Shortly after the holidays, we found ourselves back into the slab pile, rather than a nice wood pile. Grandpa and I hitched up the tractor and as I mounted up he walked ahead to start cutting down a dead tree we had noted on a previous expedition.
I got to the base of the ravine, stomped on the four wheel drive lever, and scrabbled my way back and forth from one side of our tracks to the other, but made absolutely no forward progress.
After about five minutes, I tried the trick of unhooking the trailer and trying with just the tractor, then hooking up the trailer once the tractor was past the steepest portion. This of course didn’t work.
I walked up to Grandpa to report on things, and I suggested I would go get my comealong from the dojo tent. He agreed, continued cutting, and I returned along the trail.
When I got back I began hooking up the comealong to a nearby tree. Grandpa happened along, and hopped on the tractor. Without blinking an eye, he drove it right past me and the comealong on his first attempt.
Tossing my equipment into the bucket with muted disappointment in my own abilities, we headed up the trail to where he had finished cutting and bucking the tree. It didn’t take long to fill the trailer and return to the yurts where I rounded out the adventure by splitting the larger pieces.
This proved to be some of the best wood we have gotten! It burns twice as long as anything else we have found – a real pleasure, and I feel sad that it’s only one tree and already nearly gone.
Then it was time for Grandpa’s trip to town. I attempted to repeat our performance single-handedly. I got slightly further up the slope, but again was stymied by the slippery slope. This time I cut down all the nearby brush, piling it on the slope and trying to make a rough brush mat trail. This worked a bit, but I still spun the tires just inches short of the crest.
Over the course of the next hour and a half or so, I was able to finally hook up the comealong (which I had sagely brought with me this time), and in a combination of dragging the tractor an inch, then trying to drive it an inch, then dragging it, then driving it, I eventually conquered my mountain!
I cut down a monster jack pine that was unfortunately infested with ants, such that there was no lumber in it, but still much decent firewood.
It was relaxing to finally shut off the saw and carry the logs through the bush and back to the trail. Eventually I got every last one, including the largest one at the stump which had mocked me initially by rolling all the way down the hill to the bottom of the ravine as soon as I cut it. I kept replaying my bible stories of the good shepherd, who, in spite of having all but one of his sheep, spent his time rescuing the lost one. It took me half of my gathering time just to heave that stump back up the ravine to the trail.
I managed to turn the tractor and trailer around at a fork in our trail, which was a boon as it would have been very difficult to disconnect the trailer and turn it by hand with only myself there.
I loaded up the wood, and returned to the yurts amid great fanfare – just kidding – Donna and Kenny had gone to town too, so there was no one to share my victory with.
I split what I had brought and put it in the woodshed to join the previous load. The shed now has enough wood to carry us well into February (hopefully), so I can shift priorities for a short while.