Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Building a life #3. Logging.

                                                                                  Run, run, run away.

There is our VW van parked over on a logging road beside a little tent. Beside that, is our collie-cross Saffi and inside the tent are our three children. It is an autumn Sunday, we are high in the lodgepole pine covered hills overlooking our village of Okanagan Falls. I am cutting poles for the log cabin that we will begin to build a year from now. In the few short months since buying our property on Saltspring Island we have made a plan for our move and the first year of our future life. We will build a pump house / workshop and buy a travel trailer to park beside it and live in these through the first winter. We will build a barn for our farm animals with extra loft room to store our furniture, and establish a vegetable garden. We will build a log cabin to live in while we build our main house. We will build our life!

These long thin straight trees I am felling, trimming and cutting into lengths with my brand new Husquevarna 65 chainsaw will give me a head start on the cabin project as I complete my last year of teaching art. Once I have hauled them home in a rented flatbed truck I can skin the bark off and rack them up to dry in the cold dry snowy interior climate so they will be seasoned and ready for building with when they are hauled to the coast. I have books on how to do this but to make sure I am also taking a log building course on Saturdays. I must complete this logging phase before the snow falls and the hills become inaccessible.

I make the first wedge undercut facing into the clearing, check to see that Heather is well clear and begin the back cut that will bring the tree down - I hope! All this is pretty new to me and sometimes trees twist on their stumps and lean against others necessitating more dangerous felling of those that are leaned upon. A professional would shudder at my lack of experience and the risks I am taking. My tall thin pine starts to lean in the right direction. I shout ‘Timber!’ and then see our dog Saffi running toward me straight down the path of the falling tree. I yell some more and she looks up, frantically reverses course and just escapes the top branches as they hit the ground. A yelp indicates that she got touched. She runs back to the tent and dives inside among the playing children. Saffi, we have discovered is not the smartest dog in the world but perhaps she too can learn from practical experience like her owners. If we all survive the learning process.

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