A winch, a snatch block, and a chainsaw walk into a bar…

Not every day on a farm is fuzzy new born calves and slopping the hogs. There is a lot that goes into maintaining a property this size, even more if you are actively farming it. Things like maintaining roads, fixing barns, cleaning behind hogs and prepping hog pens for winter all have to happen routinely.

Another thing that happens with hogs is wherever we put them in the woods, they trees die within a few years. This isn’t a problem as we have 1/2 of our farm covered in trees and we have areas we’d actually like to clear. So a “simple” solution is to put hogs in the area where you don’t want trees any longer. Once the trees die, you move the hogs, cut down the trees, and split them for firewood. Since we heat with wood in both the house and the shop, we always have a need for more firewood.

Of course, cutting down trees isn’t always a simple process. Sometimes the tree is a bit too close to the power lines. Or sometimes instead of leaning towards the wide open pasture which is RIGHT THERE, it is leaning towards the barn you’d really like to keep in one piece. When the trees are moderately straight forward, Miguel fells them with no muss, no fuss. But when he’s gonna have to explain to the Jefe why there is no power, or we need a new roof, and maybe a new wall on a building, he calls me to cut them down.

Now I’m no logger, but I did work in the logging industry for most of my career. Not logging myself, but selling and maintaining equipment for the loggers. I had a lot of opportunity to attend training put on for the loggers, so I at least have some training.

And I grew up on this very same farm. A farm that about every 7-10 years gets hit by a hurricane. When you live in the middle of the woods, and a hurricane comes through, you learn how to run a chainsaw pretty quickly.

This is some video Miguel took from the truck while winching the trees to make them fall in the direction we wanted. Having a digger derrick on the farm for this kind of work certainly makes things a lot easier, and safer.

Not our digger derrick. Ours is cooler than this one, but I’m too lazy to walk to the barn and take a picture.

We used our huge hydraulic winch and a snatch block to get this huge pine tree to lean away from the barn instead of towards it. Of course we also had to thread the needle between some existing trees, not all of which we missed. But the small trees weren’t the ones we were worried about so no harm, no foul. All the trees that day were ones that were challenging for one reason or another. All were already dead so the danger of falling limbs was also a constant threat.

The last tree to fall in the video above is one that was in a wet area, surrounded by older trees that had fallen around it. It was slippery and a pain. And it was last so I tried to pop it over with wedges instead of using the winch and a chain. After hammering for all I was worth, the tree just sat there laughing at me. Miguel was kind enough to hook up the winch for me while I ran the controls for once. It looks simple, but it is actually pretty technical and mighty dangerous.

Six trees down, about 100 to go. Just another day of farming.

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