23 August 2008

Extreme Weather & The Timber Terminator

Mama Mia! I don't know what has been going on in the rest of the country but the weather here in northwest Montana has been wild. Spring was downright cold and we had significant snow in June. July was the coolest in the six years we have lived here and now we've just come off a heat wave. The temperatures were in the high nineties and over one hundred down in the valley. For us'ens who don't like the heat it was time to hide in the house. Lucky for us insulation works as well in the summer as it does in the winter and our temperatures always drop down into the fifties at night. We just open all the windows at bedtime and close them up when the sun crests the eastern ridge. The house stays cool all day even when it's in the nineties outside.

Suddenly, in just a few hours, the heatwave ended. A storm brewed and we were back in the 50's during the day. It rained for two days straight. The rain was good because we have had a dry summer and the forest floor just crackled under your feet.

I find summer to be the least intriguing time to ply my craft as a photographer so I generally take off from serious photography to work on my ranch. Wood gathering is a big job for a girl and a dog. The "Timber Terminator" would be me. A nickname my neighbor gave me because he finds it rather amusing that a gal would take up the chainsaw and maul.

So, now the weather is behaving it's off to work we go! Actually, most of the timber we work on has already been terminated by Mother Nature. Round these parts they call it blow down or windfall and dead standing. The green trees we take are generally for management purposes. Taking the few for the greater good so to speak.

The darned things don't always fall in the most convenient places either and can be very tricky to work on without knocking yourself off in the process. Since Koty is my only workmate extra care has to be taken. Most people think I am a bit daft not only to be doing this work alone but to be doing it at all. The fact is I love working in the forest. I will only quit when I physically can't do it anymore.

Once the Ranger is full it's off to the chopping pile. Chopping and stacking wood is another chore I love. It must be the best aerobic exercise out there. I love looking out the window at the full and neatly stacked shed. I love the warm heat it provides which permeates the entire house. I love the energy bill, about $50 in the dead of winter when we are at home.

They say you have trouble sleeping as you get older. Well, Koty and I are both doing the hard court press on sixty and there are no sleepless nights around here. No need for Ambien or other pharmaceutical poison either.

Soon it will be time to be on the road again and photography will fill our every waking moment. But, for now, this is the work that fills our days. Mother Nature blesses us every day in every way and we are grateful beyond measure.

Be sure and check out The Liberated Photographer

Ciao for now!
Koty & Kinsey

©Kinsey Barnard


Azure Accessories said...

Oh my...your first photo is absolutely stunning...blue is one of my favorite colors!!!!!!

Our weather has been completely off this year as well...cold, wet spring and summer, but we also had a bit of a heat wave last week...

One thing...we've had a tremendous amount of thunder storms, which is very unusual for us!

I'm truly impressed with your wood cutting/gathering capabilities, good for you...I used to enjoy everything physical...cutting the grass, snow shoveling, I helped install three pools, shoveled gravel, piled wood, gardening...anything at all...but unfortunately I've developed a form of arthritis in my neck and chest that doesn't allow me to do all my favorite things anymore!!! Enjoy it...

I know you are a smart lady but please do be careful when doing your wood cutting chores alone!!! I'm sure you've heard that many times...doesn't hurt to hear it again...:0)

Great little Ranger you have...my husband has a 6 wheeler at the camp and it will go in the most amazing spots...

That is quite the pose Koty has chosen...does he often sleep this way...:0) I know animals will get in the darnedest positions...my cat sure does!


Robin Easton said...

What a beautiful post, visually, literarily and spiritually. I chewed through it and really relate to how you feel about this kind of work. I LOVE it!! When I say I love it, I mean it that THRIVE in it.

I too am a chain saw gal, an axe gal, a ditch digger, you name it. I don't do as much of it right now due to where and how I live at the moment, but we want to get a place more remote so that we can once again live this lifestyle. I've been reading about strawbale house constuction lately and would love to build a one at some point (with some help). I miss being on "the land" daily. Even though I garden, hike, photograph, etc. that's not the same as "bringin' in the wood", and all the other outdoor activities that one does when they live so close to the land.

I was curious if your saws were Husqvarna's. They make some great long bladed saws.

The photos are just gorgeous Kinsey. I am so proud of you.

People can still have odd ideas and beliefs of what a woman can and can't do or should and shouldn't do. My sweetheart often laughs when the plumber asks him a question. He'll say, "Oh gawd, don't ask me. SHE's the one who knows about all that stuff. SHE's the handyman in this house. SHE wires phone jacks, dig ditches, cuts the dead tree limbs, fixes the the dishwasher, the garbage disposal and so forth." And he is always so proud of me. BUT the plumber, roofer, etc. always have to readjust their thinking when they realize they are going to be dealing with a woman and not a man. It's sometimes challenging for some of them to comprehend.

Of course I just LOVE it!!! :) :)

Walker said...


I'm sorry about your arthritis I know how frustrating it must be not to do the things physical that you love.

Yes, one can never be reminded too often to be careful. Using the chainsaw is one of those times I must be "in the moment" or I just pack it in.

My Ranger is a 6x6 too and it has been the best piece of equipment I've bot. I just love it! I have a 6ft hydraulic snow plow I slip on the front and it plows like a champion.

Walker said...


I'm a Stihl gal myself. I've been using them for years and like them very much. I've got some back issues so use as light a one as I can get away with.

christine said...

daft! what a wonderful word.
i laughed out loud when i saw kotybear lie there like a baby. how sweet!
thanks for the gorgeous forest photos. i am not surprised that after such work you both have no trouble sleeping.

cheers from california!

christine + earl

Michelle B. Hendry said...

Koty is so sweet!! He has the right idea of how to get good sleep! I plan to get myself out into the woods today and take advantage of the comfortable hiking temperature of 55 degrees!

Great pictures.... as usual!