13 October 2010

Chainsaw Story-Bigger is Better Even If you Are A Girl

I am working feverishly to get all the fallen trees bucked and stacked around here before winter hits. I'm still working on the trees that fell in the dastardly windstorm of June 2009. I'm trying desperately to catch up. It hasn't helped that I've sprained my darned ankle twice this year. Kinda put a crimp in my limp. I was starting to stress out about these trees because they have been down awhile and they need to get bucked and stacked before they rot. The thought of losing them kills me because these babies keep Koty and I warm all through the harsh Montana winters.

After the storm

When I first got here, eight years ago, I was familiar with chainsaw work (I had had a few eucalyptus at my home in Monterey I'd cut up for firewood) but nothing on the scale of forty acres of forest.  Upon arrival I promptly ventured into the local chainsaw shop to pick up a new chainsaw. I thought I'd better get one that was, what I thought, girl size. I chose, was guided to,  the Stihl MS 250 with a 16 inch bar. It seemed like a size that I could handle. And, I could handle it too except that it was a witch to start and took forever to cut through a tree trunk of any size. In fact it was so tough to start I was nearly worn out from pulling before I made my first cut.  And when the temperatures got down in the twenties and thirties, egad, I nearly couldn't make the grade. It sometimes got so bad that I'd literally get bruises on my hands from pulling. I thought "Wow you are a princess!"

The 250 was classified for cutting firewood and that was what I was doing so for nearly eight years I struggled with this saw. Oh, and did I mention I have a persnickety back? Leaning over a log holding a saw out in front of you is not a good back thing.

I'm pretty careful about the size of tree I attempt to fell because I work alone and you can get dead pretty darned quick if a tree falls on your head. They say that you just look for "the lean" and drop her that way. Well, let me tell you it ain't that easy. You can look at a tree from one side and think "OK, it's leaning that way." Then you go around to the other side and swear it was leaning another direction entirely. Bottom line, when I fell a tree it's more than likely to go the opposite direction from the one I intended. Needless to say I leave the felling of larger trees to the boys.

So, when the guys have come out, over the years, to drop trees for me I have marveled at the size of their chainsaws and the fact that they could just throw the saw out whilst holding the pull and those big dogs would just start right up. Me, I had to put my tiny chainsaw down on the ground and place my foot through the handle in order to start it. Not that I want to be a man mind you but I must admit I was jealous. I think I may have had chainsaw envy. I also envied the way those big chainsaws cut through a big trunk in a Minnesota  minute. It would take me and my 250 at least twice as long.

So, I struggled along for nearly eight years and I was able to keep up pretty good with what needed to be done. Then a windstorm back in June 2009 downed around fifty trees. Having to divide my time between photography and ranching I started to fall behind. Mind you I could hire all this work out except for the fact that this place is my baby and no one understands how to raise it better than I. I will keep doing it myself until I am no longer able. I have as much passion for this land as I do for my photography. When I die I hope they will find me out in my forest with my Nikon in my hand and a smile on my face.

I digress. Back to the chainsaw. So, I'm getting myself pretty worked up about not handling my forestry work. I decide to go to my chainsaw shop and check up on what it would be like to go a notch bigger. They showed me the Stihl 290 Farm Boss.

Stihl Farm Boss 290

The thing was three pounds heavier and it had a twenty inch chain. I thought "Well, maybe". But then I was worried about how tough it would be to start. I figured bigger, harder to start. We went out back of the shop and they let me give it a pull. It started right up but it had already been started so I said I'd sleep on it and come in for a "cold" start. I went back the next day and did a total cold start. The chainsaw started right up. In fact, it was much easier to start than the much smaller 250. I bought it on the spot.

I have been using the Farm Boss chainsaw now for several weeks and I am cruising through my wind fall like a jalopy. Yes, it is heavier but it's easier to start and cuts through a log in half the time. And get this, I can throw the thing and start it just like guys who know what they're doing! The net result is my back is much happier and so am I because I can now see I can keep up with Mother Nature, well at least for this go around.

And, gents, if I can handle this thing imagine what you can do!

©Kinsey Barnard

1 comment:

Heather said...

Oh girl! You are stronger than me and the hubby put together!
We have a chainsaw (don't ask me what kind or size) and it wears us out just trying to get the dang thing started. Thankfully we don't have to do firewood. I think we used it twice this year and might have to once more before the year is done.

My hat is off to you!