The Big Tooth Aspen
Cutting a tree down isn't that hard to do.
Sure, getting it to fall where you want can be a bit tricky.
The real knacky part is getting a few thousand pound, 10 foot hardwood logs out of the forest.
Jamie Braid and I don't actually have our own woodlot.
We beg and plead and cajole our neighbours to let us cut a tree we've spotted off their properties. Other times, we're asked to take a tree that is threatening a house or cottage.
Both these situations come with unique complications.
In the latter case - we have to make the tree fall somewhere else than on their house, cottage, shed or dog.
In the former, we need to move a log out of the woods without a proper road or any proper equipment.
Neither of us are athletes, but we do pride ourselves on being knacky.
If there were an Olympic event based upon getting a cord of firewood out on an empty stomach where all you've got for tools is an old chainsaw, a barely road legal truck, a seized come-along, 40 feet of frayed rope and a half pack of smokes and six beer for sustenance, we'd probably get a bronze.
So this is the story of the big tooth aspen we took out of the woods last summer.
It was a blow down and I'd noticed it on one of my walks.
Huge bastard that the two of us couldn't get are ours arms around even if we weren't afraid of having to touch each other's fingers.
Naturally greedy, we stomped in one day, limbed it and cut it into three saw log lengths.
We junked up the limbs for firewood, which was easy enough to get out once we had cleared a narrow little route for the truck.
Then came the inevitable question: How to get the logs out?
We do have a trailer.
It has four wheels of varying sizes and only two tires that hold their air.
Actually, only one tire is good. The other sort of good tire has a leak - so if you want to haul anything to the mill on it you need to bring the air-pig to refill it part way.
But it wouldn't support the weight of one of these logs even if we did it aboard.
We tried hauling on it with Jamie's truck, which had bald tires, but the ground was muddy and we had to pull it up an incline.
My truck had good tires at the time, but still they just spun.
We both have families and limited time for frigging around.
So the Big Tooth Aspen became a project we would give an hour at 6 a.m. on weekday mornings before going to work.
After three unsuccessful mornings we came up with a plan:
Build a skid - we cut down a small maple nearby and built a drag. Then with long branches for prybars rolled it up onto that.
Wait for dry weather - We waited for a week without rain to dry the ground out. We tied both trucks together and then tied them to the skid.
Give'r - We gunned and hauled and dug trenches and got the skid and massive log out onto the road.
We then hauled the skid through a dirt road for 14 km to the sawmill, stopping halfway to cut another maple to replace the worn out runners.
Once there we peeled the bark off the Big Tooth Aspen to get the dust and gravel off so it wouldn't dull the sawyer's blade.
It made decent lumber and I've still got some left in the shed.