I live alone with my preschooler in an off-grid cabin on a remote island off the coast of British Columbia.
"Don't wish me happiness I don't expect to be happy all the time....It's gotten beyond that somehow. Wish me courage and strength and a sense of humor. I will need them all." Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Tuesday, 12 May 2015
A lady's axe and some history on a stump
I've had the Fiskars x15 axe for about a year now. I use it regularly to split my kindling and it works very well. Not only is it lightweight and vibration-free but it holds a sharp edge longer than my splitting maul. I gave the Fiskars a trial run at something a little more challenging when I decided to fall a tree with it. A western hemlock was growing on the top of a 8-10 foot high Douglas fir stump. This stump is a piece of history. Sometime between 1888 and 1893 the section of island where I live was logged to make pasture for 300 sheep. The logging was done the old way by hand and trees were felled with axes. They began by making two notches on opposite sides of the tree. A springboard is a narrow board about 3 feet long with an iron toe which was placed into the notch. The picture above is of one of these notches on this particular stump. Most of the stumps in the area have either been demolished through further land development/clearing or the stump has disintegrated to the point where the notches are gone. Two fallers wearing caulk boots each stood on a board opposite each other and using razor sharp, double bitted axes together made an undercut in the tree. The undercut is a wedge shaped piece cut out of the tree which determines which direction the tree is going to fall. Finally, they made the back cut which is made on the side opposite the direction of fall. They made this cut by pulling a large crosscut saw together back and forth until the tree fell. This is one of two trees I mentioned in an earlier post which is blocking sunlight in a large corner of the garden. There are two other trees as well but because my daughter's swing is attached to them they will stay for now. Before I began I waited until the little angel was fast asleep and I replaced my long skirt for a pair of pants. Instead of a springboard I used a ladder to get to the top of the stump where I stood and chopped the tree down. Although falling a tree with an axe is physically demanding the slowness allows me to methodically note slight variations in the tree as it shifts before plummeting downward. I'm pleased with all the light in the garden and the Fiskars x15 is a good all around axe to have around. I'm going to intentionally disconnect and I will post again after the weekend.