Our seven hens are only producing about three eggs per day now, so I guess they’re getting long in the tooth … er, beak. At some point it will be time to start converting them into chicken dinners. That means we’ll have to learn how to de-feather and process chickens. Too bad my great-grandparents are all gone. That’s what they did in those days; go out back and choose a chicken for dinner.
Our 18 chicks are growing rapidly, but aren’t yet ready for prime time. The picture below is of them all huddling together as far away from the camera as they could get. Apparently they believe a camera is some kind of chicken-killing contraption.
Once we sacrifice our current egg-layers, some of these chicks will probably live in the barn. But the plan is to raise most of them in portable chicken houses and move them around the land. Chareva has made quite a bit of progress on her first chicken house. Man, there’s something about a good-looking woman using a power drill …
While she’s been constructing, I’ve been destructing. The once-frightening pile of logs is considerably less intimidating now that I’ve had a couple of weekends to perform in my own version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Okay, to be honest, I don’t remember the bad guy in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre driving to a Stihl dealer to find out how he managed to mess up his chainsaw. I’ve done that twice over the course of this project.
The first time, the chain locked up on me and wouldn’t turn even when the engine was running. Turns out I was using the wrong oil to lubricate the bar. I saw these nice little bottles of oil that were (I swear) labeled as chainsaw lubricant, so that’s what I poured into the oil tank. Heh-heh-heh. That’s what happens when longtime city-dwellers move to the sticks and starting playing with power tools. I managed to miss the big orange container of chainsaw bar oil sitting right there next to the chainsaw in our garage. So I was using the oil that’s supposed to be mixed with the gas. Fortunately, I didn’t cause any actual damage.
I saved the actual damage for the screw that tightens the chain. I didn’t realize that before turning that screw, I’m supposed to loosen the nuts on either side of it. I thought those nuts were there just to attach the faceplate. So while trying to tighten a loose chain that wasn’t ready to be tightened, I snapped the screw. Oops.
Both repairs prompted a lesson in the proper care and feeding of chainsaws by a nice older gentlemen at the Ace Hardware/Stihl dealer. After the second repair job I asked him, “So when people like me leave the shop, do you just shake your head and wonder why there are so many idiots in the world?”
“Naaaah,” he answered in his New England accent. “I wasn’t born knowing everything, and I don’t expect you were either.”
In my defense, what I mostly wanted to know when we bought the chainsaw was how to use it without cutting off my own foot. I got that part down right away and forgot the other bothersome details, such as which oil goes in which tank.
Now I at least know enough to get through a weekend of cutting without having to go visit my buddy from New England and ask what I did wrong this time. I’ve also gotten pretty good at recognizing when the chain needs sharpening. (Hint: if there’s no sawdust coming from the log and little puffs of smoke are rising from the cut, the chain isn’t really sawing anymore.)
It was a gorgeous weekend, around 70 degrees and sunny, perfect for outdoor labors. I wasn’t the only one with that opinion. As I was working on Sunday, our nearest neighbor came over, chainsaw in hand. He explained that on days like this, he feels an urge to work outdoors. He heard me sawing away and thought maybe I could use some help. Would I mind?
Mind? Are you kidding me?
I was delighted to have an extra pair of hands and extra saw working on the pile, since I’m feeling a bit of deadline pressure. Two weekends from now, my work buddy Jim Taylor and I are sharing the cost of renting a log-splitter. We’ll split his wood on Saturday and mine on Sunday. I don’t know how quickly those things work, and for all I know, I’ve already cut more logs than we can split in a day. But if it turns out to be quick work, I’d like to have as many of the logs cut up and ready to go as I can.
As I called it a day on Sunday, I thought about the Health.com advice featured in last week’s post … you know, eat your waffles or cereal in the morning and then have a high-carb snack every two hours or so to keep your energy up. Processing that log pile is hard physical work. The chainsaw is heavy, and it takes some pushing and pulling and rocking up and down at my end to get through the thick trunks. After cutting chunks of logs, I have to pick them up and toss them aside to avoid stepping on them while working my way through the pile. Both days qualified as long workouts.
On Saturday, I had ham and eggs for breakfast around 10:00 AM. My next meal was at around 7:00 PM — after I played 18 holes of disc golf to unwind from the day’s chainsaw labors. On Sunday, I had coffee with cream to wake up, then started on the logs. It never occurred to me to stop for lunch. I wasn’t consciously fasting all day; I was just busy and determined to get a lot done and didn’t think about food. So my first meal of the day was dinner (Chareva’s chili). That was around 6:00 PM.
According to the carb-pushers at Health.com, I should have run out of gas by noon. But I didn’t. I didn’t run out of gas until I literally ran out of gas – for the chainsaw, that is. That’s when I called it a day. So I’m pretty sure we ignore the advice from Health.com.