Sunday, August 25, 2013

Cutting Poles For The Pole Barn

We're kind of at a standstill on building our little house.  The state certified engineer that is required to certify our leach field hasn't returned any phone calls for three weeks, the architect needs to design our basement as a living space, and we're in the process of getting quotes on finishing digging out the foundation and pouring the walls.  Just as I feared, we're waiting on other people, which means no progress.  So Earl and I moved rocks around in the morning, and in the afternoon decided to start cutting down trees for the pole barn.

"What kind of trees are you going to cut for the poles?" asked Earl.

"I dunno.  Pine trees?" I replied.

"No, you don't want that shit. Pine borers.  You want Maple or Oak."

OK, so I picked a tall scraggly Maple that needed to come down to make room for other trees.

"Too skinny," said Earl.  "You want eight ten inches at least."

So I picked another.  Since both my chain saws were not running (the brand new one needs a coil after running for fifteen minutes total, and the other hasn't run in 30 years so the carburetor probably needs to be cleaned out) Earl fetched his.  Instead of handing it to me, he started cutting.

First, cut a wedge out of the side in the direction that you want the tree to fall.

Then cut the backside of the tree.

Then look in amazement because it fell in the totally wrong direction.

I got Bessie the Tractor, put a chain on the tree, and hauled it out.  Earl limbed it and I hauled it up where the pole barn will go.   Then I picked another Maple behind the rock wall I built that morning.

Earl notches the tree, cuts the back, and again watches in amazement as the tree falls 180 degrees from where it was supposed to go.

I couldn't get to the tree with Bessie, so Earl got Casey the Backhoe to drag it out.  Notice the new Bleecker Mountain Stone Wall (patent pending).

"I'm too old for this shit."

The days here in Bleecker are beautiful, as you can see in the pics.  Sunny and warm.  August is perfect weather in upstate New York, which is probably why the New York Racing Association has its meet in Saratoga every year.  Pam and I fully intended to get to the track this year.  Well, the season isn't over yet, so maybe we'll get there.

One of our blog followers, Thorp, wanted to know about the huge rocks in the foundation that Earl couldn't budge with the backhoe.  Well, that will require dynamite, which is illegal, or earth moving equipment much larger than Casey the Backhoe.  So it will be left up to whomever does the foundation to deal with.

Meanwhile, the leaves are turning and the nights are getting colder.  Our rental Unabomber Cabin can't be lived in in the dead of winter because of the steep driveway.  We're making little progress on our place because other people are moving too slow.  What to do?  Where to live?

We have an option.  I don't want to reveal it here yet... but look for it.  As you Drift Away blog followers know, we don't need much, and what doesn't kill ya makes ya stronger.


  1. Pine? maple? Oak? How about none of the above? Locust or cedar are the only ples acceptable. I assume termites live in Bleecker. If they're not a problem you're worried about, then White Oak might be acceptable. Ask any boatbuilder about wood in contact with wet.



    1. No termites in Bleecker. No sand here, only rocks.

      The way Bleecker folks build pole barns is to dig a hole and bury them in concrete. When the pole rots after 20 years or so, cut off the pole and stick a cinder block under it, and then it's good for another 20 years. And then you die, and so no one cares.

  2. Omg you guys. No helmet..misremembering (or not knowing) how to fell a tree is serious stuff. The helmet is as important as knowing how to cut the wedge and how a cut works...
    Said helmet may have saved my other half last October when a snagged tree sprung and "felled" him, breaking three ribs and collapsed lung. Without a helmet coulda been da end. He's been cutting our firewood for 35+ years without incident.

    I keep thinking about how cozy you two would be at this point if you'd contracted the difficult stuff to people with proper equipment and just finished the place yourself. Sometimes DIY can be a false economy. Sorry but farm folk are practical people who don't have time for this kinda shit!

    1. The big holdup is the plans. The first architect spent two months doing little, and the second needs to design the basement as a living space. No plans, no building permit. No permit, no building.

      The difficult part, removing the huge rocks from the basement, will be contracted out. Even though we don't have any permits yet, we're getting quotes on pouring the foundation. I've already contracted with a well driller.

  3. It's about time for you 5 to be packing to head to Drift Away! Nobody will recognize the new skinny Dave! This hard labor stuff is going to kill ya!