splitting

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An update on the past few work days in the cucalyptus grove on campus…which included this past Friday.

Work continued on removing the large logs in order for them to be split and sold as firewood.  So, there was continued use of the ASV but we also got to use a log loader and a 299c skid steer.  Our process for the past few work days was to have some people on the ground loading the ASV and Skid Steer with logs, then those operating the machinery dropped the logs in a pile near the log loader, then one person operated the log loader to stack the logs onto the log trailer for us to later move to the wood splitting area.

I didn’t get to learn how to operate the Skid Steer, but from what I hear it is much like the ASV. I did, however, get a chance at operating the log loader.  It felt a bit like “the claw” – that quarter-eating machine at pizza parlors from which you never successfully grabbed any stuffed animal.

With the log loader, however, I had a greater deal of success.  There are several levers to pull or push in order to get the claw to rotate 360, to get the claw to grip tight or let lose, to get the arm to move left or right, to get the arm to move forward or backward, and to get the arm to move up or down.  You actually get the hang of it quicker than you might think.  (It photographs rather well…so forgive me for the onslaught of photos, I got snap happy).

I didn’t do much of the ‘heavy’ lifting (if you will) and arranging of logs with the log loader, I was moving a few at a time before my two friends took over to increase our efficiency, but it was enjoyable to learn.  And, I must admit, you feel pretty large-and-in-charge, even if lifting and loading only an unimpressive few.

On this past Friday, we also helped some other classmates split firewood.  So I got to learn how to operate the log splitter.  A short video below gives you and idea of how it works.

Splitting just felt like a social hour in truth.  You get into the groove of the assembly line: someone piles logs to split near the splitter, one person places a log to split and pushes the lever forward and back on the splitter, one person takes the split wood to pile it for future sales.  So, as it happens, splitting wood is actually fun…truly fun…who knew?

As an aside, there were lots of bark beetles and grubs to be found in some of this wood, which made for pretty interesting discoveries and teaching points (especially since we had just made tree disease and pest reports in our silviculture class).

My splitting compatriot showed me a live flat headed borer larva, explaining what it was, and then promptly popped it in his mouth challenging, “the next is yours.”  And since it appeared to be a sufficiently odd and tree-nerdy thing to do, I rose to the challenge.  Flat headed borer larvas pop in your mouth like a grape and then taste like nothing.  Needless to say, the sampling has not converted me from vegetarianism.

flat headed borer larva (pops in your mouth, not in your hand)

flat headed borer larva (pops in your mouth, not in your hand)

And, as of yesterday, the project is pretty much done and the semester ends next week.  I will openly admit I was very sad to see the project come to an end. I will miss the work days in the euc grove, and I have grown quite fond of getting dirt all over my clothes, in my hair, in my hears and nose.  I am oh-so-thankful I had the chance to participate, learn an incredible amount of things from patient (seriously) friends, and discover just how fun work can be.

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