Heaps and Heaps of downed trees stacked 30 feet high can be seen on Let’s Grow Farm for almost 1500 feet. These trees are what remain after loggers cleared 10 acres of forest, ordered by the previous owner in preparation for selling the place. In 2021, one of my primary tasks has been sawing the downed trees into smaller pieces for firewood, as well as burning the thinner branches and brush to clear the space.
Before I purchased the land for Let’s Grow Farm, the previous owner had downed 10 acres of trees to make the purchase more appealing for potential buyers like myself. This saved me lots of time, money and energy. It also means the land came with nearly a lifetime supply of wood, and many years of meaningful work running a chainsaw and lighting fires. This is like a dream come true to me! Not only do I have abundant wood resources that will last for many years, but there are few ways I’d rather spend my time than doing those two tasks.
In this article, I’ll give you an update on what’s been up at the farm and the next steps I must take in order to make my dreams a reality. First we’ll talk about brush burning, then chainsawing. I’ve created a short video for each task to give you an insiders view of our day to day operations.
Burning Brush to Clear the Land
Since I was a kid I’ve been fascinated with fire. My friends and I lit fires, fireworks, molitov cocktails and even small propane tanks (don’t try this at home, kids) many times, in an open field near a forest where we’d regularly go biking. Thankfully nobody was hurt during any of it.
When I was 18 years old I enrolled in a course at Lambton College called Fire Science, which gives you the paper needed to apply to become a firefighter. Once in the course, I quickly realized that firefighting was about putting out the fire when all I really wanted to do was light fires and watch them burn.
That’s why buying 15 acres that included literally 1500 linear feat of full-sized downed trees piled 30 feet high is such a dream come true to me. Not only is the wood an amazing resource that I can use to heat the floors in my Earthship home using a wood-fired boiler, and also run the wood stove for cooking in winter, but it’s also a virtually endless supply of fuel to do what I’ve always loved to do – light fires. Fire is an amazing force that can be used to make enormous tasks simple, like converting about a million pounds of wood into ash with the single strike of a match.
Below is a short video clip I made recently lighting a pile of sticks and branches, which was about 10 feet tall, 30 feet long and 15 feet wide.
Chainsawing Logs for Firewood
First of all, learning how to use a chainsaw is one of the scariest things I’ve ever done! It’s far scarier than learning how to use a shotgun because with a shotgun you’re not likely to shoot yourself. With a chainsaw, one slip and you could get a spinning, razor sharp blade in the leg or even in the forehead which could easily kill or cripple you forever.
Thankfully it was only scary the first time I fired up my chainsaw, and I made it through without sawing off my leg. I’ve pushed passed the fear and am now comfortable, and a little more competent running my brand new chainsaw.
Since all the trees I’m sawing up have already been chopped down and don’t need to be felled, I’ve quickly learned a number of techniques to ensure that once you slice through the log, it doesn’t pinch your chainsaw bar and stall the chain.
Here are a few tips I’ve learned for when cutting big longs on their side in case you want to start chainsawing:
- Start at one end of the log, not in the center (or once you cut through the logs will pinch)
- When possible, put another log underneath the one you’re cutting to raise it up off the ground
- Never run your chainsaw into the dirt (it’s the quickest way to dull the blade)
- Cut 1/3 up or down and then finish from the other direction to avoid pinching
- Keep the logs you’re cutting flat to avoid chain pinching
Sometime within the next few days I’ll embed a video below of me chainsawing up some logs so you can see me in action.
As I work on taking care of the downed trees on the land, behind the scenes I’m working with my engineers and building officials to get the permit to build our earthship home. Also soon I’ll be bringing in the boys from Tackaberry Construction, who built our driveway earlier this year, to flatten and prep the building site for our Earthship.
Lots of big and exciting changes coming soon to the farm! Be sure to sign up to our newsletter and you’ll be the first to know when I publish new articles and videos documenting our progress.