A few years ago, if someone had told me, “Someday you will own a chainsaw”, I would have politely recommended that they seek help from a medical professional, as there was no way that this city boy would ever own a chainsaw.
Never say never.
Here we are… living in the country and I now own a chainsaw… not out of frivolity, but out of necessity.
I have to admit it, I really enjoy using the chainsaw (but just to clarify, not in a horror movie kind of way).
We are most fortunate to be living on a beautiful tree-lined lot, surrounded by many mature trees. However, it doesn’t take a violent storm to generate an assortment of fallen twigs and branches across our lawn. A gentle breeze is all it takes, which is pretty much a daily event.
Last year, I wrote about how living in the country had become a nonstop game of “Pick-up sticks”. Every day, I was outside picking up branches and sticks. It wasn’t a complaint, as I was enjoying the fresh air and sunshine while doing it, it was just an observation. However, it was something that I had never experienced while living in my condo in the city. The most cleanup I ever had to do there was picking up garbage produced by my fellow humans or unscooped doggie waste, but never branches.
Here, in the country, the big question is what to do with the branches, when you don’t own a wood stove or fireplace. Letting them accumulate is not an option, as these make great shelters for rodents who may opt later to move up the property ladder and sneak into the house. Disposing of the branches is the only option, but the sanitation department will not take them as-is. The branches need to be broken down.
With the number of branches we have to process on a regular basis, pruning shears and hand saws just won’t cut it, please forgive the pun.
The first sign we needed help in this regard was over our first winter. Our snow plow operator asked us to remove one branch that was hanging over the driveway, creating an obstruction for his vehicle. I grabbed the only saw that we had unpacked to that point and started sawing, and sawing and sawing. Of course this had to be the dullest blade in the house (or the village for that matter), but Covid-19 restrictions and lockdowns did not leave me many alternatives for getting this task completed expeditiously.
When the branch finally fell to the ground, I thought to myself, “There has to be an easier way.”
When non-essential businesses started reopening, the first tool we investigated was a pruning saw in the form of a small chainsaw on a pole to help remove branches, right off the trees. A tool like this is helpful to prevent them from falling at a less than ideal time or worse yet, on a parked car, a human or a pet out for a leisurely stroll.
As soon as we purchased it, my partner was a little afraid that my Type A personality would surface and trim off every dying branch on the property.
Admittedly, I did hold back. I realized that branches, dead or alive, all serve a purpose for the wildlife, as a place to rest, a place to nest or as a highway overpass for squirrels and chipmunks. My rule of thumb is that I will wait until a branch has snapped and is perpendicular to the ground before taking out the pruning saw to finish the job.
But for big branches that already hit the ground, a different tool was needed as the pole made it very difficult to get the right leverage for cutting.
We started by getting a little sawhorse specifically designed for positioning and securing branches to get them ready for the chainsaw.
Next came shopping for the chainsaw itself. Who knew that there were so many options out there?
What seemed to be the best fit for us was to get one that was in the same line as the rest as our electric garden tools, to be able to use the same battery system.
In the interest of self-sufficiency, given the size of our mature trees, we did not limit ourselves to the smallest model. We figured that a chainsaw with a ten inch blade (still considered a “pruning chainsaw”) would likely serve us better should we ever encounter a weather event resulting in an abundance of fallen branches of all sizes.
For me, it seemed heavy duty enough, but not so heavy or awkward that I would be prone to tipping over. Plus, it was also light and nimble enough that I likely wouldn’t need to apply Voltaren to my arms over the next several days.
When I tried it out for the first time, I was beyond delighted at how a quick zip here and quick zip there was all it took to bring a handful of branches to a manageable size within a few minutes. The chainsaw went through them like a warm knife through butter. No handsaw could do that.
After the purchase, as the weeks went by, I started wondering how we ever lived without a chainsaw, as it was called into action quite regularly.
For any task that the pruning shears can’t handle, it is just like a reflex now: I take out the chainsaw to take care of the job.
As a result, we have been making considerable progress in getting the yard under control and to our liking.
When planning the transition from city life to rural life, I can’t say that I ever envisioned myself morphing into an entry-level lumberjack to keep excess branches under control. But as a homeowner with a sense of pride and an interest in keeping things neat and tidy, our modest little chainsaw has been an indispensable addition to our yard tools.
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