Caveat Emptor– this blog post has nothing to do with technology, learning, spam, WordPress, twitter, or the other junk that makes up the focus here. Its just about what I did with a tree. I could make a stretch and leap to something about learning objects, re-usable content… but that can be an exercise left for the reader.
Now that I am living in Strawberry Arizona, a small town in the middle of a National Forest, at 6000 feet elevation, a number of environment differences are obvious. First, form where I lived before in Scottsdale, the city has a progressive recycling program- paper, cans, bottles, plastic go in a big giant can, it disappears, and we assume it is all recycled. That story is another blog post.
But in a small town, recycling, transporting, etc is likely cost prohibitive. There is a collection for aluminum can at the fire station, and WalMart in Payson takes paper can cardboard. How I hate now tossing glass and soup cans in the trash! And most of my paper has been used for starting fires in the wood stove.
And heat is an issue, cause it gets damn cold; well below freezing December through end of February, and even through May, can get to or below freezing. I have propane heat provided as a utility (flows out of a pipe form somewhere), but propane prices have gone through the roof- the paper from Payson has stories of people closing rooms, lowering the thermostat to 60, and still paying $500/month. The place I am in now is small (less than 900 square feet) so it heat up well, but I’ve been trying to do most of my heat from burning firewood in the wood stove (another issue not mentioned is the effect of smoke on the ozone, or consuming natural resources).
The wood goes fast when you are here all the time, and I can say there is some exercise value to splitting wood and moving if from the pile to the storage area below the deck to the rack on the deck to inside. I’ve taken a few medium/small trees down (one too close to the house or ones the weather got to) so its nice to use my own wood.
A few weeks back I bought from Alex a cord of wood (good lord what a weird unit- “One cord is defined as 128 cubic feet (3.62 mÂ³), corresponding to a woodpile 4 feet wide Ã— 4 feet high Ã— 8 feet long.”) which is really a pile from the back of a truck. When Alex was here he was eying a big oak off the corner of the houe, right between that and my shed. It was maybe 35 or 40 feet high, with branches over the house, and wa honestly of not much use, especially if I ever considered adding a room or a real garage.
Plus, a he told me, the tree was top heavy. These are either Arizona White Oak or Emory Oak (I tried to find the difference, but am not a botany dude and it really does not matter to me). Alex told me the centers of these tree tend to stay soft and absorb water like a sponge for times of lean water. Smart species find a way to adapt to arid conditions. Anyhow, this tree had a huge open hole on one side, so the sun shined in there and dried out most of the bottom of the tree, which was then largely hollow, while the top was still solid and heavy. So the whole tree was top heavy, and possible in danger of falling.
It was a much bigger job than my chainsaw and skills could manage, so I hired Alex to take it down and leave me the wood. He said something about an extra $25 to haul the crown and smaller limbs to the dump, but I said, “woah” I can find a way to use it all. Let’s not add stuff to the dump I can put to use.
So this is how I used an entire oak tree (or will use).
First of all I got a lot of solid oak firewood. Maybe a 1/4 of a cord was dry enough to split and use right away, and I have another 1/2 cord of giant pieces that need to dry out a year. In the stove it burns long.
Next, look at this stump:
There is no scale, but its about 30 inches across. Inside of it was a lot of soft pulp and chip that was great additive for my compost pile, so I scooped it out. I’m thinking when I plant in May or June, I can fill it with soil and have a nice little flower bed.
Next, I had a huge pile of medium sized branches, limbs with leaves from the crown, that stretched in a pile across the driveway. It at there a few weeks as I was traveling and did not have time to deal with it.
This is almost the last bit- I did not get a picture of it all, but it was 4 or 5 times as much as you see here. So the job was clipping off the medium sized branches, and stripping the leaves in to bin, and breaking up the medium and small limbs and filling bins. I use these as kindling to start fires on my wood stove.
Its very tedious, stripping leaves with work gloves, snapping the bare limbs into bite sized pieces.
And I ended up with about 6 bins full of kindling.
And there are large limbs, some pretty solid, that will need some chainsaw action to cut into pieces small enough to use in the firewood pile:
All of the leaves and twigs stripped from the branches go into the compost/mulch pile where the garden will be, so that will get recycled as I start turning dirt in a few weeks
So I am using the entire tree- am I actually engaged in permaculture? I dunno, but there is a lot of satisfaction in (a) a few days of physical labor (“real work” not this computer crap); and (b) re-using everything in some new manner.
Not that I want to do this kind of work every day ;-)
So that is the story of a big tree I have been working on, disassembling, and redistributing…