Cutting It Down

Dr. Farmer Moomin’s First Tree!

It may be winter, but we have no snow. At the moment we are dealing with temperatures in the 50s. Only last week it hit 65 degrees in Antarctica. And when that ice is gone all life on earth goes with it. This is why we are here. It is why we became homesteaders. We must as a society change how we are living. The definition of crazy is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. So, we made a change. And here we are struggling hard like always to make a go of this place.

I want to briefly discuss something we turn to for inspiration. No one has paid me any money to write this paragraph. Nor do they need to. I write this because of what it has meant to us watching from here on our 5 acre homestead. We have been watching the Raney Family, of Alaska, fixing homesteads all over the country. Watching Mr. Raney, even inspired my husband, to take down a tree. He wedged it then chopped it down. This is a proud homesteading wife moment. To watch your husband step up and take down something so much bigger than himself. It never would have happened, without the tv show Homestead Rescue. So a shout out to the Raney Family, THANK  YOU for what you do. I don’t know you but the way your show is inspiring my husband makes me truly grateful. I am not sure of the network it might be discovery…. But  if you are into homesteading and you don’t know this show, it has inspired  both myself and my husband and the information we get watching it has often proved of great value to us. So I wanted to mention it.

Nothin’ but a wicked cool stump. I said wicked, I am from new england, you can bite me twice.

A few days ago, my husband purchased himself his first and very own chain saw. He ran a cord, and I stood outside by the wisteria, and took pictures. This was a first for us cutting down a tree. Good news no one died. Bad news someone COULD die if you don’t do it right. We cut this  down after 5 seasons of tv instruction from  the Raneys. We encourage others to do the same or to  hire someone trained or to get trained themselves before they try to do anything like this. As I said, you go wrong someone can be injured or killed. I am not giving directions here how to cut down trees. But I wanted to discuss what it was like for us, and what you can learn from chopping down trees. I advise against taking down healthy trees unless they are some kind of hazard. But dead trees fair game if you know what you are doing.

Felled and cut in large chunks.

Once the tree was felled everything  else has been easy. My husband cut it into large sections and set it up to dry so we will have firewood from our own trees next winter.


I had him cut me several pieces that I will sand and then finish, so they  can be coasters in our living room. I am hoping to get a nice cutting board from this tree also. Partly, cuz it is such a special moment it should be commemorated. Partly, cuz, I like to craft. Partly cuz to buy a cutting board of the size I want and of the material I want in the condition I want….. I would have to spend a couple hundred dollars. So some savings  there.

If we wanted, we could have it milled, and use it to build a barn or any number of other structures. Save ourselves a small fortune on purchasing the wood itself, for these projects. But that is the thing isn’t it? Time is money. Cutting down trees is not time consuming only dangerous. It’s the clean up after the fact that is time consuming.

Debris Field

Another thing you can do with a tree, is something called dendrochronology. dendro, means tree related. Chronology basically means one damn thing happening after another quite literally. So it is another way to look at the history of the homestead. What has the rainfall historically been like? And the snow? Do I find  anything in the tree rings indicating pestilence at some time  in the tree’s history? What can the tree tell me about the land I am standing on?  The answer is, quite a bit. And a lot of it important information for homesteaders to have. Because the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. So how has the climate effected the homestead historically? From tree rings, you can if you have some idea how to read them, gather some really helpful and useful information from the trees that you chopped down.

Tree Rings

You need a fairly strong magnifying glass to really do tree ring readings properly, but even just eye balling it, I have learned within  the last 12 years we had a drought. I also see some water rot…. So at times I can tell too we have had more than ample rains,  and also deep snows. It is overall a reasonably healthy tree.

Archaeologists,  use this method. It not an exact dating method, but it is still more reliable than most of the unexact methods out there. What they do is drill into the center of the tree and take what is known as a “core” sample. They send it to the lab  and learn the rough age, and climactic conditions in the region…. Sometimes evidence of weather disasters, and other stuff can be found in core samples. This information is critical for archaeologists to have in order to reconstruct what the life style and conditions would have been like for ancient peoples in many regions of the world. Which is why I am familiar with it. Here is another photo of another stump we created yesterday. Half of it is illegible. But what do you see when you look at it?

Tree Rings

It was a special moment for us, cutting down our first tree. It  made us feel like we were on our way just a bit more. I am just glad we had a chainsaw. Doing it the old way would have been rough. This was a special experience for another reason also.

When we chopped down this dead tree, we wrote on the canvas of our homestead. We changed the landscape. We impacted our land…  We drew on the blank piece of paper that is ours and only ours. The kind of high that comes from that is truly a special and earned feeling. It is literally playing God with the nature that surrounds you.

Thank you for joining me on this lovely homesteading journey.
I am so glad we now won’t freeze to death next winter, because looking at those tree rings….. Though we had a dud of a winter this year, historically they have been pretty serious.
But this is New England… I don’t need tree rings to tell me we get serious winter, still, it’s cool to get to look at it this way.
Amanda Of Wildflower Farm

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