Friday, August 31, 2012

We are cedar choppers!

What a slacker I’ve been. I can only claim summer as an excuse, though the date would indicate that summer is about over. GET TO WORK, SISTER!

This coming weekend marks a year since the Labor Day fires in Bastrop. Numerous fires sprang up that weekend, and we spent a nervous few days frequently scurrying upstairs to peer out the windows, watching for smoke nearby. As you may recall, I vowed to clear brush away from our house. (See Snow White and Me.)

Yesterday my oldest son and I worked on the west side of our house, where the cedar (Ashe juniper to be precise) stood close by, looming ominously over the driveway.  He has worked out there several days, but this time I helped by dragging brush and stacking firewood.

Walker is a U.S. Forest Service-certified sawyer, courtesy of a summer spent maintaining trails with the forest service in South Dakota. I am the proud owner of a chainsaw, but I’m not certified. Perhaps certifiable . . . oh, let’s not go there. Suffice it to say that we deemed it wiser for him to handle the dangerous equipment.

It looks so nice out there now. We are not deforesting the area, simply lifting the canopy, as fire would do if we (by that I mean Americans in general) could let fires race through periodically to burn the underbrush.

These two sad live oaks are right outside my office
window. The one in front has a few leaves,
but is not long for this world.
Last evening, sunlight angled through sparser foliage and illuminated patches of green grass and brown mulch here and there. This effect is my favorite part of clearing (after the part where our house doesn’t burn down in a wildfire).

Next on the chainsaw agenda:  Lots of trees - cedar and live oak - succumbed to the drought. Cedars continue to die, despite the rains that fell over the winter.  We need to take the dead trees down and process them into firewood-sized pieces.

Good thing there’s a certified sawyer in the house.

Favorite spot in the garden:

My garden looks grim right now. We’ve had no appreciable rain since July 15. The days are long and hot. I have been watering enough to keep things alive (maybe), but not enough to keep things show-worthy.

However, the tried and true flame acanthus (Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii) continues to bloom gaily, enticing hummingbirds to linger outside my office window. Even the volunteer plants, which receive no supplemental water, are blooming, though not as prolifically as the one in my bed (which does get roof run-off, when it rains). By the way, I have watered it once this summer.  That’s right, once.


  1. I saw the coolest thing when we were vacationing, and I wonder if you've seen them.... this guy had an electric lopper with like chainsaw jaws. not sure this is the same one I saw, but here's the name of a similar thing on amazon, so you can see a pic. Black & Decker LP1000 Alligator Lopper 4.5 Amp Electric Chain Saw. We used it while I was there, and all three that used it really liked it. The guy that owns it loves it. Apparently very safe, or at least relatively so.

  2. What a difference a little clearing of the brush makes - that area is just gorgeous now! I am very afraid of chainsaws (my dad loves them and is always hurting himself with them) so I have a few dead trees still hanging around. I just say they're for the woodpeckers! :)

    1. We could have a woodpecker civilization in ours. However, we also need firewood for the stove, so cutting is needed. Thanks for stopping by!