Adventures In Sawyering
Back in the day, my Uncle Orrin used to cut firewood on his few hundred acre farm in Otisville, NY this way - with a two man crosscut saw (also called a “misery saw” for all the human energy required by the sawyers). That was well before chain saws became widely available.
Shortly after we moved into our Oracle home in 1979 one of our neighbors proposed heading to the San Pedro Valley to cut up some mesquite for fires on cold nights. "OK", I say, having no clue what I’m getting in to. (The two man “misery” saw of course was long obsolete.) Being unfamiliar with chain saws I looked forward to learning. So my generous neighbor (Ted Johnson) showed me what’s what and, when we got to where dead and down mesquite were plentiful, we traded off doing the cutting (well, he did most of it). The power of the chain saw kind of blew me away. In short order the bed of my 1971 Dodge half ton was full up. Its three speed on the column/slant six labored mightily returning up hill to Oracle but we made it safe and sound.
After that, sold on chainsawing, I bought an old one from Darrell Klesch (scrupulously maintained of course) and went about cutting up dead trees and limbs on our property. It turned out there was as much oak as we could possibly burn to heat our living room and enjoy regular fires. (And that was before the wrack and ruin caused by climate change accelerated die back.)
When Darrell’s hand me down punked out I bought a McCullough which did the job for many years then graduated to a Stihl MS 250.
I never thought of chain saws as particularly dangerous until Kaz read me a story about a guy trying to cut a limb over his head who laid his skull wide open instead. He was found dead in a pool of blood by his wife . It was reported that he likely lost control as the saw kicked back and he paid the ultimate price.
There are plenty of ways to get hurt using a chain saw but the closest I came to lethal injury cutting wood was with a pole saw. Not a power pole saw mind you but one of the muscle driven jobs. I was cutting away at a limb over my head with a sturdy step ladder strategically placed to protect some plant life underneath. That’s when a little voice suggested I step back a bit. Which I did. Right then with one more stroke of the saw the oak limb snapped and dropped straight down - all several hundred pounds of it - making a dent in the top of the very robust ladder - evidence of what would have been a knock out blow had it been my head on the receiving end. Nowadays every time I pull that ladder out I’m reminded of what might have happened had that little voice gone unattended.
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Kaz and I moved to Oracle in 1979. The house we bought dated to the late 1940s. With little advance knowledge of the place, we set out to build a new life together, intending to settle in and raise a family.