June 24, 2023

Of Fallen Trees and What We Do With Them

In my last blog post, I mentioned that a tree had fallen on our fence.

Uprooted pine tree.

It's a pine tree that was growing on the other side of the pasture fence. When it uprooted and fell, it got caught in the branches of an oak tree, so it didn't hit the ground. Being precarious and therefore dangerous, it had to come down. 

This is actually a fairly common occurrence here. It's always pine trees because pines are pioneer trees; they grow quickly in untended open areas, then gradually give way to young hardwoods. This is called succession. They grow tall and spindly competing for the sun. Their fast growth makes them weaker and subject to uprooting when the ground is too saturated or breaking mid-trunk when the winds are high. Fortunately, no buildings or critters have ever been hit (including us!) although we've lost a lot of fences from this happening. These trees were the motivating factor in buying Dan's portable sawmill and have provided most of the lumber we've used for building projects.

Dan first checked to make sure it was safe, and then let the billy boys into the pasture to eat the oak leaves.

Piedy and Magnus on their way to check it out.

Jonah got there first. The little building you see in the
background is our original buck barn, Fort William.

Most people typically graze goats on pasture, but their preferred food is browse, i.e., leaves and tender twigs from trees and shrubs. So, the boys happily did the job of stripping leaves.

When they were done, Dan cut the tree down, trimmed off the branches, and dragged the log to the sawmill.

Bonus points if you can spot the two cats.

The project we have in mind is the second pergola to shade the front bedroom windows on the setting sun side of the house. 

These windows get the hot afternoon summer sun.

Having a project in mind meant Dan could cut the log to the specs he wanted.

This project isn't imminent, but the cutting needs to be done to give the lumber time to cure. It will be ready when we get to it.

Rough cut & curing. Sticks (stickers) between
the pieces allow air to flow so it will dry evenly.

The branches were run through our chipper for the wood chip pile.

The pine wood chips

When we're done, all of the tree has been utilized. 

Did you spot the two cats in the above photo? In case you didn't, here they are.




tpals said...

The whole family working together to clean up. :)

daisy g said...

Having your own source for lumber and wood chips is quite a bonus!

Leigh said...

Tpals, yes! It's a great way to have a no-waste system. :)

Daisy, it's a tremendous bonus, and I'm so thankful we were able to invest in the equipment when we did. They've paid themselves off numerous times over!

Pioneer Woman at Heart said...

We had the same thing happen, and the pine tree is still tilted on top of another pine tree. We just haven't had time to cut it down, but we have no use for the fallen tree. No sawmill materials here, and no one wants pine around here. Not sure what we'll do with it yet, but it is a danger to mowing out there. We actually have two down. One is all the way down, and just has to be cut up and removed.

DFW said...

You can't beat free lumber! Minus the labor involved to make it.

Boud said...

So satisfying to be able to use all the downed tree. And you didn't have to sacrifice a tree, since it downed itself. The sawmill was definitely an investment.

Leigh said...

Kristina, that's what prompted us to get the sawmill, but then, we had a lot of pine trees, so even find a bargain on craigslist justified the cost. Like you say, no one is interested in pine.

Deb, considering he's got the time, the labor is a small price to pay. Especially considering the price of lumber nowadays!

Leigh said...

Boud, I confess, some of them we've taken down. When they get that mature, it's only a matter of time before they go on their own. We figure we might as well give the tree extended purpose through a useful project. :)

Nina said...

When we bought our place, the previous owners had used a skinny rope and a nylon windbreaker jacket to tie a leaning pine to another tree, to keep it from falling down. That tree was the reason for our first chainsaw purchase! It was just one of many half-arsed repairs we found around here.
It's nice though that you can make lumber for future projects. We just get firewood from our downed trees.. Still good, but lumber prices are still crazy here. A wood chipper is on the future needs list. It would be nice to have our own mulch since I end up using so much of it. It was lovely to see how huge your pile is!

Ed said...

I’ve often wished I could better utilize the downed trees on my property but I lack the flat space needed to process and cure wood.

Leigh said...

Nina, skinny rope and a nylon windbreaker? Whoa!

Harvesting your own firewood is wonderful! The sawmill is worth it for anyone who has a lot of building projects. A wood chipper is a fantastic investment for anyone who uses woodchips.

Ed, level is important! Dan's had a heck of a time getting evenly cut beams and boards. But I think using any part of one's trees is helpful.

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

I had no idea goats ate oak leaves. The more you know.

Leigh said...

Not only oak, but sweet gum, pecan, ligustrum, rose, blackberry, pine, cedar, magnolia, redbud, sumac, maple, etc. (they aren't supposed to eat red maple). Whenever I say, "let's go to the woods," they all run down to the gate and once we're there, they eat like crazy. They'd much rather browse in the woods than graze the pasture!

Annie in Ocala said...

Beautiful! I have envy! Something about milling and wood working I'm attracted to... Reminds me of my youth. I've gotten permission to temporarily fence any of my neighbors 6 acres of dense woods and browse my goats. I haven't had much time for them to be out there due to work and the hard rain, but the one and a half days they were out there they loved it and did an amazing job!

Nancy In Boise said...

Looks like a buffett for the goats! Lumber is so expensive, great to have your own!

Leigh said...

Nancy, very true on both counts!

Seeking Serenity said...

you bet i saw Meowy first then Katy but wow that handsome turkey is a looker! My dad used a contraption for his chainsaw to cut boards and they weighed SO much he stopped. We got a lovely indoor bench though

Leigh said...

SS, I knew you would! The turkey is sort of the yard supervisor. He's always observing and inspecting everything.

You must mean a chain saw mill. Pretty handy if there are trees to be cut, but it doesn't do well for thin boards. Have to admire a homemade bench though. :)