Another Work Day at the Farm

During the last trip to the homestead we focused on thinning trees. The largest and healthiest trees were flagged so they would not be cut, the smaller trees and underlying brush were thinned out.

On February 1st and 2nd we focused on cutting tree stumps down to ground level so the heavy equipment can get in there next weekend. This part of the land has been used was an makeshift family trash dump back in the early 1980s. Most of the stuff dumped in this location is scarp metal, tin, hot water heater, cans,,, stuff like that.

Stihl chainsaw on pine tree stump

Now for the rest of the story.

February 1 2013

Started off like any other day. My wife and I got up around 6:30am, got our shower, got dressed and headed out the door. On this Friday I had the day off work. so instead of going to work, I headed to the homestead for another kind of work.

On the way out my wife, my daughter and I stopped by the Shell station at the corner of Hwy 63 and FM 777 in Jasper, Texas. We were thinking about going by the donut shop, but decided to stop by the shell station. The store sells breakfast sandwiches and breakfast biscuits that are freshly made. I got a breakfast sandwich with sausage, egg, cheese. To wash breakfast down I got a low-carb monster energy drink.

One of the things I wanted to do Friday morning was to try and burn a pine tree stump. I had an idea how things were going to go, I just wanted to burn the stump to say I tried.

Something about pine trees a lot of people do not know, the bark of a pine tree is designed to resist fire. The Long Leaf Pine that is native to the southern part of the United States does best when the undergrowth is burned from time to time. Dried pine needles are like gasoline. One small spark will spread to an out of control forest fire within seconds. The fire resistant bark ensures the pine tree does to fall victim to its own shed needles.

Pine tree stump

I arrived at the homestead, picked out a stump, raked the pine needles away from the area, then dug around the stump with a shovel.

The one thing I did not want was for the fire to jump over to the thick bed of dried pine needles nearby. That would have been a disaster as the fire would have quickly spread out of control in just a few seconds.

A small fire was started on a side of the stump.

About an hour later another fire was started on the opposite side from the first fire.

Finally a small fire was started on the top of the stump.

Burning pine tree stump

After 4 hours of burning, the stump showed almost no signs of giving way. The top of the stump was too green to catch on fire, the bark was doing its job keeping the fire at bay.

If I knew pine tree bark is fire resistant, why did I try to burn the side of a stump? I wanted to see what would happen, take pictures and to be able to post on this blog about my experience.

How am I supposed to offer advice on something if I do not have first hand, hands on experience? As the owner of this blog, it is my duty to test stuff and report back my findings. If you want to burn a freshly cut pine tree stump, building a small fire around it is not going to do anything.

A buddy of mine suggested cutting notches on the stump with a chainsaw, cut a hole in the middle of the stump, fill the hole with charcoal, then let the charcoal burn the stump from the inside out. I will try that next and will report the results.

I finally gave up on the stump, broke out the Stihl and started cutting small trees out of a wash out area. As much as I dislike cutting trees, these trees are going to die once the area is backfilled with dirt. If a lot of dirt is piled up around the trunk of a tree, the roots are choked and the tree dies.

Around 2:00 mom and dad showed up with the tractor gaggle on a low-boy and a subway sandwich for me.

Mom, dad and I walked around the property, looked things over and exchanged some ideas. They wanted to know where the chicken yard was going, where the water well was going, and just general stuff.

Loading scrap metal at the homestead

After eating lunch dad and I hooked the other lowboy trailer to my truck. I pulled the trailer over the where the trash pile was at so we could start loading scrap metal.

One of the pieces that needed to be removed was a rather large blower motor with a sheet metal frame. To get the blower motor out of the washed out area, dad backed his truck close enough so we could get a chain through the frame. That Dodge 3/4 ton truck had no problem pulling the industrial sized fan up the hill and around some of the trees.

Once the fan was close to the trailer, dad got one side, I got the other side, we picked it up and dropped into the trailer.

Mom and I worked through some of the smaller trash, such as cans and bottles. We filled up a couple of garbage bags that will be put out for trash pick up. While mom and I were loading trash bags, dad was looking through the pile for anything that might be useful. One such item dad found was an old style chicken feeder, which I may use in my chicken coop pole barn.

Around 4 o’clock we decided to call it a day.

For dinner, mom, dad, my wife, my daughter and I met at Catfish Cabin In Jasper Texas. Everyone ordered the small shrimp or small fish dinner except my daughter who ordered the medium shrimp. Leftovers were brought home for the chickens.

February 2, 2013

My wife and I slept a little late. Its Saturday, why not sleep late? We got up around 8:30, got our shower and did our morning routine. Instead of getting breakfast out, I grabbed a frozen sausage, egg and cheese biscuit out of the freezer, after one minute in the microwave it was ready to go. Strawberries with a low-carb monster energy drink rounded out breakfast.

Before heading to the homestead my wife, my daughter and I went to Pickle’s Garden Center in Jasper Texas for some laying pellets and crushed oyster shell for the chickens. We went back home, dropped the laying pellets and oyster shell off then went to the homestead. The bed of the truck was going to be used for limbs I had cut the day before. The 50 pound bags of chicken feed were taking up space in the bed of the truck, so we took a few minutes to drop the bags off.

Upon arriving at the homestead the hand tools were unloaded – axe, sledge hammer, chainsaw, rake, gas and oil. The trees that were cut down and cut into sections the day before were loaded into the truck. My daughter drove the Toyota T-100 to the back of the field where the tree sections were stacked for the next bonfire.

Cutting pine tree stump

The time came to extract my revenge on the tree stump. Pine tree stumps may be fire resistant, but they are not resistant to Stihl chainsaws.

The first cut was from the top straight down through the heart of the stump. The second and third cuts were from the sides. I figured this would be easier then trying to cut all the way through the stump from one side.

As I was making the cuts, the width of the stump was the the same length as the chainsaw blade. In other words, the stump was 18 inches across.

It took maybe 5 minutes or so for that 20 year old Stihl chainsaw to cut through the pine tree stump, but I finally had my revenge.

My wife and daughter started loading tree limbs in the truck as I cut more tree stumps off at ground level. One of my main goals for the day was to cut tree stumps and a couple of small trees back so the tractor and grapple hook could get to the debris next weekend.

As I was cutting some of the smaller trees down and cutting them into manageable sections, the women were loading them into the truck . The wood was then transported to the back of a field and offloaded. Hopefully we will have another bonfire in the next few weeks to burn a lot of the debris.

Around 3:30 we shut it down, loaded up and went home.

Whats Next

Next weekend we will have a tractor with a grapple on location to help remove some of the trash.