His first week on the new job has been good. He's tired when he comes home, but it's a happy tired. That makes me happy. As long as he's on the evening shift, he'll work weekends with Wednesdays and Thursdays off. I'm off on Saturday and Sunday but as long as he's working, I figure I might as well be too.
On Saturday, I caught up on some yardwork. There is a huge oak tree beside our driveway that died in the drought last year. It is technically on our neighbor's property but it's huge and hangs about 30 feet over our fence line and across the driveway. It's been shedding branches for the past several months, some big enough to completely block the driveway. The neighbor that owns the property is elderly and lives out of state so calling them to take care of the problem is not really an option. We just clean up when we need to and salvage the bigger pieces for firewood. Oak is good firewood and this is already dried. It's a good trade off.
Further down the driveway, we had a couple of pine saplings succumb to the drought last year too. Those needed to come out and go on the burn pile. Pine is too sappy to use in a fireplace. It took me about three hours to get it all done yesterday. I took my little truck up the driveway and started sorting through the downed limbs. What was thick enough for at least kindling got tossed in a pile across the driveway and what was too small or too thin to be useful got tossed into the truck to go to the burn pile. The pine saplings had been dead for a year, so they just snapped off at the ground for me. They were planted amidst yuopons by the previous owner here, so I'm not worried about leaving the stumps in the ground. The yuopons will keep me from accidentally mowing over the stump and it will rot on it's only over time.
Our driveway is about 150 feet long. The dead pine trees were clear up by the road and the dead oak tree is about 100 feet from the road, so I had to move the truck a couple of times to get to all the downed limbs. Once all of the scrap was in the truck, I drove down and put it all in the burn pile. That took longer and was harder than getting it in the truck to begin with. It was all tangled up in the back of the truck and it wanted to come out as one big bundle. That would be fine if I was strong enough to drag that much wood out all at once, but I'm not. So I had to wrestle with it a little but I finally got it done.
On my way back up, I stopped at the garage and got the tow chain. It's a 50-foot heavy tow chain and I love it. Tow chains are right up there with duct tape and baling wire as far as this country girl is concerned. I have used it to drag panels when I move the round pen, pull a vehicle (or a lawnmower) out of a bog, and drag whole trees to the big burn pile. I even used it to drag a round bale of hay the last 50 feet to its destination one time. The round bale wasn't quite 'round' anymore when I got there, but I got her done. I needed the tow chain yesterday because one of the limbs the oak dropped was about 18 feet long and at least 8-10 inches thick. I had wrestled it to the middle of the driveway but it still needed to be moved another 50 feet down the driveway to where Yeoldfurt could cut it up with the chainsaw. Even as dead wood, it was too heavy for me to drag that far. I could have done it if I had to, but I would have probably hurt myself in the process. I'm all for doing things the easy way if it's an option.
I backed the truck up the driveway until I was about 10 feet from the limb. I hooked the tow chain to the truck and made a double loop over the near end of the limb with the chain. Nothing like setting off to drag something and finding out you lost the load and are only towing the tow chain by itself. So I was careful to loop the second part of the double loop on top of the first part, so it would tighten first and clamp down on the first loop. When the chain was set up, I sorted through the pile of wood I wanted to save for firewood and stacked it in the bed according to size. I kept pieces even if they were only a few inches long. As long as they are at least two inches thick, they will be good in the firebox. When all the wood was on the truck, I drove on down the driveway to the garage and unloaded it all. We don't use much firewood in the winter because we don't have a long or very harsh winter season here, but it's nice to have the option of cranking up the fireplace. We have a heater insert in the fireplace and it does a good job.
After all the outside chores were done yesterday, I cooked up some red beans & rice and a batch of cornbread for Yeoldfurt's supper on Sunday. As long as he's on this evening shift, I have to stay a day ahead of him on cooking because I leave for work first during the week and I don't have time to cook a meal before I leave. But when all that was done and all the critters were fed and put up for the night, it was 'me' time. I took a shower, dropped into chat for an hour or so, and then sat down to read a few chapters in Starving the Monkeys while I waited for Yeoldfurt to get home. It was a good day.