Well, yesterday was the big day. Grandpa and I finally rolled a log onto the bed of the sawmill from the skidway he had constructed, and I fired up the Kohler on the mill with loads of excitement and apprehension. Everyone cleared back, although my faithful photographer stayed in close for some great action shots.
I spent the better part of two or three hours, flipping logs, moving my mill head up and down, sawing logs, checking boards for square and consistency (both of which eluded me very consistently.)
I did end up with a small stack of eight foot long two by fours. Delightfully – true two by fours! My nominal size and finished size were likely to be very close to the same figure – just like our house in Kitchener :).
Of course, they are only my practise boards. They will likely be used to put up the awesome surplus canvas tent I received from my dojo as a parting gift – while it looks to be a great tent, it probably can deal with some supports that are less than square.
Then it came time to deal with the tractor again. I spent an hour or two in the evening yesterday trying to even out the main trail through our property using soil and gravel from our small private pit, before I shattered the handle of my spade, cutting my hand up enough for me to call it a day. The thought of the stability of the tractor weighed heavy on my mind last night. I was up until well after midnight, researching tractor tipping points, and rollover protection options. I will continue to look into rollover protection for the tractor, but in the meantime, I will simply refuse to do things that make me uncomfortable. We took on this venture to have fun and learn to relax – so losing sleep over this situation needs to be put aside.
Of course, today I arose bright eyed and bushy tailed. Actually, I was a bit reluctant to get to it this morning. Grandpa and I got started by eight, and I cut my teeth on chainsawing some real sized trees. I brought down three close to our driveway, and then Grandpa declared that he could handle it from there. I ventured back to the gravel pit to continue on my project of leveling off the trail for added tractor comfort.
Donna, Kenny and Mummu all pitched in to help clear the gravel pit of “swamp weed” (we’ll try to figure out what it really is called later…) And together we managed to level off a fair amount of the trail.
Grandpa appeared around lunch hour, eager to get started on loading the big logs on the sawmill for supporting the yurts. We decided to go with 6, 16′ beams under the yurts. 16′ is a bit easier to manipulate in the bush, and we can take slightly smaller trees for that.
We already had two or three good candidates down near the saw, so we brought the tractor around, with the intention of using it to load the beams onto the skidway. After very little bobbing and dipping, I declared that I had had enough. Grandpa volunteered to load them on, and after my 1 minute instruction in how to use the tractor, he was off.
I am pretty sure he has 20-100 times the nerve that I do. He didn’t seem to flinch, as he loaded up the beams on the front end loader, proceeded to back up and down slopes that I wouldn’t attempt unladen, and it didn’t seem to cause him the least concern to lift a back wheel now and again. I felt profoundly outclassed. He either was supremely skilled, or… something else.
We were able to load one beam with the loader, but the next two were less co-operative. Grandpa used the tractor in some tight corners to drag one of the beams to the skidway, where he then lifted it on the loader. The other beam we just manhandled to the mill.
Later, we headed back to the gravel pit, where we noted a great candidate beam leaning high on a hill. Grandpa was sure he could back the tractor up the hill, and, in spite of hidden stumps and hazards, he started backing up. When the tractor got close to what I would think was a 30 degree angle, and I was totally certain he was about to tip, he finally relented, and brought it back to the path. I suppose on the plus side, I know that it can go far, far beyond my comfort point. I’ll try to carry that with me.
We climbed the hill, where I downed two good trees, so now we just have to find one more beam for the yurts. We decided we would just have to figure out a way to winch the trees off the hill and down to the tractor. It began to rain, which was a great chance for me to head to town. I managed to accomplish a number of errands in the two hours I had been allotted (before supper was to be served). I got to a credit union to rePIN my card (yes I forgot my PIN number). I deposited a few business cheques, withdrew some badly needed cash, and headed to “ToolTown” – where I picked up some magnetic levels (to attach to the tractor naturally – extra feedback), and a hand powered winch. Then I hit up Canadian Tire for some extra winch cables – serendipity! They were on sale! I bought two, which I will connect together, giving me hopefully 60 or more feet of winching capability.
On the way back to the in-laws, I managed to update my car ownership information, and even pick up a birthday present for Kenny (some more Lego on sale at Zellers).
I still felt a bit bummed out when I got back for supper… Feeling so uncomfortable on the tractor is a bit of a liability, but one that we’ll surely work through. The bush trails up here are pretty rough in places, and she has a very narrow wheelbase that is proving to be as much a liability as a feature.
Washing dishes with Donna and talking to her about how I felt and possible solutions was by far the best therapy though. I look forward to the chance to wash up dishes and chat with her, as so far we haven’t had loads of opportunities to connect – our chores don’t always coincide geographically, and, in the evenings, at least one of us is always ready to just fall straight asleep.
I’d love to hear any other anecdotes or stories about being nervous about something new, that turned out well in the end. Please, comment or email me if you have the time or inclination!