainsaws


It’s been two months since our December storm. There are many blue tarps covering damaged roofs still visible through out the community. Thousands of broken and uprooted trees are still landscape features.

I’ve written before about how noisy my area has become in the summer with all the houses that have been built out in the country and how I looked forward to the rainy days of winter when people don’t go outside. The sounds of this winter have become louder because of the storm.

The storm itself was very noisy. Oddly the sound of the three day wind was so loud that it muffled the sound of trees falling. I watched some trees fall in that storm and never heard a thing other than wind. When a tree falls on a clam day the crash and thud can normally be heard and felt at great distances, but in the storm the wind drowned out any sounds.

Now that it is over you can still hear the sounds of chain saws buzzing like nests of angry yellow jackets all over the valley. They work from dawn to dusk along with the sounds of track hoes and skidders. I myself have used over five gallons of fuel and three gallons of bar oil in my chain saw since December.

Now I’m not complaining about the noise of chainsaws. They are the sound of the pride of ownership and good stewardship. Folks out our way have been working like beavers to get their property cleaned up and somewhat back to normal.

Another part of the cleanup is what looks like a post-apocalyptic scene of smoke and fire. These are slash burns. Consider how many branches are cut off just one tree. The time and expense of even hiring a commercial chipper is for the most part out of the question; especially when you have twenty or more trees to deal with.

I am stacking slash and will let it decompose naturally. It is a good habitat for wild life, but there are two piles that will be too unsightly so I will probably burn them.

Another sad outcome of the storm is that the trees that didn’t fall around my home have been damaged to the point where they will be a constant threat so they will need to be removed as well. It will soon look like a treeless prairie around here.

It will be nice when all the clean-up is finished and our valley returns to relative quiet, but by the time that happens the air will be filled with the sounds of motor cycles, mowers and string trimmers.

7 Comments:

Blogger Beth said...

It is so difficult to look at a still magnificent but damaged tree knowing it must come down.
My sympathies as to your significantly changed and somewhat barren landscape.

6:44 AM  
Blogger Mike S said...

Hmmmmm? We have several 'clean-burning' bio-plants that purchase and burn wood chips to generate power. No 'slash burning' here for some considerable time as they'll pay to take it away for you. The 'chip trucks' on the main road are so common we tell the weather by them. "If the chip trucks are slowing down, it MUST be slippery out!!"

7:26 AM  
Blogger Mom of Three said...

As soon as all that free wood seasons, the wood selling guys are going to have a horrible year.

But the amount of free wood is so great that I am tempted to get a wood stove just to get some free heat. Gas is killing us.

3:22 PM  
Blogger Crowbar said...

Sounds like a lot of time spent with a chainsaw Guy. Do you wear chaps?

3:24 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Beth, I've found that I get used to things eventually. I'm just starting to get used to seeing all the lights from neighboring homes at night. Yes I wish they'd turn them off, but I am getting used to it.

Mike, out here slash pulping is only cost effective if you can get 10 full trailer loads. I would have to have equipment walking all over replanted areas to get enough slash to pulp. I have several slash piles that are going down well from my last logging operation.

Mo3, if you dump your gas I won't give you any crap if go anti-LNG.
Wood heat is more work than it's worth.

Crowbar, I have in the past and never replaced them when they wore out. I never thought I'd be cutting this often after I switched from wood heat to a heat pump. I can't count the times I've thought about getting them again. I've never cut my leg, but I have come close. I'm having a pro come in. I gotten all the wood I need for personal use, and most of my fences are up and humming again.

4:06 PM  
Blogger Mike S said...

Damn Guy, that's so sad. Here there's even guys who'll drive around with a small chipper and clean places out for free. Most big operations will have a few smaller trucks just to haul the slash to centralized chipper 'plants' where they make a little on it after expenses. Perhaps the distances involved are the reason for the disparity as all the 'parts of the whole' are fairly close to each bio-plant here.

12:02 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Hopefully it will come to that one day. There are biomass tax incentives, but the volume needed to put anything together is very large. Instead, the animals get a safe place to hang out.

5:41 AM  

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