If you want to increase your success rate, double your failure rate.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Death Tree and Learning a Lesson the Hard Way

Good morning peoples! 
Sitting low in my chair (too fat) and still sipping the bottom of the last cup from the first pot of coffee(soon perhaps an espresso) and aching like the Pillsbury dough boy who got too close to the rolling pin I present to you a lesson of sorts.  (knee, hip and back)  If you haven't read yesterdays post please take the time to do so.  I won't link it because it is right there on the side.(somewhere)
Yesterday was wood cutting day (no surprise Bushman,you bore us with this all the time) and once the boy arrived (without his sister, she apparently decided to change her plans, smart girl) I cooked him a fat breakfast of eggs, sausage and potatoes.  We loaded up and headed to the woods.  (many things forgotten)
Once there I sized up the tree and began cutting.  Big tree, me nervous, second guessing, terrified all of this added up to it taking almost an hour to fell the beast.  I made my angle cut and started my back cut only to realize I had forgotten my wedge and sledge.  I know sounds like an infomercial.  "Buy it today folks the wedge n sledge will take all the guess work out of storing laundry under the bed" 
So now I have a precariously (so I thought) tree perched atop a small chunk of wood inside it's own trunk.  It is growing perfectly straight and no lean to help me in my felling. So I jump in the truck and run up to the brother in law's garage and after a quick phone call I find a big hammer and a chisel and some sort of pipe that I can hopefully turn into a makeshift wedge.  I also forgot my bar oil for the saw and had to borrow that as well.  (wanna be lumberjack)  Tools in hand I head back to the death tree. 
The cut looks good (just like it shows on the internet) so I put in the wedge (chisel) and give it a few good hits.  Nothing.  Few more. Nothing.  So I try the other "wedge" Nothing.  Now mind you this giant tree is only held up by a strip of wood that is about 2 inches wide and only as long as the diameter of the tree itself about 30 inches.  I don't know the total weight of the tree in its current shape but I would guess over a ton.  (For my international readers that is a shit pot of weight or 2000 lbs)  probably more.
Now I'm really nervous.  I fire up the saw and start cutting the edges a bit more (wedge still stuck in middle) A cut here and a cut there and by now this thing is almost levitating and still won't go down.  Of course while doing that I just had to go and knick the steel "wedge" with the chain.  Which is now about as sharp as a marble.  This whole time my adrenaline is pumping, sweat pouring from every nook and crannie on my body and my arms are shaking like a fat guy driving past a McDonald's.  I take the hammer and blast the wedge as hard as I can finally I hear the smallest little crack.  I give it another whack.  Pop.  One more good one and the Rice Krispie boys start singing and I run out of there faster than  Jehovah Witness from my door when I answer it with my shotgun in hand.   KaBoom it comes crashing down.  Limbs exploding everywhere.  A big smile on my sweaty face I look up at Joe(who has remained safely at the truck for over an hour now) and I see that he is happy as well (if only so we can hurry up and get done). 
So I start cutting (after a run to the brother in laws for a quick sharpen on my mutilated chain) and we soon have a full load and are headed home.  Smiling the whole way because there are a few more loads left in that one tree. 
At home I fire up the splitter and throw the first log on to it, press the lever and..............well let me tell you this.  I discovered it was a white elm and not a red and the damn thing splits about as good as my wife takes orders. (in case you didn't know almost impossible)  So many hours later the truck load is split and stacked and Joe and I are freezing because its 30 degrees and the wood splits so slow and tedious we are not able to move sufficiently to stay warm.  In the house we go and I start to do a little research on the death tree.  At the time I was clueless as to what it could be if not red elm.  Well I found out that it is a medium to medium high on the burn scale which means as far as BTUs per cord.  British Thermal Units is what heat is measured by.  Approximately 24,500,000 BTU per.  With the best wood being around 32,000,000 and the lowest around 19,000,000.  I learned it is awful to split (didn't need the net to learn this)  Everything points to it as being very hard to work with but burnable.  Don't buy it but if it's free then by all means.
Here is what is left to cut and split.  I hadn't made it to the main trunk yet.
Here is the stump.  Notice how little wood was left.

Here is a shot of the nasty twisted piece of firewood after going through the splitter.

I now know why the tree was able to hold on with so little wood left.  The gnarly twisted grain of the wood makes it very strong.  Hmmm lesson learned (the hard way)
What to do what to do.
Maybe I'll cut it into rounds, stack it and split it for next year.
So my lesson to you is I don't care how dead it looks, how cold your house is or what the cost of Propane is,  leave the White Elm in the woods!
Stay home and have a cappuccino and search the computer for the right wood to cut down!

I bought Momma an espresso/cappuccino thingy for Christmas.
I love playing with it though.  Here is a vanilla cappuccino (with steamed milk of course) and topped with  hazelnut chocolate shavings.

Happy Home Heating


  1. "I love playing with it though."
    You DO mean the espresso/capuccino thingy, right?
    Nice way to hang tough with that tree. I more than likely would have given up (and have left a horrendous tree booby-trap ready to pulverize unsuspecting hikers). You're a better man than I.
    Now you can go play with whatever you like.

  2. Okay Bushman, I read the last post, I’m caught up…
    bummer about the knees - touch wood (reaches to her head and knocks) mine have been towing the line...so far!

    I like what Gene Pool Diva said about getting the “sweat equity” out of the kids! Good plan.

    Now...about this post…

    First off, good call on the gift for Momma - I’m sure she doesn’t mind you playing with it, so long as she’s getting some too!!

    As to the white elm...man, this is a page turner post; I am on the edge of my comfy, well padded office chair, with my freshly brewed Coffee,warm and toasty (thanks to strategically located gas fireplaces) and I’m thinking...this guy deserves whipping cream on his coffee, for all his efforts! Real whipping cream!


  3. The fun espresso thingy sounds great. I used to have those same glass mugs in my restaurant. People loved them. As for being a lumberjack...I'll enjoy the stories through you! Glad you got it down safely. Take care of yourself too. Stay warm!

  4. Glad it's you cutting down the trees and not me. Did that when I was a kid. Didn't like it then and I'm sure I would not like to do it now. I'm with Jenny on the cappuccino ... throw some whipped cream on there next time and let it melt in. Oh Yum!


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