2016 April 24: More Work

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I see it’s been a while since I’ve updated this blog, so here are some updates:

Weekly schedule

Lately, my weekly schedule goes something like this:

Monday – Friday:

Take Chris to school, then go to work from 6:30 to 3:30. Check with Julie- see if going out to the property fits in with our schedule – and it usually does, so – drive out to the property. peel whatever logs are out there, or clean up branches and debris from last cut.

Saturday:

Fell new trees.

I’ve cut a total of 8 trees, which is really behind where I wanted to be. I thought I would have all my trees cut by now, but there’s been some issues…

Hauling logs

Hauling logs has been darn near impossible with just the tractor alone.  I fixed the ditch, so it was easier to cross:

 

Before and after:

It took me almost a week to haul one I call “the monster”. It’s the biggest tree I’ve ever cut: 55 feet long, 26″ base, 10″ top, and branches all the way up. It broke my tractor jack (capacity: 7,000 lbs). Progress came to a standstill over this one log. I had to think of a solution- what if I got more like it? Barely being able to move a normal log is not a solution. Not being able to move a large log is complete failure, so I needed a log trailer or something.

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trying to haul this monster with the tractor alone: fail. The tractor lifted up in front, and dug down in the rear. Log: 1, tractor: 0.

I began to scour craigslist for trailers. I needed one that was a maximum of 5 feet wide, as short as possible, and with a capacity of two tons at least. I finally found a military trailer in Hartselle for $175. I called the guy, but he had sold it. Then I found another one in Shelbyville, TN. The guy was nice, asked me what I was using it for. When I told him, he said he either had a trailer that would work, or we could make one. He said he was a house mover by trade. Perfect, because even I know that a house weighs more than a log, so this guy probably had the right solution.

I arrived at his house on a Thursday evening- he had pretty much a junkyard for a yard. He showed me a house moving trailer about two feet wide and one foot long- basically an I-beam with wheels welded underneath.  Capacity: I have no idea- a lot. But he was trying to talk me out of it for some reason by showing me all the other trailers that he thought would work. He finally admitted that he needed the house moving trailer because it was part of a set. He showed me a military trailer- the frame was metal, the bed was metal- every thing on it was metal. It was extremely heavy for its size. The only problem was it was so high off the ground, I wasn’t sure how I would get the log loaded into it. Almost perfect. I loaded it up, paid him, and got on my way.

I took it out to the property the next day, but couldn’t get the log up into it. Saturday, I got out there early. I spent a long time trying to load it, broke my farm jack, got a new farm jack, and finally succeeded in getting the bottom end of the log onto the trailer.

Here’s how I did it:

  1. back the tractor up to the side of the log; about 10 feet from the bottom.
  2. Place tractor jack on opposite side of log, and run a chain underneath the log.
  3. Using the chain as a cradle between the tractor and the jack, slowly jack the log up to about 3 feet off the ground.
  4. Slip (I use that word loosely- it’s more like “shove”) the trailer under the log, and strap the log down.
  5. Now remove the jack and tractor, and hook up the tractor on the front end.
  6. Pull up alongside the peeling area, unhook from the front of the log, and almost reverse the process.
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Not as easy as it looks. This is tractor jack #2.

That monster log is about 95% peeled right now. I’m not sure where it will go on the house- maybe the first layer. But that means I have to find three more, and I’m not sure how I feel about moving more like that one.

6 acres next door sold (almost)

Meanwhile, I’m working there one night about a month ago, and Jerry (the guy we bought the land from) comes over and says I need to stop cutting trees on the property next door because he sold it. Wha???? I was planning on using that entire area for my house logs, and using the trees on my property for the garage. So without the trees next door, we don’t have a house. It was very depressing. The dream of a house made from logs began to look impossible.  I still had the two logs I had cut on the property, and Jerry said to go ahead and take them, but not to cut any more. He said he would talk to the new owner. I asked who it was- he said a guy down the street named Bobby. I decided to talk to the new owner myself.

I drove down to his house- he’s got a large cattle operation and about 80 acres. I guess he’s trying to add to it. Anyway, nice fella, but really wants to leave it up in the air with those trees. He’s afraid there’ll be a mess with the branches and stumps (I promised to clean them up- I want to be a good neighbor), so then he’s not sure where the property lines are, excuse after excuse. He did say he wants to mark the ones he wants cut, but the closing date on the property keeps getting pushed out- Jerry’s wife was in the hospital, Jerry’s knee surgery isn’t recovering as fast as he wants. I guess we shouldn’t hold our breath. On the bright side, I talked to him yesterday, and he has trees on another piece of property on Hobbs Island road that he wants to get rid of. He had a professional logger come get the cedar, but there are some 60 foot pines that he said I could have- but work out with the logger how to get them down in one piece. I went and looked- there are some power lines but it does look possible to get them down. There is a monster tree that’s even bigger than the one I cut, so I don’t think that one is a possibility, but the others maybe- probably about 6 trees. Anyway, I have about a month to decide- the logger only works weekends, so it’ll be a while.

When one door closes…

I got a flat tire on my tractor yesterday- so flat, I didn’t dare move it for fear the tire will come off the rim. None of the neighbors were home, and none of the repair shops had air tanks big enough to fill it. I was afraid I’d have to bring the trailer and take the wheel off- it’s too big to fit in the car. Did I mention my truck engine finally blew up? Got to fix the head gasket or something.

Anyway, I drove through the neighborhood, looking for houses that had shops next to them- and found gold: Shane is married to one of the Maples- the lady’s parents live across the street from our property. They are in their 80’s, so they don’t get out much. Anyway, they took me over to her parent’s and used the compressor in their shed to partially fill my tire. Then I drove it over to their house and finished it off.

But it gets better: Shane’s wife’s family all live around the area. The relative next door told Shane on Friday that he wished he could get rid of some of the trees on his property- there’s about 15 of them he wants gone. And when I told him what I was doing with them- he is really interested in it- asked me all kinds of questions, got excited about the plans. He said he’ll ask around and help me find some trees. The guy rebuilds classic cars for a living- they are super sweet looking rides.

Bottom line: looks like I’ll probably get enough trees right from the neighborhood.

Summary

The garage is on hold for now. I’ll build that once we’re moved in to the house.

Total trees needed: probably 120 or more. Total committed: 58 (40 mine, 18 other neighbors), Potential trees: 45 (10 lady from GA, 35 Bobby). If I get the ones I know about, that’s 108, but that’s thinking very positively.

  • number of trees needed: about 100 (for rafters, posts, who knows)
  • number needed for flooring, tongue & groove roof, joists: who knows- 20?
  • House logs:
    • number needed for walls: about 70
    • number of trees peeled: 6
    • trees on my property: about 40
    • number needed: from somewhere else: 30
      • number from Bobby (maybe 30):
        • from land next door: who knows? It’s possible he’ll say take them all- I mean, it makes sense if you have cows, you need pasture- and pasture doesn’t grow well in the forest, so he needs some of them gone, at least.
        • from Hobbs Island road: 4 (but getting them will be hard)
        • from somewhere else on his main property- who knows? He says he has some.
      • number from other neighbors (18 committed, 10 potential):
        • Jim has 3 I may be able to use
        • Shane says there’s about 15 from his neighbor
        • The owner next to me lives in GA, and has a 30′ strip between our land and Jerry/Bobby’s land. There’s about 10 trees big enough I could use – but I’d have to write her a letter and see.

Just keep cutting, peeling, and moving forward.

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brianhill

Just a regular guy from Utah, now living in Alabama, involved in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

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