As the fall progressed and the sun began to get lower and lower in the sky, I really began to take notice of the trees as they started to shade my solar panels.
At first I just accepted that it was happening and figured that things would work out. But now I clearly understand how bad any shade can be for a solar power system.
One group of three trees especially stood out in the fall – a triangle of poplar that threw well over an hour of shade on the panels every morning. Oh how I waited and prayed for the leaves to just fall! Finally – they did. Just as the sun dropped below the crown of the trees anyway on its transit. Sigh. (I think this lifestyle has caused me to sigh rather a bit.)
So it was with no real sense of loss or impending loss when Grandpa suggested that they could be pressed into service as a sled to skid beams from the sawmill to our building sites during the upcoming winter.
I set to work felling them, which went better than usual. I don’t want to be premature, but I think I’m getting the hang of felling trees bit by bit. The poplar without any leaves on it is actually much easier to limb than even the jackpine here. The branches are even fewer and farther between, and grow out more from the trunk and one another, so there is more space to get the blade of the power saw in.
As it turns out, the largest one had already begun some rot in the bottom, so it was time for it to make room for the seedlings and saplings in the area.
I skidded them over to the sawmill and under Grandpa’s careful supervision set to work turning them into a sleigh.
First I cut a bevel on one end of two of the logs. Then Grandpa used the hatchet to smooth off any ugly knots, as well as four spots for our cross-pieces to rest on.
I had a partially finished beam on the mill already, and for our purposes, partially finished was enough – I cut it into a three and four foot length.
Using some 10″ spikes my father had given me, we fastened the three foot beam across the back of the two log runners. At the front, we centred the four foot beam across the front, leaving six inches of overhang on either side.
You want the runners to be parallel – it will certainly travel more smoothly that way. The overhang allows us to fasten one of my skidding chains around the front beam to drag the sled with the tractor.
Grandpa was very careful to set the whole thing up on some scrap slabs – unlike me, he had the foresight to see that just resting on the ground, the sled would be sure to freeze in place the first time the temperature goes above and then back below zero.
I figured I should cut up some more boards to cover it with, then add two or three straw bales, and we can have sleigh rides and hot chocolate!