Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Results Of Snow

Whilst I was away this last month, The Ranch had snow.  Lots of snow - up to 13 inches, which for here is pretty much a blizzard. Of course power went out as it did across many areas here; based on where The Ranch is, they were without power for 13 days.  Conveniently, I showed up after the power was back on - that said, almost three weeks after the snow there is still a little bit in the shade.


Apparently there were a few trees down on the road out but they all got cut/pulled off.  The trees around the house lost some limbs but fortunately no real damage.


Note the widow maker pine tree in the top of the other tree.


One of the oak trees in the Lower Meadow split and may have to come down:


But the real shock was walking down the longer path past the Lower Meadow to the creek and back up to the main road (technically, our "official driveway".  Here, as there has been no traffic, the damage was much clearer.



This oak tree split in three sections.  The reason for its fall is clear: heartwood rot.





Not everything has fallen:

You may remember this shot from the creek, where I had the epiphany of two streams splitting and then meeting again:

The split will be gone soon enough:


So many other trees leaning, ready to go:




 Being my father's son of course, my first reaction was "Look at how much firewood there is".  The actual disposition of this is somewhat in question, as the property the trees are on is not ours but the road is - that said, were we to start pulling the wood out, I doubt anyone would care especially now:  there are far more trees down in the area than can be used by any one person or group of people.

In a way, it is sad - not just for the fact the trees have fallen, but for what ultimately be the waste of so much good wood.

Were we a smart society and one based on the use of actual renewable resources instead of the ones we think are renewable, we would see many of the trees not been cut up and pushed to the side of the road to rot but turned into firewood (renewable heat) or salvaged as potential lumber in a thousand small mills for use in building.  There would be chipping and transport to spread over areas damaged by fire or used in gardens and animal pens.  Some would remain in the forest to break down slowly, recreating the cycle of life.  The more clever among us would be gassifying the wood or turning into other useful things.  But even with a rather unanticipated bounty, we would be putting the wood to good use instead of just leaving it to rot wholesale or thrust to the side, an inconvenience to be pushed away.

Thus the tragedy is magnified, not just in the destruction but in the waste.

24 comments:

  1. Locally, hurricane Rita created the same feelings you expressed in your post. So much of the timber ended up in landfills, only to rot over time. I'm sure the industrious of the workers took their fill of wood for use, or sale, but that was a small part of what was destroyed. Lumber industries turned much of their damaged timber to pulp wood, which is better than waste, but not as profitable as the lumber that could have been milled.

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    1. Jess - Once upon a time - within my lifetime - the wood downed here would have been taken to the local sawmill to be made into lumber (as well as the aforementioned firewood). The lumbermill is long gone, a victim of government policies that made the cutting and processing of trees unprofitable (but somehow made shipping lumber in from afar affordable). Sadly, there is no pulp industry hereabouts although you are correct, that is another option. Here, I suspect, we are rural enough that landfills are not a concern and what is not cut up for firewood will just rot away.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. Ah the nail's head you have hit with the simple statement ...
    "Were we a smart society and one based on the use of actual renewal resources instead of the ones we think are renewable.."
    We are not my friend and whilst our greed rules our lives nor will we ever be one.

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    1. John, you comment reminds me that I meant to write "renewable" for "renewal" - bless your kindness in not pointing out my obvious error.

      But it does still out, does it not? "Renewable energy" rules the conversation, yet our renewable energy is largely based on the manufacturing of equipment that uses resources itself and has a limited lifespan, after which it will likely go to inhabit one of our many landfills or, I suppose, be recycled -itself using energy and other materials.

      "While greed rules our lives nor will we ever be" - this is a pretty profound statement I need to dwell on. Thanks as always for your insightful comments.

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  3. Anonymous4:28 AM

    Storms and blizzards in charge of cleaning out the dead or injured trees, leaving the stronger to carry on. The Bad - work detail. The Good - possible firewood to be gathered and used.

    Down here in Texas, mesquite is a favored cooking firewood choice and some crews will even volunteer to clean up a good specimen so they can use or sell the resulting cuts.

    When we built our home, several large mesquite trees had to be cut down to make room for building slab. My then girlfriend (now wife) specifically wrote in the work contract that the wood be cut and stacked in the back for drying.

    Pretty place - thank you for the photos.

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    1. There has not been a storm of this nature here in some years, which is why I suspect that more than the average number of trees are down. It does indeed make room for the new and although I will miss the holes the downed trees will make, hopefully those that come after me will enjoy them (they will not return in my lifetime).

      Mesquite is cooking wood I have had only on occasion but recall the meat being extra delicious. It also burns relatively hot, if I recall correctly. And it sounds like your then girlfriend/now wife had exactly the right thoughts.

      The beauty of the land here continues to astound me, and I have literally been coming up here for over fifty years.

      Thank you for your comments and stopping by!

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  4. Your heart rot looks like it was hit by lightning.

    We had an oak split in the 2020 tornado that took out so many trees. Both halves seem to be doing well. It will be up to his brother if it comes down though, as BIL and wife planted it shortly after they were married, if I recall correctly.

    And as you know, between hurricanes and tornadoes a lot of pecan and cedar here in our yard went into the burn pit.

    No one wanted to come out and get it, and having it milled wasn't in the cards right then.

    Gld no one was injured and only trees were damaged.

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    1. Linda - I remember how many trees you lost. And yes, everyone is willing to have the finished product be it firewood (to Ed's point) or milled lumber, but few are willing to do the work or pay the money to get it.

      Speak with my friend The Actor about his property about 20 miles away and 1000 feet lower, he has noticed the same thing on his oak trees. Not sure if it is a disease or just the fact the climate has been stressing of late.

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  5. I live on a small three acre lot but have lost probably close to 50 trees in the last 10 years of living here. I burn what I can but that is nowhere close to even making a small dent in the wood. I have tried giving it away but due to the slope of the land and the fact that I'm not willing to split the wood and then give it away for free, that hasn't worked out well. So I have burnt some of it when I can and pushed the rest down into the ditch to rot. Breaks my heart every time. I have a nice tree down that I would like to make into boards for a future project but just don't have a good place to store the wood to dry for two years, nor a mill to make it into boards, nor a way to get it to a mill to have done for me. I'm not sure what its fate will be when it warms up but for now, it lies on the edge of my lawn covered in snow.

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    1. Ed, it breaks my heart as well. Three-four years ago the power company came through to clean up the lines and cut down everything that even looked like a concern. Some nice old long straight trees were felled, just to lie there.

      The Cowboy has a mill and can convert them, but honestly there is zero market for lumber right now, which seems odd to me considering how much building is going on all over.

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    2. Maybe research hugelkultur. It's a wonderful way to incorporate logs into cultivated mounds for planting. So the rot benefits food production. Just a thought.

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    3. What a brilliant idea Leigh! I have Sepp Holzer's book and will have to revisit it!

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  6. Looking at that wonderful landscape, it's amazing how few were downed. I'm sure glad there was little damage up near the homestead.

    There was a big flood in the Texas Hill Country in 1979 or so. The small school I attended in 1983 had PILES of wood for use in the wood stoves in all the little "dorms" we lived in. They cleaned up the banks of the Guadalupe near the school. Now, I see wood stacked for 'heavy trash' day down here all the time. Hackberry, and other stuff mostly. Never any mesquite. That gets sucked up pretty quickly. It makes really pretty implements and furniture, not just tasty food.

    I've got plans for a gasifier, and I have all the parts to make one. I just need to get my round tuit out. I also need to get after my water pre-heater project. Know of any cheap, good 10-25 KW 3 phase generator heads? The slower speed ones, 1800 rpm?





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    1. We are grateful as well, STxAR. It could have been much worse.

      Even in our local urban neighborhood, wood gets left out for collection into the trash pile. Part of me always thinks "If only I had a wood stove here".

      Sadly, I know what a "generator" is but have zero idea on the rest.

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  7. It's said that there isn't any waste in nature.

    Downed trees rot down and feed other trees. Fungi need dead trees to survive and do all the mushroomy things that they tend to do. Mice, rats, rabbits, skunks, birds, etc use downed trees for shelter.

    I could probably go on and on, but I won't.


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    1. Rich - Agreed that nature is the perfect recycler (only outdone, perhaps, but the appetites of young male teenagers). That said, my comment was really more directed at the fact that there could be other uses for these materials and we do not have any organized methodology for using them. An easy one - and one I am a fan of - is using down trees for wood before cutting down a new one. Individuals may the have the ability to do this, but not on the scale that would make effective use of this. At least in our neck of the woods, there will also be trees that are easy to get (such as the ones lying right across the road) and the ones higher up. To access the road, they will need to be cut up regardless; my "issue" (I guess it is an issue? Concern seems overally dramatic) is that for those sorts of things, they will most likely just rot away instead of being used when they could be used.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  8. You need an ATV, a tub trailer and a chainsaw TB.

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    1. So I actually have access to all of these things Glen, plus a truck, a tractor, and a backhoe. I need to learn some of them, of course, but they are all here.

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  9. I have read of an attachment for chain saws that lets you do your own rough cut lumber.
    I had been trying to talk hubby into one for several years, but he didn't see the need at the time.
    Could have used it in 2020.

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    1. I would not be surprised, Linda. I certainly foresee chainsaw practice in my future.

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    2. Spend a little money on the chaps that bind up in the chain saw if you get a leg too close. I had an old neighbor that cut his own leg off with a chain saw. No use trying to cut wood only to have to turn a peg leg for yourself.

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    3. Oh, that is my biggest fear STxAR. Wise advice.

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  10. Shiitake mushrooms like logs from the red oak clade.

    That might be an interesting fig given your study of Japanese culture.

    You might not get many mushrooms if you are not there to harvest them but they will likely become endemic and will be there waiting for you should you ever move to the ranch.

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    1. ERJ, mushrooms are always one of the multiplicity of things I have often thought of but never done. I will definitely keep them in mind.

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