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Saturday, February 06, 2010

Too much going on

Risa has been dividing her attention between the woodpile and the south poultry pasture, where she is adding a stand of new fruit trees. At the nursery she picked out a Satsuma plum, a Superior plum, a Jonagold apple, a semi-dwarf apricot, and two Elberta peaches, all about her height, and laid them out on the ground in the rain. Measuring three shovel handles in each direction, she dug and delivered, leaving room for two persimmons that are on order. After each tree, observing the Hutterite rule that "a change is as good as a rest," she cut and stacked some wood. Then she would go and plant one of eight blueberry bushes (four early season, four late) in Bed Six of the garden. And then climb back to the pasture to dig another tree-sized hole.

In order that the sawdust could be collected for use around fruit trees and blueberries, she laid a couple of pieces of old two-by four across the wheelbarrow and made her cuts between them. But the end pieces fell into the wheelbarrow with such a whack that she became concerned for its health, this being a very poorly made wheelbarrow. So she prodded around among the maple leaves behind the woodshed and came up with an old, very small pallet. Cutting out the middle section with the electric chainsaw, she arranged the two-by-fours on either side of the new slot and found the new arrangement very handy for her purposes.

As the weather improved, the neighborhood horseback riders, joggers, walkers and cyclists came out of their various winter dens, stretched, looked about themselves, and took to their routes. Among these there is a retired gentleman who, when he finds Risa plugging away in the front gardens or at the woodshed, does not resist the urge to stop by and kibitz a little. He stays astride his bike and often remarks that he will "go away now and let you do your work," but his visits eke themselves out to last almost half an hour.

"You're at it again, huh?"

"Mm-hmm."

"That's a chainsaw? It looks too small for all this stuff." He pushed back his bike helmet a little, and a drop of sweat escaped down his temple.

"Mmm, s'okay if you don't push it. I do four or five cuts and then do something else for awhile."

"You oughta have a gasoline saw; they're more powerful, y'know."

"I do have one. But I don't use it unless I have to. Most of this wood likes the little saw fine, and it's easier on the ears."

"I always thought those were limbing saws."

"Oh, no. The bar and chain and sprocket are the same; the motor is just lower torque, that's all. Watch."

Risa squeezed the trigger and the bar sank gratifyingly through a round of lodgepole pine. At the end of the cut, the two logs fell gently away from each other over the edges of the parallel two-by-fours. [Yes, she uses two hands. The photos are a reconstruction and there is a camera in the other hand. Observe all safety precautions around chainsaws!]

"I see; and your setup keeps the bar from binding."

"And saves all the sawdust for the blueberries. The trick really is just to keep the saw sharp, and supplement the bar oil with axle grease on the rails."

"And I see you have your file and grease gun right here. Okay; I might just try that. Well, I oughta get going and let you do your work. Oh, say, about ducks ... "

Some time later Beloved stepped out to check the mailbox. Risa knew that she wouldn't do this while the bike was in the driveway. Big on privacy.

"So, your boyfriend's gone, hmmmm?"

"Is not my boyfriend. Means well ... has run out of things to watch on TV, I think."

It was time to go plant another tree. Too much going on out front.



Every job is good if you do your best and work hard. -- Laura Ingalls Wilder

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