Saturday, January 30, 2016

Learned a new thing

Close call

On a late September work trip to the property, I noticed a whole lot of bark debris in the road. Upon survey of the area, I found this slice out of the bark of a large spruce tree.

Puzzled as to what may have caused such a strange pattern, I brought D back the following weekend.  The slice started up in the tree and wound its way diagonally to the ground.  Besides the bark fragments in the road, and the slice through the bark, there were no other signs of trauma: no branches down, no chainsaw scars, no burn marks that we could see.

The slice started about 30-40 feet up in the tree but still 20 or 30 feet from the crown.

D, being the woodsman that he is, diagnosed the injury as a lightning strike!  So cool.  There had been big bad thunderstorms for a few days a week prior to my visit, and since this tall tree is near the ridge line, it made a perfect conduit for a lightning strike to find the earth.  What surprised me was the lack of any char.  We are thankful the thunderstorms came with heavy rain, which possibly prevented a catastrophic wildfire.


D got a new mean tool: the brushcutter.  This bad boy is basically a circular saw on a stick. 

We flagged where we think we want the driveway to go in and worked on clearing the path of brush and logs.

After a hard day's work, the sunsets are that much more beautiful.

We are nearing the end of summer and the snow will be flying soon.  We contracted a land surveyor to get our 2-foot contour map created, so we are excited about that.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Let's turn a profit, shall we?

Finally, we're starting to see some real, visible progress. Our brush and cut dead wood piles are really large.  


That was a very large diameter tree!
It's a shame some of this wood is so rotted as to be unusable as fuel, but there is plenty that will burn. 

She likes to sort the piles into like sizes.

I put an ad in the local online classifieds to sell any wood we could. (How much wood would a ...) 

This man came twice ...

and paid cash.

Obviously, we have come no where near turning a profit on this land, as the title of this post would suggest, but the wood sales put a dent in the sizable depression in our checking account that the chainsaw and brush cutter purchases created. It also helps to show that we are working the property, as opposed to sitting and holding it, in case that ever figures into our tax situation.

We occasionally see some wildlife.  The animals must know the residents of Wild West Acres are harmless, as they don't run very fast or far when approached.


We heard there was a disease affecting aspen this year, which would explain why the leaves on our trees are spotted or already brown and falling by late August.  It was also quite a dry summer.

8/29/2015 and the aspen leaves are brown

Next up: action videos.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Piles They Are A-Growin'

After the flurry of activity with AmeriCorps, we went up a week later and stacked and cleaned up.  Here are a few shots from mid July 2015. 

Because of the earlier trouble of wood theft, we posted obvious signs letting passersby know that this wood was not for the taking.  Our plan is to sell it for firewood.

The piles don't look so big on the photos, but the are starting to multiply across the property.

A brush pile makes for a not-so-soft resting spot.

More piles.
We took a little break after these few weeks of intense work to do some family vacationing.  I'll resume next Saturday morning's post with pics from August.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Americorps to the rescue!

We've been in contact with the local fire department. They are concerned about the amount of dead fall on our property and other parcels along the ridge because a forest fire could very easily spread from the large, un-managed forest in the remote drainage basin bordering our property to the north to our property and the others in the Wild West, many of which have expensive homes on them.  The fire chief turned D onto the AmeriCorps program, which had a crew of 6 or 7 young people stationed in the area.  Forestry management for fire protection around homes is one of the skills they are trained in and wanted to practice.  We gave them practice!

The AmeriCorps crew with Husband

Over the course of 2 days in July (2015), we worked with them to take down, move, and stack an enormous amount of dead wood.  They were incredibly hard working, engaged young men.  They were very happy to eat the lunch and snacks we provided, since their stipend for food is $5 per day per person!  We were happy to offer this small trade for a lot of back breaking work!

Two of the crew were chainsaw qualified, so we tasked them with cutting dead fall.

Snags are dangerous so we focused on them first.
Moving logs we had previously cut on the ridge line down to the road.

Two of the crew members spent all of one day, for a total of 10 man hours, chucking cut logs down from the ridge. D is caught in this action shot of flying wood helping them get the pile the last 40 feet or so.

Kings of the hill.
It was fun working with these guys!
A couple of other crew members helped on day 2, of which I have no photos. There was a lot of brush cutting on day 2.  We said thanks by throwing a pizza party for them in town at the end of day 2.

Overall, the AmeriCorp crews did about 50 hours of hard labor, which likely would have taken the two of us considerably longer given our aged physiques and tendency to stop for beer after 3 or 4 hours.  Thanks AmeriCorps!

Stay tuned for another post scheduled for next Saturday at 6 a.m. Mountain Time.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Summer work

Long overdue photos from this past summer during site visits to try and clear dead wood from the property.

Here are some pics from June work days

By late June our vegetation was all grown in and relatively lush.

Somebody's bed.  We see lots of elk crossing through our property heading to the neighboring property that has a small spring.

These trees don't seem huge for readers outside the arid Southwest, but they're pretty big for around here.

We made a "living room" for relaxing after hard labor.

My next post is an interesting one, featuring good looking young men.  It is scheduled for Saturday morning at 6 a.m. Mountain Time.