Sunday, March 22, 2009

Hot Dirty Man Work

Early Saturday morning, I took a phone call from a fellow retired Navy friend, Mike. Mike and I worked together for a few months when I was stationed in Grand Rapids from 2001-2003. He served as the Senior Enlisted Advisor at Navy-Marine Corps Reserve Center Grand Rapids and he retired from the Navy in 2006. Mike bought a home in in a rural area of Lowell back in 2003, and he year by year he has cleared some of the trees from his property, built a pole barn, put up some fences for his horses and livestock, etc. Yep, Mike is quite handy.

Back to the phone call. Mike called me to see if I would like to help him cut up and split some wood. I have helped him in the past and in return, Mike would give me my share of "sweat equity" firewood. Deirdre and I were also going to meet Mike and his wife Rhonda for dinner later in the day, so it seemed like a good idea to spend a few hours with him cutting up some wood, plus I will be set for firewood for next winter.

The trees that we cut up were located a few miles from his house. A very large oak tree had fallen due to natural forces, and the property owner (a 77 year old retiree named Gil) wanted to get rid of the tree. Apparently another person had started cutting up the tree but apparently he gave up because the tree was too large. However, Mike has a very large Stihl chainsaw which was easily up to the task.

I arrived at Mike's house around 1230 and soon thereafter we left for the tree. It was a very, very large oak tree. Mike gave me some specific tasking to start cutting up two of the limbs of the tree while he started to work on the main trunk.
Cutting up firewood is, as the Maven would say, "Hot dirty man work." I will tell you that this effort to cut up the wood was precisely that. While the outside air temp was around 45F, there was not a cloud in the sky and the sun was shining brightly upon us. Quite quickly, I was hot and dirty and having a blast. I used my Husqvarna 345 chainsaw to work on the limbs, cutting the wood into 18 inch long pieces. 18 inches is a standard size for most fireplaces and wood stove, and I learned the first time I cut wood with Mike that under no circumstances should the wood I am cutting be much longer or shorter than 18 inches. I suppose that there are lots of unwritten rules about cutting and splitting firewood, and each time I work with Mike I learn a few new ones.

We spent about an hour cutting up the limbs and the trunk, so we were now about 1/3 done with our work. After you cut the wood into 18 inch pieces, you have to split it. I used one of Mike's
wood mauls and started chopping away. The maul is a simple tool and it does an excellent job of splitting the round pieces of wood in half. The work goes something like this: Set the log up on the ground, swing the maul and split the log. Repeat until all the logs are split. This effort took about 45 minutes and once the splitting was done, we loaded the wood into the back of Mike's truck. Loading the wood did not take that long, and as soon as the the wood was in the truck bed, we went to his house to off load. We literally threw the wood out of the back of his truck on to the ground, and Mike said to me, "I will stack it later. You should get back to East Grand Rapids to get cleaned up before dinner." Who was I to refuse the orders of a Navy Chief Petty Officer? I headed home and I was hot and dirty. I got home sucked down a couple bottles of Fruit2O and got cleaned up in preparation to head back to Lowell to have dinner with Mike and his wife Rhonda.

At the end of the day, I spent about 3 hours cutting and splitting wood. Mike and I were able to catch up on the happenings in our lives, cut up and split some wood, and basically enjoy some time outdoors in one of the nicest days so far this year.


Big Johnny said...

One can just sense the testosterone flowing thru those veins !!

Chris said...

Sounds like a glorious way to spend a few hours, Paul. I have man-envy! Husqvarna rules!

Paul's Blog said...

Well, I will be back at it this Saturday. Are you busy?

Lisa said...

Someone's slacking! :-)

Paul's Blog said...

I know, I know... Work has really gotten in the way of my blogging!