Felling. That is what us expert loggers say...'we're felling trees'.  And if you really want to get into expert mode then you say 'I'm gonna lay 'er down right there'.  It is akin to farmers making hay.  At the end of a fine day of haying you say 'I made 1000 bale'...bale remains singular no matter how many bales you made.  If you pluralize that word...well let's just say its amateur hour out in that hayfield.
So to start my project I had to fell me some trees.  If you have followed me on FB or here you will know that I do LOVE chainsawing.  I had a nice little Rancher 55 Husqvarna with a 20 inch blade that I would use to cut quite the swath through our forest.  Typically I am cleaning up deadfall but every now and again I would fell standing dead trees.  Last summer in pursuit of this passion I decided I required an upgrade in chainsaw. I went to my wildfire fighting son figuring he would know a thing or two and asked what saw he used in the woods.  Turns out he was in the Pro series.  With that gauntlet thrown to the ground, I marched into my local Husqvarna dealer and got me one of those pro saws upping my blade length while I was at it. I love my new Pro saw.  Two pulls and I have that baby humming in the woods. We have had a lot of fun this winter trying to make the woods next to our house Fire Safe.  But as I stood contemplating the trees that needed to be felled in order to start my project, I knew this job was well beyond my capabilities.  They all stood very close to the cabin and the largest one was actually leaning in toward the cabin. So when my wildfire fighting son stopped in for a couple of days between university ending and wildfire season starting, I seized the opportunity to fell some trees with him...and maybe learn a thing or two while I was at it.
As we stood next to the cabin contemplating the three ash trees and coming up with a plan, I suddenly remembered that I had forgotten to bring the rope with us to the cabins.
"Rope?", the wildfire fighter responded blankly. "You know" I say to him "We tie rope on the tree and I pull on the rope away from the cabin while you chainsaw."
"Are you serious?!?" he responds. Feeling a little bit less expert than I had mere seconds earlier I asked him how he was going to make sure this tree leaning toward the cabin doesn't fall on the cabin. "I just need to hinge it properly" he responds. I suddenly knew this was going to get very interesting for me.  You see Morgan is part of a helitak wildfire crew. There are 4 people on his crew and one helicopter pilot...usually an Australian as they seem to be the only helicopter pilots crazy enough to fly into wildfires. When the alarm goes off Morgan and his crew climb into the helicopter with everything strapped on their backs...pickaxes, saws, chainsaws, gas, oil, water pump and water hose. Sometimes the helicopter lands and sometimes they are jumping out but the bottom line is that they end up in the forest as first responders to the wildfire with everything they need strapped to their backs. I can't say I have ever seen rope in the pictures of helitak crews going into the fire. If the helicopter can't land one of the first things they do is cut a place in the forest for helicopters to land so that they can get out of there and other crews can get in.  Even if the helicopter can land, they are still felling trees for fire guards.  There are only 4 of them and they are all working hard at their jobs.  I doubt there is much time to rig ropes and tug on trees while someone chainsaws.  You need to just get on with laying that tree down and laying 'er down right where you plan to lay 'er down because bonking one of your fellow wildfire fighters on the head with a tree would be greatly frowned upon.
This all came back to me in a flash so regaining my 'expert' pose, I asked him where he was going to lay 'er down.  "Right there", he pointed indicating a narrow path between two trees and away from the cabins.  With that he fired up the chainsaw and laid 'er down right where he said he would.  He then proceeded to lay down the second tree right beside that first one.
Laying 'er down...boom boom

He then handed me the chainsaw and showed me his hinges and explained how they direct the fall of the tree. "Most people die chainsawing by not hinging a tree properly" he explained.  This is good to know...So I laid into that third tree concentrating on my hinging.  The good news is that the tree did not fall onto the cabin.  However it did not land exactly where I thought it would.  Apparently one side of my hinge was too weak so the tree peeled off to the side a bit and pinged off one tree and then fell onto another tree which turned out to be a dead standing tree.  It came down and hit another tree in the forest taking it down which then dominoed off another tree bringing it down as well.  When the din had subsided in the forest, Morgan said "Shiiit you just took down 4 other trees".  I asked him if that meant I won...He just shook his head and showed me my hinge and how it all went wrong.
The art of hinging...hinge on the left is good, hinge on the right is bad.  Hinge on the left...is not mine

Now that I understand hinging better I am going to move forward with my project.  No more large trees to come down but rocks and bushes need to be cleaned up so that I have a fresh palette upon which to start the build.

The palette

This may take a while though because I have alot more cleanup to do in the forest than anticipated since in the end we felled 7 trees not 3.  "Well that's a bit of a mess" said Morgan. "I will leave that to you".  "No problem", I responded happily firing up my pro saw.
Let's count 'em together...one, two, three, four...

Speaking of felling, I fell out of the back of my truck yesterday while hauling water. The good news is that I did not break my arm.  The bad news is that I am going to need a couple of days before I have use of it again...


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