The weather in our part of Tennessee has been, uh, interesting lately. We had a spell in February when the daytime highs reached 70 degrees. Then we had below-freezing days again, including one day with snow.

I assumed that was an unusual weather pattern. But shortly afterwards, I happened to be listening to a book titled Jack Hinson’s One-Man War, which tells the true story of a Tennessee farmer who was a Union loyalist during the Civil War … that is, until two of his young sons went hunting in the woods one day and were captured and executed by Union troops who assumed they were guerilla fighters – simply because they were carrying hunting rifles. After that, Mr. Hinson became a sniper who terrorized Union troops for the remainder of the war. He killed dozens of officers – including the lieutenant who ordered the execution of his sons.

Early in the book, the author mentions that “as often happens in February in Tennessee,” the days were as warm as June days in Iowa. The Yankees assumed spring had arrived and abandoned their heavy wool coats and blankets. A few days later, “as often happens in Tennessee,” winter returned and the Yankees were fighting battles in freezing rain and snow – without their wool coats.

Okay, so the “unusual weather pattern” has been around for at least 150 years.

Along with the wild variations in temperature, we had a tornado touch down in the area one day, and a couple of hellacious thunderstorms with high winds. Last Sunday, I was yanked out of a deep sleep by a BOOM! that seemed to rock the house. Boy, that one must’ve hit pretty close, I thought. Then I went back to sleep.

Turns out the BOOM! knocked down a big ol’ tree.

And as you can see, it landed rather close to the house.

Well, I can’t complain. Shift the angle a few degrees, and that tree would have bashed in the window of my office upstairs. Instead, it landed just outside Sara’s bedroom window. Naturally, the girls had to climb out the window and onto the tree.

So in addition to a film to finish, I now have a big-ass tree to cut up. It’s a pine tree, so we can’t use it for firewood. Chareva wants to save some of the long, heavy branches to serve as barriers around the chicken yards. Perhaps the local predators will be discouraged from digging under the fence. I’ve had to shoot two chicken-killing predators in the past few weeks, so I’m all in favor of discouraging them.

I also have to cut up the tree that fell in our side field awhile back. That one will become firewood.

Meanwhile, Alana took delivery of a new batch of chicks this week.

Some of them are Bantams, which means they’ll grow to perhaps a pound-and-a-half and look something like this:

I asked Alana what purpose a flock of itty-bitty chickens is supposed to serve. It’s not as if we’ll make big breakfasts from their eggs. She ended the discussion with “I wanted Bantams because they’re cute.”

Cute, sure, but I don’t envision them putting up much of a fight against predators. I’d best start cutting up that pine tree to provide Chareva with reinforcements for the chicken yards.

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25 Responses to “The Farm Report: If A Tree Falls In The Forest …”
  1. Another Mike says:

    Pine may be poor indoor firewood, but it works a treat for bonfires on summer evenings.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Yeah, we wouldn’t worry about burning it outside. Just not in the wood-burning stove.

      • Jennifer Snow says:

        Why not? I’d never heard of this before, According to Google (YMMV) Pine is fine for indoor firewood, the issue is that you have to season it first to make sure it’s properly dry, otherwise creosote.

        • Tom Naughton says:

          Hmm, looks like I’ll have to do some research. The bigger portions of this tree are reserved for chicken-yard reinforcements.

          • j says:

            Probably not a statement you thought you’d be making back in your LA days… 😁

            • Tom Naughton says:

              Pretty much nothing about my life is what I pictured back in my L.A. days, other than having a lovely wife and delightful kids. Thank goodness the universe had better plans for me than I did.

  2. Dianne says:

    I live in Texas now, but spent most of my life in Oregon’s beautiful Willamette Valley, where lo-o-o-ong, gray, drippy winters are the norm. Almost every February we’d get a few tantalizing days of false spring, and then the gray and the gloom would move back in until May. Or June. Or July. But we sure had pretty flowers!!

    • Tom Naughton says:

      We probably get the false spring most years and I just forget from year to year. I believe real spring is fast approaching now.

  3. Nancy Wilson says:

    Hi Tom,

    The bantams are usually better flyers than the full sized chickens (although I don’t know about the Silkie bantams). They tend to be more “raccoon proof” than the bigger, slower more earthbound chickens. Even at night, at least that’s been my experience.

  4. Tricia says:

    We’ve been having similar weather in Pennsylvania and had a similar loss of a pine tree near our house a couple of weeks ago. It looks like it might be around the same size. I also want to take care of it ourselves rather than hiring someone to do it. If you don’t mind me asking, what are you planning to use to cut yours up? I thought that a chainsaw was the obvious answer but have had some negative reactions, (mostly from family), when I bring that up.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      I’ve already cut it into pieces. I used a chainsaw. I always gear up before using a chainsaw … protective helmet and protective chaps.

    • BobM says:

      One thing I’ve done is performed some research on how to cut trees before using a chainsaw. I refresh my knowledge, as I don’t want the saw to kick back on me. The other thing is these trees can be unbelievably heavy. I don’t know about pine trees, but we had a deciduous tree that was not that large (maybe 8 or 10 inches in diameter) and not that tall come down. I thought I’d go out and manhandle that tree, moving it to be able to cut it. However, I could not budge that tree. I had to cut it in place, and into smaller pieces, before I could move it.

      • Tom Naughton says:

        I was very careful when cutting up this tree to check which way the pieces would roll. Wouldn’t want a chunk of the trunk rolling into me — especially while I’m holding a running chainsaw.

  5. Walter Bushell says:

    This is March weather typically. “In like a lamb an out like a lion”, but more likely to Repeat ad nauseam
    sub freezing into 50s.
    end

  6. Bruce says:

    Regarding using pine in the fireplace. I was told by my fireplace cleaner guy, the problem with creosote buildup in the fireplace is not because of the use of pine, but in the use of wood that is not seasoned and dry. If you are using seasoned wood that has been kept outside and not covered, there is a good chance it is wet.

    Of course YMMV

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Well, to be on the safe side, I won’t use the pine for firewood. We certainly have enough other options.

  7. Lori Miller says:

    In other news, some people blame global warming for diabetes.

  8. j says:

    Trying out some code..

    Global warming = diabetes /
    >It’s hot outside
    >Too hot to workout
    >Gonna stay inside
    >Minus well have pizza and beer
    repeat x 100
    {diabeetus}

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