Sunday, July 1, 2007

Long Day

A fellow from Texas ordered 50+ peeled aspen sticks a while back. No problem. And all of a sudden it's the first of July. Aspen gets pretty hard to peel about now. It's hit and miss. Some sticks peel like a dream, others you chip away at and get 6 feet done in an hour. The past two days I've peeled sticks from sun up to sun down. And I am tired.

I think I'll be able to finish up by tomorrow. Hopefully one more full day will do the trick. As peeling goes-this has been a very hard job. It's just that time of year. And it's my own fault that I let time get away from me. But in some ways it beats easier jobs I've had. I get to sit outside in the shade under a tree, barefoot. The photo shows the view I face all day. I can see the trumpeter swans out on the lake...hear the riot of birds that live in the forest. Meg-my border collie pup-drops her toy at my feet for me to throw. The young chickens drift by, sure that the pile of peelings I'm sitting on are fruit based nutrition. Sorry chickies. They get mighty disappointed by the curls of bark. But everytime I shift positions they come running to see if I might have a treat.

I feel pretty good about this type of work: The aspen grows like quack grass around here. (in fact, if you observe how it grows, it is the Minnesota version of bamboo-more like grass than like tree-my opinion) Thinning out some of the aspen groves is something that needs to be done anyway. Or it can be harvested where it is crowding in on the driveway or the hay field. Since we are harvesting so close to the farm, we bring the whole young tree home instead of processing it out in the woods. All of the branches with leaves get fed to the sheep. They love this treat. The trunk itself is cut to lengths needed, then peeled. When all that is done, there is a huge pile of bark, some stripped branches in the sheep pens, and some short pieces of small diameter wood that had significant flaws. The bark and the branches go into the fire pit. Every once in a while we light it up and cook something. The larger pieces get piled for this winter's firewood. Every part of every tree we cut down gets used for something. We've even used the bark as chicken coop bedding before. It feels good when my financial endeavors are in harmony with nature to this degree.

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