Monday, April 30, 2012

Day 4 of chainsaw trial. Well this was an odd day as it started out rainy, which with a battery operated saw, that isn't too good.

Well later this afternoon I did some pruning around the house and the pond and woods edges, and I cleared a trail that had been completely closed off with fallen and half down trees and branches.

While doing that I ran across a whole lot of old barbed wire and uncovered an old barbed wire fence, so I came back to the house for wire cutters and managed to cut down and roll up a couple hundred feet of old rusty barbed wire and get it in the dumpster before tomorrow's pick up. (then put our garbage out).

After a bit of a rest I went back outside and began working on the ash tree that we had cut down last week. They really did a lousy job on cutting up the firewood, honestly, would you believe that half of the cuts they made to cut up the firewood were only half way through the wood !!! sheesh.... anyway I got through one battery and it was getting dark so time to come in. Was very pleased with what I got done. Tomorrow is to be a warm and dry day so I'll be back out working on the firewood tomorrow.

Someone suggested that with the huge snag in the back that we throw a rope with a hook around it and pull it down with the tractor, talked it over with Ron and guess that is probably what we'll do..good idea.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Food forest gardens, fruit tree updates...

Well it is still early Spring here in Michigan and most of our perennials are either still asleep underground, or are just peeking through. The annual vegetables are barely  poking through or if they are tender are waiting inside to be planted out either in the form of seedlings or seeds still in the packets. We can't plant tenders until June here in Northern Michigan.

However I thought I'd update on a few of our trees:

First we LOST 3 pear trees and an apricot tree over the winter. Thankfully the tree companies are replacing the 3 pear trees and the apricot..we also lost an apple but that will not be replaced.

We had 6 pear trees, 3 in the back and 3 by the east deck. The ones by the east deck are still doing well so we will continue around the front of the house with the 3 replacements so they'll be in one continual pollination row so to speak. The 3 by the house are 2 Ayers (the two largest and closest to the greenhouse) and one 5 on 1 Pear tree, which would be the smallest one by the south corner of the deck. The 3 that are being replaced are Buerre Bosc, Red Anjou and Bartlett...they will go around the corner and out front of the house in the beds here, where they'll do better than where they were way out by the forest.

Here are two photos of the pear trees by the deck, the buds all froze in our wierd spring weather.
As you  can see I am redigging and replanting
the area below the pear trees here, the sod had grown OVER the edgeing that was there, so I'm digging out the sod and using it elsewhere..The  slope under the deck was planted with comfrey, checker mallow, daylillies, siberian iris and bearded iris, etc..before the deck was built last year..and I am also dividing the comfrey and putting more around the base of the pear trees. This is another project I'm working on besides the chainsaw, and everything else...sheesh..too busy. One nice thing when the pear trees do bear, we'll be able to stand on the porch and pick them as all the pear trees are dwarfs.

The apricot tree that was damaged arrived earlier and I planted it 20 feet away from the new apricot tree that I bought to pollinate it on the North bank of the pond..woods edge. The replacement was a Sugar Pearls Apricot (standard) and the pollinator is a Harlayne apricot (also standard)..they will frame one of the trail entries into the woods north of the pond.

In front of our house we have a Halls Hardy Almond and a Peach tree planted in the front border, this is where the 3 new dwarf Pears will also go, between the Peach and the Pears on the East side (the new ones will go around the corner to the south side) is a "not so good" photo of the Almond tree, the Peach is hiding behind it and the Pears will be farther behind.

There is also thornless blackberry, woodbine vine, clematis, climbing rose and honeysuckle vines that go over that arbor beyond the almond and peach in the summer but they aren't visible yet. the area round the almond has lychnis, oat grass, roses, tall phlox, carnations, siberian iris and other plants that grow at it's base in the summer. The Peach has siberian iris, roses, lychnis, coreopsis, and others that grow around it..also i put baby comfrey in by each this spring, but they aren't up yet. The Pear trees will have similar plantings around them as well as spireas, forsythias, burning bush, daffodills, more comfrey, etc. These are in my front border gardens.

On the other side of my front door is a Fruit coctail tree..or 5 varieties on one tree (nectarine, plum, peach, apricot, etc.)..The birds love to perch on this tree as it is by my front window so I keep bird feeders nearby. It bloomed for the first time this year but the blossoms froze (still 24 overnight here)..We had some peach trees planted here a few years ago and the grafts died..we removed the roots but obviously didn't get them all as we have gobs of baby peach trees coming up all along the length of this bed on the other side of the lilac bushes..going to let a few grow and see what comes of them before we decide which ones to cut down.
Leaves and buds mostly all froze off but it will sprout some new ones.Under these trees are a lot of roses, including climbing roses and clematis that go up a trellis by our front door. Also there are hibiscus, alberta spruce, lilac, siberia and bearded iris, daylillies, hostas, etc.

Here is a Crabapple that we successfully moved after our housefire, the only fruit tree to survive the is planted near some seedless grapes, privet, daylillies, hostas, siberian iris, roses, and other perennials.

The last photo here is a Mount royal Plum tree that we planted under the ash tree that died and we had will be hard to see in the photo but I'll point it out to is the tree with the white tree guard around the trunk ..

This is one of my food forest beds in the front yard where we cut down the HUGE ash tree. The stump is still in this area and it will be plugged with Shiitake mushroom spawn plugs, there is an arbor with 100 year old grapevines on it (they tend to wrap their way through everything). There is the Mount royal plum with the tree guard around it, it is a baby and hasn't bloomed yet. The other shrubs in this bed include 2 or 3 amur (ginella) Maples, Autumn Olive, honeysuckle bush, Elderberry bush (planted by the birds), a spruce tree, lilacs and roses. There are also lots of perennials in this bed including rudbeckia, siberian iris (you can see them starting to come up), honesty, forget me nots, daffodills, baptisia, daylillies, and many others.

We also have in the front yard 3 other beds, one of them has 2 baby Hickory nut trees among shrubs and perennials and the two others are a mix of evergreens and deciduous trees and perennials. There is a small bed along our fenceline too, and that includes grapes and black currants as well as evergreens, roses and lots of perennials.

Out back in our beds around the house and the drainfield, we have 2 sweet cherry trees (bing) and another one coming (windsor ) as a pollinator, and there is a Richland cherry coming back from a died above the graft root, as well as some small apple trees, lots of shrubs of all kinds and tons of perennials and vines including some seedless grapes over an arbor..and there is another huge apple tree at the far north end of these beds.

Farther north we have a 40 x 45 lattice enclosed bed with 2 sour cherry trees, an ornamental cherry tree, 2 Hansen bush cherries, 3 apple trees (one sweet 16, one Braeburn and one Snow (fameuse).)..This bed also includes rhubarb, asparagus, a Gala apple, kiwi and seedless grape vines over 2 arbors, climbing roses, jerusalem artichokes, onions, chives, walking onions, raspberries 7 kinds, blackberries, 2 sweet chestnut trees, juneberries, service berries, currants, gooseberries, honeyberries, wild american plums, 3 mulberry trees and 6 hazelnut trees..the stumps of the 3 pears that died (letting them grow back from the roots), and lots of other plants including my root crops growing from seeds...

Along the woods edge are the 3 walnuts 2 persimmons and 2 apricot trees and will also include the 2 heartnuts coming this spring yet as well as many others..

On the island are Crimson cherries, aronia, goji berries, and lots of perennials and others..

Still have a lot of plants coming and yet to be planted..a never ending job..but this is enough info for tonight.

Chainsaw trial day 3 (short post)

Well day 3 was pretty simple, Joel knocked around the woodpile with the tractor to loosen up the logs and I cut them, Ron is helping with the moving the stacks with the tractor for me. The first photo was between 1 and 2 pm and the second photo was after both batteries were recharged, the center stack, between 5 and 6 pm..and basically that is all I did today.

So today after lunch I cut all the wood on the tractor bucket, and the wood by the tractor bucket and to the right above......and then I came back later in the evening and cut up the pile in the center of the bottom picture..

I'm not sure how much of a dent I made in the pile. Ron just left to start hauling to the house the wood that I cut up, bless his heart, I'm tired.

Photos after day 2 of chainsaw trial

Ok I went out and snapped some photos, some of what I did and some of what I'm wondering if i DARE do?? May need some instruction from you smart woodcutters out there.

The first few photos are just of some clean up of the aspen that I cut up day ONE and then on to the large tree I cut up that fell over my trail to the apple tree.

not sure IF I can use aspen in my new wood furnace or not, not likely, but it will make good campfire wood....
On the left of the trail and right of the trail is what is left of the trees that fell across my trail to the apple tree in the woods. I'm not sure what kind of wood this is so I'm not sure if it can be used as firewood, but as you can see it isn't totally rotten so maybe? This apple tree is a self seeded apple I found a few years ago, evidently grown from deer apples we threw out many years ago, not sure what kind of apples yet. It is starting to bloom so maybe we'll find out this year. I pruned off one branch I could reach that was a mess and there are a couple dead branches that should come down, but I'm on 5'2" so I can't reach them, maybe I'll get some help. I cut down a a wild cherry that was growing up through it and there are a couple other wild cherries that are nearly dead that should come down, and a whole bunch of dead ash and aspen.
You can see a pile of cherry wood from a tree I cut down and you can see 2 small cherry trees to the right of the apple that really need to come down, there are also a couple dead ash and aspens that will come down too, I sitll have to cut up the branches of the apple and cherry and pile those..this trail circles around the apple tree from the right and toward where I'm standing and then joins our neighbors trails through their woods. Hope to clean out enough to get more sun to the apple tree. Here it is still spring and most of our herbaceous perennials are still sleeping.

Now here is where I could use some advice from those of you how know how to cut down trees. This mess is the bane of my existance. First the aspen tree broke off in a couple of directions..It was OK as it was fairly secure in it's position, not falling down yet. It was right over my trail like an arbor, didn't mind much as I was fairly sure it wasn't going to fall on me, however. Feb 29 in our snowstorm this dead ash tree decided to take a dive..first it landed nearly upright on some other trees, but then last weekend we had 2 wind storms and it came down on the aspen tree that was dead, and it has partially crashed through the branch that it is leaning on, dead branch of aspen is splintered badly and fairly sure it will fall ..hopefully not on someone, and it is over my trail..SO what do I do, leave it and wait for it to fall? Try to cut it down and likely have it fall on me???? advice please....

On the left it really doesn't show how large this is, but that ash trunk near the photo is taller than I am, and the tree is still partially attached at the top. It is precariously leaning on the broken aspen tree, that now is more broken and nearly ready to break off  allowing the tree to fall to the ground (I hope) ..Honestly I hate leaving it like this to fall and maybe hurt someone, but both trees are very large and high up to try to reach, and I don't know how to go about taking them down..thought about trying to cut the TRUNK of the ash tree (left photo) but didn't know if the top part would maybe push my way and I'd get hit??
I have a lot of trees that look similar to this one, where the tops have broken off and left a stub, and then the buds or branches near the top took off and are still growing. UGLY, but they do offer snags for woodpeckers and other critters. My dilemna is, do I leave them for the woodpeckers or do I remove them? Probably 50 of them in the woods so I would say probably a good Idea to remove the worst of them and leave the more "healthy??" ones up.
Aspens have a very short life, esp when they have been injured, so I wonder if maybe just leaving a few woodpecker trees and removing the majority of them might not be a bad when an aspen is cut down it sends up a lot of shoots from the roots left in the ground, sometimes 20 or 30 feet away from the mother tree. They actually say that an aspen forest is really all one tree, all connected by the roots to the original mother tree...probably true.

We have a LOT of baby maple trees growing, and a lot of baby cherry, some baby oaks and of course lots of baby aspens, so we really don't NEED to have a lot of half dead snags other than for the wildlife.

Well here are a few photos of our trails thru the woods, as you can see some that we were not able to access cause the trees were down are going to need some mowing to clear off raspberry and other baby sprouts that are attempting to take over the trails. I bought some shiitake mushroom plugs and will innoculate some lots and "Plant" them back here along the trails so we can access to harvest the mushrooms when they grow. I have also just finished planting some hosta, lady's mantle, filipendula and aruncus goatsbeard back along some of these trails, and one of the foot trails (too narrow for the zero turn mower) I've also planted some foxgloves, hollyhocks, bluebells, solomons seal, barberry, vinca, violets, and other perennials and put in seeds. Someday I would like to get these trails nice enough for disabled people to use.

I also have planted at the edge of the woodland a black walnut, carpathian walnut, butternut, 2 american persimmons, a sugar pearls apricot, harlayne apricot, service berries, roses, and a lot of perennial flowers, and I have 2 heartnut trees that will go at the opening of this trail here shown at the right......

Well enough photos for today, gotta go get that chainisaw busy.

Day 2 of chainsaw trial (Oregon PowerNow)

Well yesterday was day 2 of the trial of the Oregon PowerNow 40 V chainsaw..and I was pretty busy. After the frost melted off, although no sun and some wind and cold, I went out and started cutting pole logs that were waiting to be cut for firewood. Cut and stacked about 10 of those, they were fairly large logs, and then I recharged the battery and broke for lunch.

After lunch I went way back into our woods (about 300 feet from the house) to where I had a trail up to a self seeded apple tree in the woods (which is in bloom) and a year and a half ago a very very large tree had fallen across my trail and I hadn't been able to move it or cut it up so there it lay, blocking my trail and my access to the apple tree.

Well I hit the powersharp and sharpened the chain, and then began to cut up the big old tree. After several cuts, where the saw did bind in between the logs a couple times, the chain quit going around so I had to walk back up to the house and take it apart. This also happened once on day one with the pole lumber, which was also large. Well it took quite a while to figure out what the problem was, there was debris in the NOSE of the bar of the saw, that was preventing the chain from engaging, so that cleaned out and the saw was ready to use. In the meantime mail had arrived with trees for me to plant and I had some other perennials so I planted those and piled some of the wood cuts and branches North of the pond in the woods edge. Around 5 PM I went out to resume cutting on that huge tree back by the apple tree, and the saw cut like a charm.

I managed to get that huge tree cut up enough to clear the trail. Then I worked on picking up other downed trees and branches for a while gaining better access to the trail and removing hazards to the mower which I use to keep my trails clear (zero turn timecutter).

Then I proceeded to cut down some cherry and aspen trees that were either dying or were damaging the apple tree, and cut them up into firewood lengths and moved the brush. Then I cut down a few more dying or dead trees and removed them from the clearing under the apple. Heading back to the house as it was getting cold and nearly dark I pruned  some overhanging branches off above my trail, cut down two more dead trees and cut up part of a windfall that was laying across the top of some baby wild cherries, and then the battery went dead so I went back to the house to clean the saw and rest. Boy was I tired, a bit ashamed to admit this but I was in bed by 8:30 and slept until nearly 7 am !!! OK that was quite a two day work out for a 60 year old lady.

Didn't take any photos yesterday but hope to get some snapped today while I'm out there..will update later.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Chainsaw Trial and Emerald Ash borer, etc.

Yesterday an Oregon PowerNow 40 Volt Chainsaw arrived at our house for me use as a trial. It was raining so I had to wait until this morning to give it a try. After reading the manual and speaking with the dealer, I felt confident in giving it a go. (I have used a smaller battery operated chainsaw in the past..Ryobi).

Here is a photo of the chainsaw. Pretty huh. It has the Powersharp built right in so you just move a lever and run it and it sharpens Ok so I needed to get busy as I only have a couple of weeks trial of the saw and a lot to do. Here is a photo of the first tree that I tackled around 10:30 this morning.
this was an ash tree that was killed by the Emerald Ash borer, behind our house . The next one is a part of a Catalpa tree that died, not sure what keeps killing parts of the Catalpa, will have to investigate that farther.

Hoping to save the rest of the catalpa tree. Oh, that shed behind the Catalpa tree was framed in with  7.5 ' pallets..a good recycle project.
We have had a lot of wind and snow damage in our woods, so the next several shots are of trees that had the tops blown out of them in the woods and they had to be cut down (bottom parts) and tops cut up.

After working on these back here I had gone through nearly two batteries, I went up by the house and started taking down a larger ash tree that was killed by  the Emerald Ash borer and the second battery died, so I stopped and took a break while the batteries charged.

This is how far I got before I had to wait for batteries to charge, really quite a bit done (I also needed a break, guess this was about 2 hours of work to this point).

cutting this ash tree up above used up another battery, here is a close up of what the Emerald Ash borer does to a tree (from just above the base).

they tunnel in the cambium layer just under the bark destroying the tree's ability to take up nutrients. Saw one of the beetles while cutting up this tree, they are MUCH smaller than I realized that they are, not a whole lot bigger than a mosquito, online photos really don't do them justice.

Well so far I'm very very pleased with the saw. It works very well, cuts like butter, lightweight, very easy to operate, even my husband who has a lot of disabilties came out and made a few cuts and said it was a very nice saw. The dealer said that cutting through larger wood like I was doing would go through batteries faster than the smaller wood I got about the number of cuts that I expected. All the wood in the above photos were cut on 3 battery charges.

I am 60 years old and have polyperepherial neuropathy in my hands (and feet,etc.) and arthritis, and I had NO PROBLEM with the saw, and I'm not sore or really tired although did appreciate the rest while the battery was charging. I have had problems in the past with my back and have a replacement hip, but using the saw presented no problems in those areas. I highly recommend it.

Well seeing as how I have the saw for a couple of weeks is what I'm facing that needs to be done:
First, back in the closest part of the woods near our house are a lot of snow and windfall trees as well as trees down cause of insect damage and more dying ash trees.

2 dead trees and one dying from the bottom, I do however leave several dead trees standing for the woodpeckers and other critters that use them for food and nests, but most of the standing ones I'll be removing are dangerous trees that will fall either across trails or could damage other trees or property when they do eventually fall down. Many are also near houses, fences, driveways and roads.
obvious damage to 2 trees

some of the small ash trees LOOK like they would survive, like these..until you look closely at the bark..

then there are the evergreens, some knocked down or branches knocked off of them...
wish I could somehow tie it back up as it isn't broken, but it also won't survive like this. Some other evergreens have something killing them, this one is dying at the bottom and the one next to it has completely died at the top..both have to come down and both are full grown white pines.

Here is another large dead ash tree that has to come down.

and then there are the piles of logs that have to be cut up for firewood (we heat with wood here).

OK, I guess I've downloaded enough pictures for one day, one battery has completed it's charge and the other one just went on so I guess that means it is time for me to get back out there and keep that saw busy........

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Before, during and after taking down Ash Tree

Well the Emerald Ash borer got the best of our huge ash tree out are two before pictures taken this morning.
This tree was between our house, garage and driveway. As you can see it truly dwarfs our house. Truck and crane arrived just before 2:30 pm today.

They got to work immediately taking down the large ash tree.

This guy here would swing on the end of the crane up to the tree, lop of a few branches and then attach a strap around the larger parts of the tree, partway up. Then he would rapel down the tree on a rope and tie himself off to a lower part of the tree, unhook the chainsaw from his belt hook and cut off the part that he had attached to the end of the crane (removing his rope first). The crane would then take the large sections of the tree and lay them down, cut them up, etc. In the meantime he would swing back up from the end of the crane and repeat the process on the next branches.
You can see here a large section that has been cut away from the tree being lowered to the ground.
He flies thru the air with the greatest of need for a county fair here.

And the trunk comes down in two pieces, and it is all over but the clean up....
Wow what an empty place where that huge tree was (remember above before photos).

Well if you are in Michigan and need a tree taken down, I recommend Joe's Tree Service from Cadillac.