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Adventures in the Woods

We have established our ‘foothold’ here at Calvert. The driveway is done so we can pull in and park equipment and the hook-ups (sans water) are in place to make my like just a bit easier. The next order of business on a wooded property like this one where you eventually intend to have a 4 acre lake and a house site is to get rid of the woods. DUH! :).

I went in to quite a bit of detail about this endeavor when we did the same thing last year  in Newton County; I call it Wigglin’ in the Woods. The basic premise is you take a piece of heavy equipment that is as long as a ’59 Caddy, as tall as a highway overpass and as heavy as an 18 wheeler and try to fit it into an insanely small space. Oh, did I forget to mention you have to fit into this small space with limited sight because of the bushes and brush and limbs? Try sticking your head in a really bushy fern on your Grandma’s front porch and you will understand what I mean.

If you clicked on the Wigglin’ link above, you will see a picture of the John Deere 750C dozer we use for clearing and a description of the modifications made to protect it in such a harsh job. Heavy wire mesh window screens, an armored underbelly and steel guards over the hydraulic cylinders give some degree of protection. Heavy clearing is about the only time I am not listening to my Zune 120 – it is just too intense.

Even with all that protection and technology, a few things still scare me. Rattlesnakes scare me every day but clearing + rattlesnakes is bad juju.  It seems that when they get injured either by being slightly run over by a bulldozer or mashed by a crashing limb that they are more prone to strike without warning.   In other words,  you don’t get that complimentary warning rattle before they try to sink their fangs in the calf of your leg.   Because I don’t care for rattlesnakes in general and especially because I fear a dozer mashed, pissed off rattler even more, I always pull out and park in a cleared area before I get off the dozer.   Another thing that scares me is falling trees.  Simple physics and gravity usually take care of the trees.  You push them a little bit, and then a little bit more and they fall in the opposite direction in which you are pushing.  Most of the time….   Sometimes in heavy timber, the top of the tree you are pushing is all tangled up in the limbs of an adjacent tree.  So you push the butt of the tree and the top does not move.  You push a little harder; hoping to shake it loose from the entangling branches; and the butt just pushes out farther.  Before you know it, you have the butt pushed way out, the top is still in the same place and now the tree is leaning back towards YOU!  Holy crap!  Sometimes, you can gingerly back up and the tree will stay in place and you can sorta get around on one side and push it down.  Most of the time, there isn’t room to do that and you just have to back up and let it crash down all around you.

The last thing that scares me is a dead tree.  You have no upward visibility in a bulldozer. They don’t make ’em with sun roofs.   So there ya go, ripping and tearing through the woods and eventually you run up on a dead tree.  Sometimes you notice it because it looks dead with no bark or a bunch of dead limbs littering the ground around the trunk and sometimes you get fooled.   The worst dead tree is one that still has a bunch of the upper branches attached but the bottom trunk looks normal.  When you bump that tree to push it over, the motion is amplified as it moves upward and it will just snap! those upper branches.  And then BAM!, down they come right on top of the dozer with no warning.  Sometimes I am so startled I almost pee in my pants!

That is what happened to me this week.

A non-standard bulldozer accessory

All of a sudden BAM! and I had a branch as big around as my leg stuck between the hydraulic cylinder and the roll over protection bars on the dozer and it wasn’t going any where.  I eased out into a clear area – remember that rattlesnake thing?  –  and evaluated the situation.  Normally, I would go fetch the Stihl 026 chainsaw and just cut it out but the truck with the chainsaw was way down the road.

There was a Caterpillar backhoe just 50 yards away…  I wonder?

Working smarter, not harder

I took an extra long look at the limb and figured there was enough heavy limb sticking out in front of the dozer blade that I could pull the bucket up there and just lift it off…. Why not? Working smart is a good thing, right? So I got that old backhoe and eased up there ever so careful and carefully picked that limb up. A little twist to the left and I dropped it to the ground. Hah! That was almost too easy!

End Note: Caleb and Ray Dawn by Houston Marchman from the album Leaving Dallas.  If you like your dose of Texas Music full strength, Marchman is a  little noticed Texas treasure.

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3 comments to Adventures in the Woods – The Sky is Falling!

  • Kathy

    Ah, a kindred spirit in the land of the lost. Thought you might find these useful. http://www.turtleskin.com/Snake-Chaps.aspx
    By the way my adult sons name is Hunter after Hunter S. Thompson.
    Isn’t life grand……..
    A song by Jimmie Dale Gilmore comes to mind.
    oh, hell, just play any song by him.
    and I really enjoyed reading your blog about internet access.
    Kathy

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    • admin

      “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” HST 1974.

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  • Kathy

    “Even cowgirls get the blues” by Tom Robbins C.1977

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