This love affair of mine has been going on a couple months now, ever since early February when I was sawing black locust for heating our greenhouses, and I must say it is still going strong. For you readers to understand this love affair you must know a little about our saws and the wood we are sawing.
Last year, while embarking on our endeavor to harvest trees to build the vacation cabin rental, we purchased a STIHL 441 model with a 20 inch bar, with much more power than our 026 model and capable of felling trees up to 36 inches in diameter. It could probably fell a larger tree, but we have limitations with our sawmill in milling a tree any larger than 36 inches in diameter, so we haven’t yet tried felling a tree any larger than that. When we first bought this saw, Carl provided training for me in using this saw and one instruction that he emphasized very strongly was, “You must be very careful using this saw because it has a lot of kick back.” Since that time I have been very nervous about using the new saw so we nicknamed our 026 model the she-saw and the 441 the he-saw. The saws are named such because I use mostly use the 026 while Carl uses the 441.
Black locust is a very dense and among the highest BTU’s of all wood that we have growing here on our farm so we like to keep a stockpile of it in our wood shed for heating our greenhouses. Someday we hope to establish a wood plot, planting and growing trees specifically for firewood, and black locust will definitely be one of those trees included in our woodlot. Because locust is so dense, sawing locust can dull your chain rather quickly, so almost every day after sawing locust trees Carl must sharpen our chains. I haven’t yet acquired the skill of sharpening chains which is why it always falls on Carl’s “To Do” list. Another astounding fact about black locust is that it has a stronger psi compression rating than concrete with black locust having a maximum crushing strength rated at 10,800 PSI compared to concrete (the strongest on market) at 7,500. Also, the modulus of rupture which is the fiber strength at rupture, black locust is far superior at 19,400 PSI while concrete is 4,000 PSI. We are thankful that we constructed our equipment barn using black locust posts because it is supporting a top floor!
My love affair with the he-saw started early February while Carl, Danielle and Justin were working on the new greenhouse pad and I was sawing locust using the she-saw. The she-saw blade was so dull, and I didn’t want to bother Carl with sharpening the chain, mostly because he was instructing Danielle and Justin in squaring the greenhouse pad and setting the corner posts. So that day I started using the he-saw and was amazed at how much wood I had sawn in such a short period of time. The he-saw has so much power allowing me to quickly cut through dense locust trees with the chain staying relatively sharp all day. I have noticed that while using the he-saw, I am less likely to get my chain stuck while cutting, mostly because the he-saw cuts so quickly I am nearly done sawing through the tree before it can bind from the pressure of the tree.
A little off topic but worth mentioning is that almost daily it seems as though there is always an interesting article written about the mass production of our food. This week I would recommend this article if you eat agri-business meat! The article is very scary and just another reason we grow and raise our own food.
Carl snapped a video of me using the he-saw to cut a black walnut tree that we took down because it is along our new fence line. It is so sad looking outside our trailer windows and not seeing the BEAUTIFUL Black Walnut tree. Gwen Clemens suggested we have Jack Dalton turn this walnut into salad bowls. So that is our plan so that this tree is always a part of our lives!
Our stockpile of locust, that Julie cut using the he-saw, and ready for splitting. This wood will be used to heat our greenhouses come winter. That is, if winter comes again.
What has the farm crew been doing these past couple weeks? Danielle and Justin have been potting up a lot of plants for our upcoming markets and seeding additional successions of greens that we hope to be selling into early summer. The entire farm crew has been transplanting additional succession of greens, planting potatoes, transplanting tomatoes for our greenhouse crop, replacing cucumber plants because a few died off from what we think was phytophthora, weed eating between strawberry beds, preparing our fields for transplanting those seeds that have yet to germinate in the greenhouse and those that are nearly ready for transplanting to the field. Carl and Julie have been clearing the fence line for the new deer fence and are proud that the fence line is completely cleared! We hope to have Alvin take his bulldozer and grade our fence line this next week because the perimeter of our field is very uneven after pulling trees out that the deer would certainly find a way in. We just finished our annual “deep cleaning” of our walk-in coolers where we pressure wash the entire cooler and shelves then scrub the walls, ceiling and shelves. In addition, we pressure wash and sanitize our harvest bins (which is done throughout the season). The entire farm crew is very busy and I am certain to have missed a few jobs that we all have done!
We covered strawberries Friday afternoon. Let’s hope the blossoms and fruit set survived the frost early Saturday morning. We are expected to have another deep frost Tuesday night so say your prayers!
We re-covered our little baby seedlings of beets, lettuce and spinach. Mostly these crops tolerate a frost but not just after sprouting which is why we covered them. We uncovered them Wednesday because the temperatures were never dropping below 50 at night only to recover them on Friday with a freeze warning in the forecast.
We are thankful that the Swiss Chard, transplanted last Tuesday, was uncovered yet survived the frost. We love this “Bright Lights” variety.
Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) growing in our forest. Don't worry Townes... I did not eat it and It is still growing!
The end of our winter kale crop that is going to seed. We are thankful for this kale as it fed us all winter long!
The end of our winter collard green crop that is going to seed. We are thankful that our collard green crop fed us all winter long!
Beautiful scenery while trying to find morel mushrooms. THANK goodness Carol Dreiling cultivates mushrooms or I would never be eating tasty mushrooms because I only found a few morels!