Construction Journal Entry Week of 5/6/07

5/8-10/07 I went up to the property for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

I got a late start but I wasn't sure I would be able to go. I learned late in the morning that my truck was ready to go. I took a cab to Lynnwood, got the truck, came back home, packed up and left. I arrived at the property at 4:50.

On the way, I stopped at Mike Tutinos and showed him and Mike Jr. my new truck. I also fed Bert and Ernie a few dog biscuits while I was there.

When I moved into the trailer, I was happy to discover that my phone still worked even after being dropped in the creek. The battery showed a low charge so I wasn't sure if it had been damaged or not. Time will tell.

I was also happy to see that the water was running well. That means that the kink in the pipe did not open up. I de-winterized the trailer and used the torch to fire up the water heater. Then I went up to the cabin and worked on the front stairs to make it more usable now that the snow was gone. I moved the temporary rope handrail from the Grid G3 PSL to the newel post so that you can go up the stairs to the right of the PSL. I also built up some temporary rock steps so that you can more easily step up onto the first log step.

I went up to the loft to inspect the latest coat of varnish and I was really happy with how it looks. I haven't decided yet whether to continue varnishing, or switch modes altogether and leave the rest of the varnishing until next winter.

On Wednesday morning, I took a vise-grip up to the water line and worked on the kink in the pipe. I gently squeezed it in order to open it up a little more and to determine how close it was to failure. I didn't open it up much but I concluded that I could safely leave it that way for quite a while. It is open enough to allow plenty of water flow so there is really no urgency. I did some more work on the makeshift rock steps to make them a little better.

Then I decided that since the weather was so good, and the bugs weren't out in force yet, and since all the leaves weren't out yet, it would be a good time to scout for timber that I will need to build the back deck and staircase. I inspected the logs I had stashed in various places and found quite a few usable ones, but no long ones. So I went walking in the woods looking for good timber either on the ground or still on the stump.

After cruising around for a while, I decided to take down a super nice Douglas Fir that was right on the boundary of the root rot die-off. The tree was healthy now but was right in line to die soon. It was also standing right next to a ponderosa pine of about the same size so it probably should be thinned out anyway.

I got the 20 foot extension ladder a cable and a shackle and fastened the cable to the tree as high off the ground as I could reach from the ladder. Then I returned the ladder, and got another shackle, a long cable, a block, a come-along and two short chains. I used these to rig a cable line from the tree to the block chained to a tree in the direction I wanted the tree to fall, and then back to the stump of the tree I was going to fall.

Looking up at the sky, I could see that there was only one reasonable direction for the tree to fall without running into other trees. I had my cable rigged to pull the tree in that direction. Then I got the .032 chainsaw out and checked to see that it was fueled up. I started it to make sure it would run OK. It started fine. As soon as I revved it up a few times, I noticed that a couple of gray jays came by. I was happy to see them because it has been a long time since I had. I wondered if it wasn't the noise of the chainsaw that attracted them. Anyway, I fed them some peanuts and went in for lunch.

After lunch and a nap, I took the saw into the woods and falled the tree. I made a mistake and accidentally cut through the hinge. This caused the tree to fall 90 degrees from the direction I wanted it to fall but, of course, there was nothing I could do at that point except get out of the way. As it turned out, the tree found a perfect path down between the trees without hitting any of them and knocking very few branches off. The cable probably determined the path it took since there wasn't much slack in it after the fall. I was lucky. I don't think I should do much more, if any, tree falling.

Instead of falling to the west, like I wanted, the tree fell to the south right down the hill. The top of it ended up only a few feet from the road. And, it happened to fall on the game trail which is about the only way up that hill that doesn't have cliffs. It really wasn't a bad place for the tree to fall except that the logs would have to be skidded uphill.

I measured the building to see what lengths of logs and timber I would need for the porch and found that the deck would be 14 feet long. I planned to rip the logs in half to make the decking so I decided to buck the log into 15 foot lengths. I measured the tree and found it to be 85 feet long. The top had been broken off so it was still about 6 or 7 inches in diameter at the top. The butt was 14 inches where I cut it and for most of the length, the trunk was about 10 inches in diameter. I counted the rings and learned that the tree was 79 years old. It was pretty straight, except the first 10 feet or so, and no limbs for the fist 30 or 40 feet. It was beautiful. I was thinking that if I had a hundred trees like this, I could build a really nice house.

I limbed the tree with the chainsaw, which was fast and easy because there were so few branches. Then I bucked it into five 15-foot logs. I peeled the top three sections with a spud. These were the ones at the bottom of the hill.

Using the stump as an anchor, I used the come-along and a couple chains to skid the second and third sections up alongside the butt section. It was fun to the point of exhilaration to be logging again. The problem was that my body was not used to the work. I would spud until my shoulders and hands were so fatigued I couldn't continue. Then I would switch to skidding, which involved walking up and down the hill as I rigged, re-rigged, and worked the logs loose as I pulled them up the hill, and it involved cranking on the come-along.

At 6:30 I realized that my body was telling me that if I didn't quit, I was going to hurt myself, so I quit for the day happy with what I had done. I had some great looking logs on the ground. Before I went in, I took some pictures of the logs and me doing some peeling and skidding.

On Thursday morning the weather was beautiful again. I skidded all the logs up to near the stump and I spudded the bark off all of them. The two gray jays came back early in the morning and they came back repeatedly all morning. They gave me reasons to take breaks so maybe they prevented an injury. Who knows? Anyway, it was good to see them again. In spite of it being a fairly short work week, I was happy with what I got done. I now have all the timber I need to build the back deck and staircase. I left for home at 1:40 feeling very good.

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