The Sound of a Chainsaw…

I arrived home from work early Friday morning. In the distance I could hear the sound of the neighbor running his chainsaw. The sound of a neighbor running a chainsaw is a neighbor inviting you to come help with some good, hard work. I knew he was working on cutting up one of the trees he had brought down last week. Art (the neighbor) and I came together to have a professional tree cutter bring down 6 trees between our two properties. Four on his and two on mine. His four were dead or dying but were too big for us amateurs to mess with. Mine were dangerously in need of being taken care of, again not something for weekend warriors.

I had a hickory that was rotting at the base and was about half gone from the ground up to about four feet. It was leaning towards my shop and we were concerned if we tried to cut it would fall on the shop. The other was an oak that had been hit by lightening a few years prior to me buying the place. It was close to the power line. Max, the neighbor on the other side of me, spent a couple decades cutting trees for a living but is in no shape to be doing that business now. He said that oak would come down in at least three pieces and there was no telling which direction any of it would come down. This actually prompted bringing in the tree cutter with his bucket truck.

Friday promised to be a good day for working on this stuff. Weather was great, especially for a day in February. About 40 degrees at 8am and got to almost 60 by the end of the day. I changed from my work uniform into home work clothes. This meant jeans, t-shirt, button down work shirt, and steel toed work boots traded for jeans, t-shirt, button down work shirt, and steel toed work boots. My company pays for my uniforms so I don’t feel it is right to tear them up at home. I grabbed a cup of coffee, changed the chain on my saw, gassed it up and topped off the bar oil reservoir. Threw it all in the truck (saw, fuel, oil, bar wrench and chain sharpening file) refilled my cup and went to play with my friends.

We are giving almost all of the wood to Max. He uses an Outdoor Wood Burning furnace. Wood is burned in a firebox outside of the house which heats a water reservoir. The heated water circulates into the furnace. The air blows over the hot water coil. The air absorbs the heat and blows out into the house. Same way a gas fired furnace works which is what us “industry pros” call a direct heat whereas Max’s furnace is an indirect heat. It is a very good system and something that I am looking at putting as a backup or “off grid” option for my house. For now, the propane is a better option for me.

I say almost all of the wood because I plan to keep about a “rick” for my wood burner in my shop and the smaller sticks will be used in my smoke house (when I get it built). A “cord” of firewood is a stack of wood that measures (about) 4 feet deep x 4 feet high x 8 foot long – stacked neatly and compactly. It is 128 cubic feet of compactly stacked firewood. A “rick” is 1/3 of a cord. Typically, cut and split firewood is cut between 16 and 20 inches, with 16 inches being the “standard”. A “rick” would then be 4’x4’x16”. I do not know how many cord of wood would typically be used over the winter, but if you cut your own wood it can be a very cost-effective method of heating. Wood heat is very common in this part of the country. Back home (Southwest Kansas) it is not as practical because we just don’t have the trees.

Friday, we cut up two of Art’s trees and my oak. We got the tops – the smaller branches – moved to the burn pile. I worked until about 3pm. At that point I had been awake for about 20 hours and I hit that proverbial wall. A good day’s work and well-earned sleep to end it. Saturday, Art was over at about 7am burning the brush pile. We had a little rain Friday night so it was great timing to burn. Less chance of setting the whole yard on fire. I got the two boys up and out and we started on the hickory. Got all the tops moved to the fire and would have got the tree cut up but I cut in at the wrong angle and damaged my chain. Max’s son and grandson showed up around 9am to cut up the large trunk pieces of the oak and to start hauling it to Max’s wood pile. About noon I had to call it a day – I had to work Saturday night.

Good, hard work shared among neighbors creates friends. We all had a good time. Joking with each other, sharing stories – probably mostly lies (except mine were all true enough) – and all while making my place safer and helping out Max. So, remember, if you hear your neighbor running a chainsaw go see what they are doing. They may welcome the help.

February

I am a little late in this post, but life happens. I hope that as this blog/public journal continues you, my readers, will see that I am a man who neither accepts excuses nor makes excuses. When I feel appropriate I will offer an explanation as to why I prioritized one task over another – noted that this may be seen as a type of excuse, which I guess is true enough.

One of the purposes I stated that my blog will serve is to be a way of being accountable for my goals. I will post my monthly goals, well, monthly. We are now seven days into February and I have not done this. It has been 7 days since my last post of any kind. I am aiming to post something twice a week, so I have stumbled on that goal already.

Currently, I work a 3rd shift job. I am a senior Refrigeration Operator at a chicken processing facility. Recently I was “promoted” to Process Safety Management (PSM) Coordinator. I was hired (2 years ago at the end of this month) for 1st shift but due to staffing issues I was needed on 3rd shift. The plant I work at is brand spanking new, we just started running in 2016. I was the first refrigeration operator hired. As one of three qualified senior operators (this just means that I am well experienced and trustworthy) I was tasked with developing shut down and start up procedures for our new plant. No one had done this here yet and it required someone with experience. Three experienced operators have taken four green rookies and built a working, though still growing and learning, refrigeration crew. I will soon be transferring my Senior position to another operator and moving into the role I was hired to fill originally. I was hired to fill the PSM role, but we knew that would be a secondary role until things were running and we were staffed with qualified operators. In the mean time we used a contractor for the PSM. However, the operator that will be the new 3rd shift senior operator is out on a medical leave. This leaves me and the other 3rd shift guy working seven days a week. I have been working my PSM job, while also performing the Senior operator duties – kind of like a shift lead. That leaves me with little time for things like blogging.

Since I have a meeting in the morning that will keep me at the plant until much later than I would leave I decided to go in an hour later and write this. I normally work 10pm to 7am, tomorrow I will be there until at least 10am.

Ok I have rambled on enough. February goals: (in no particular order)

  1. Create/Develop a personal mission statement

Habit #2 in the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is “Begin with the End in Mind”. Mr. Covey recommends developing a personal mission state to help get and keep the important things in mind. The personal mission statement is a guide, a set of goals, it is the documented “Me” I want to be.

According to Mr. Covey, an effective goal focuses on the results rather than the activity. It identifies where you want to be and can show you where you are presently. It tells you how to get “there” and lets you know when you have arrived. It unifies your efforts and energy. An effective goal translates daily activity into a proactive being that enables you to fulfill your personal mission statement.

  1. Read (at least) 30 minutes every day

I have set the goal to read two books this month. One personal development (in addition to 7 Habits) or something of historical value – like a biography from one of the founding fathers. One spiritual development(ish); something about Heathenism. The more important goal here is to read everyday for at least 30 minutes.

  1. Write in my (private) Journal everyday

Here is where I do my deeper introspection, rant about things I don’t need to publish, maybe a little ego stoking or ego dampening (this is more likely) … Just a general journal to record my thoughts. I may share of this, most I won’t.

  1. Finalize the garden plans

This is our second season on our “Farmstead”. Last season we were just moving in, doing some remodeling and making this house our home. We didn’t plant anything last year. This year we will have a garden again. I need to get everything ready so that we can plant in time. This will mean building grow beds, turning the soil where we will be planting directly in the ground. It will also mean needing to finalize the decisions on what will be grown. It will also mean converting the old chicken coop into a nursery for our seedlings. The people before us had partitioned off a section of the shop and used that as a chicken coop. I will be using it as a garden shed/nursery.

We will also be building a new chicken coop and getting our chickens this year. I want to get the plans finalized for this project. The new chicken coop will also have a run/yard enclosed for the chickens. We have too many threats to let them free range, unfortunately.

  1. 8 blog posts

Keeping with the idea of 2 posts a week and 4 weeks this should be doable. I will probably utilize the daily prompt word.

Tuesday my neighbor and I brought down two trees in my yard – well we had a professional to get them. He had three or four trees on his property that were too big for us to bring down on our own and I had two that were to dangerous to bring down. One hickory was rotted on the lower part of the trunk and leaning towards my shop. If we tried to do it there was a strong chance of it landing on my shop. The other was an oak that had been struck by lightening a few years before I bought the land. That one was going to come down in three (or more) pieces and was too close to the house and power lines. So, over the next couple weeks we will be processing all 5 or 6 trees for fire wood for our other neighbor. They are in their 70s and not in great health. They have a wood furnace – pretty nifty set up. I may look into setting one up for my house. Maybe look at combining that with a radiant floor heat system… Anyway. We are going to stock them up with wood for next year. I will be keeping a little for my smoke house, but most will be going to the neighbor’s.

Why?

I don’t make new year’s resolutions. Mostly because those always seem to be doomed to fail. Something in my psyche that just doesn’t mesh with this type of resolution. Probably the fact that most of the times that I made resolutions I was cramming some idea in before midnight. Some concept I thought I was supposed to have of who I should become. New year, new me! Bullshit. New year, same ole me but I wrote some list and now I have something to feel guilty about the whole year. I stopped doing this about 10 years ago. I replaced the resolutions with a list of goals…yeah, I know, semantics. Over the last 10 years I have accomplished maybe 3 of the 100(ish) goals I have set for myself for the new year.

In 2016 I began a new chapter in my life. We moved from Kansas to Arkansas. New job for me, great offer and opportunity that I couldn’t pass on. I loved my last job. I liked my co-workers and my boss was probably the best boss I have ever had. This job was worth the loss of that. In March of 2017 we closed on a piece of land – 5 acres with a nice (but small) house. I have wanted a small farmstead type of place for a while and I finally got what I wanted.

This lead me to realize that my sedentary lifestyle of procrastination would not get anything done around my little potential farmstead. Now, this was not a new realization this one just came with a little more motivation to actually take action. Along with this I began to see that I was becoming negative minded, complaining about situations at work – allowing my self to choose the victimhood mentality. This awakening prompted me to make changes. I pulled out some books I have had for a long time and began studying again.

You do not need the books to change your life. A decision and action are what you need. To decide that you will make changes and then do it. So, don’t think I am promoting a dependence on anything outside of myself for my growth and change. Charlie “tremendous” Jones’ famous quote applies here – “You will be the same person in 5 years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.” I understand that I can make happen what I want without the books and spiritual growth – I don’t want to be the same person I am right now. I want to grow, intellectually and spiritually.

In December 2017 I decided to make a thought out, realistic, set of goals for 2018. I began with some tools: A custom planner, the book by Stephen R. Covey, and an attitude of getting it done. This blog is for accountability. If I publish this to the world I have to be accountable to everyone who reads this blog (hopefully someone reads it).

The list of goals for 2018 will expand – as one project is accomplished another one will be added. Projects will be added to the list whether one is done or not – that is the nature of living this lifestyle we are trying to accomplish: debt free and self-sustainable are the ultimate goals – but that is a 10-year plan. So here are the basic goals for 2018:

Create a project list when one project is accomplished replace it with another one – always have something that needs done and always be completing the projects

o   Break down the projects to schedule them each month/weekend

o   Add projects as they are presented

o   Prioritize the projects

  • Need
  • Saves money
  • Saves energy
  • Emergency use
  • Animal related (chicken coop)
  • Want
  • Anything that doesn’t meet the need criteria
  • Daily tasks

o   Read 30 minutes (or more)

  • Try for 3 non-fiction books a month
  • Something work related
  • Something spiritually related
  • Something in the self-development genre
  • Historical biography or history related
  • Philosophy oriented

o   Write in my journal

o   Work on a blog post

o   Exercise

  • Start in January
  • Push ups
  • Sit ups
  • Squats
  • Weekend (days off) tasks

o   Choose a project and complete it – or get as much done as I can in the days off.

  • Get some fishing/camping in this summer
  • By the end of the year

o   Build a chicken coop and get chickens

o   Insulate the house – seal up the drafts

o   Replace the heating system in our house

o   Get the generator set up

  • Shed for generator
  • Switch installed for switching to generator
  • Tie propane to the generator for longer use

o   Well house on solar power

o   Garden planted/set up

o   Build table for the wife

 

This list is not finished, and I will expand on it over the course of this year. I plan to combine some of the activities. For example, when we built the chicken coop I will write some blogs posts on that experience. I plan to use the blog to stay accountable to the plan and will write updates as things progress.