Note: I keep trying to take pictures on our camera and every time I get a message that there is insufficient space on the memory card. So, in an act of frustration I deleted every photo on the card. I thought I had copied the existing photos onto our computer. I hadn't. There were lovely photos to accompany this post to show that the branch really was quite large and the tools I used really were not meant for cutting wood. You'll have to take my word for it, because as much as this experience connected me to my rugged Montana roots and made me feel like a lumberjack, I will not be repeating this if I can help it. Next time I may take my own advice and borrow a chainsaw.
About a week ago we had a fairly intense storm come through. Claude and I heard the thunder and rain one night and didn't think much of it. It's summer. There are storms like this often enough.
The following morning, our early riser (Joshua), ran into our bedroom shouting, "The storm last night blew a huge tree branch into our yard!"
Being one prone to exaggeration and drama, we didn't think much of it. So, when he insisted we come out to see it, we were pretty surprised to find this in our back yard.
[Insert photo of REALLY big tree branch here]
Yes, half of our neighbor's dead tree fell into our yard. There wasn't much to do about it right then and there, so we assumed that we would just take care of it when Claude was feeling better from his surgery. I suggested we ask a few friends if they might have a chainsaw we could borrow. This was a suggestion that I really should have followed, but didn't. Oh, well...
Fast forward about a week and I was ready to deal with this thing. I needed to mow the back yard and the branches sticking out in my way absolutely had to go. That day. It really couldn't wait.
So, I started breaking off twigs and small branches. That lead to realizing that if I started taking off some I might as well cut a few of the bigger limbs off.
I went in search of some tools and found this.
[Insert photo of hacksaw here]
I thought it would do the trick, so I started sawing. And sawing. And sawing. For at least two hours, and I'm not even making that up.
Then I ran into some thick branches that I just couldn't hack (pun intended), so I went back to the garage to find something else that might work.
This is what I found.
[Insert photo of axe here]
In my ignorance I was calling it a pick axe. Apparently it is called a pick mattock, made for hoeing. Yes, it is designed for the ground. No, it is not meant for chopping wood. It is not sharp. I used it anyway. The tree had to go.
So, I began chopping and chopping and chopping. I chopped for at least two hours, and I'm not making that up either.
I developed a rhythm of 30 swings with the "axe", take a breather, repeat 4 times. Then I would get the saw out and saw 100 times. Then it was back to the "axe" and so forth, until I had successfully cut through 3 very thick branches.
Then my work was done. I had reduced the half-tree to this pile of twigs and branches.
[Insert picture of giant stick pile here]
I had sweated through three different shirts, drank four 32-ounce bottles of water, and acquired a good many ant bites. Now I had to move the tree carnage into a neat pile so that I could mow. Remember, I was doing this so that I could mow.
5:00pm, approximately 6 1/2 hours after I had begun - of course, I did take breaks because children were in the house and needed me, but still, my time working on the tree was about 5 hours at this point. Now, enter the neighbor.
"I'm so sorry about that tree. I saw that it went down so I tried to reach over the fence and pull it back, but it was too heavy," he explained apologetically.
"Yes, I can imagine you wouldn't be able to lift it. It is very heavy," I replied. I would know, I just dragged half of the half about a quarter of the length of our yard.
"I thought of trying to do something about it, but both of my chainsaws are broken," he continued.
"Yes, that could be a problem. I just did this with a hacksaw," I'm not sure if he saw the "axe" and the saw on the ground, but they were there in all their glory.
And so he continued to tell me his name and all about his teenage daughter who is learning how to drive and how concerned he is about her having an accident. When he had successfully changed the subject he offered for me to throw some of the debris into his yard so that he could at least help throw it away. I didn't think that would be necessary, and so he left with a promise to take down the other half of the tree, which was hanging into our yard, and off of which I had already cut the biggest, lowest hanging branch earlier that afternoon.
He cut his part of the tree down on Saturday. I saw him working out there and heard his chainsaw. It seemed to take him about 15 minutes.
But he missed out on a really good, total body workout. And I do mean really good. My little fitness app on the iPad gave this update Tuesday night: "Rebecca burned 1,268 calories doing 155 minutes of cardio exercises, including 'chopping wood'". I think it could have been a higher calorie burn, since I only recorded two hours of work on the tree and just over 30 minutes of mowing. You better believe I enjoyed a big bowl of ice cream that evening!
As I told this story to my Bible study later in the week one person said, "Hey, we have a chainsaw you could've borrowed." My sore abs ached as I laughed.