Saturday, September 5, 2015

Progress in the Back Yard

We decided it was about time to start in on the back yard again, although I think Rachel would have rather had me help more with the laundry... Anyway, today I decided to get started cutting down the trees that are in the way of our landscaping plan. These were all pine trees about 10"-15" in diameter. I had good luck with the first one, it came down exactly where I wanted it, right across the back property line.

The second one though was a little more trouble, the trunk came out of the ground and kind of curved up, like a J. And I needed it to fall opposite the direction it was leaning. So I went and got my rope and tied it up about 20' and then tied it to another tree in the direction I wanted it to fall, thinking that I would be able to pull it down. I knew I needed to be careful, because it was naturally growing towards the neighbors, and was only about 5 feet away from the property line. I got the wedge cut out at the base of the tree and then started the back cut on the other side. I got about 1 inch from the middle and then went to the tree where I had tied the guide rope and started to pull. I got it to wave and bend, but it wouldn't come down... Ammon and Noah were trying to pull too. They mostly bounced up and down on the rope. It wasn't enough though. I needed to back cut a little further. I went to sharpen the blade, and took about 10 minutes to get it to where I was ok with it again. Anyway, I think that was a mistake, because when I went to start in on the tree again, the sharp chain just cut right through and the tree started to go exactly where I DIDN'T want it to go, towards the neighbors house! I tossed the chainsaw away (and it died thankfully) and grabbed the trunk of the tree to try to direct it away from anything important on the neighbors property. I got lucky, because with the rope tied where it was and my little bit of weight on the base, the tree fell onto the fence, and landed on a fence post and then teeter-tottered. I was able to use my weight on the trunk to keep it from hitting the neighbors shed, or do any damage to anything on their property. LUCKY. My arms sure did take a beating though. Bruises, scrapes and a couple of deeper cuts where some branches got as I was hanging onto the trunk.

The next one couldn't have been any easier. It was a simple one, it grew perfectly straight, and there wasn't anything in the way of it coming down exactly where I wanted it. That one made me feel pretty good.

The last one I tackled today was the biggest one, about 15" diameter. This one was also a straight growing tree and should have been easy, except for where it was growing. It was at the very back of our property, right next to the fence and there were several larger trees with branches that were right in the way of where I was trying to get it to fall. I couldn't see how to get it to fall where I wanted, as the branches would have directed it towards the same fence I had trouble with earlier. I wasn't interested in playing chicken with that fence again. I went and got a ladder and decided to climb the tree and cut it in half, letting the top fall first, and then tackling the rest of the trunk. I was pretty sure that it was a great idea, I even used my rope to tie the handle of the chainsaw, with about four feet of "leash" and then tied the ladder to the tree, and myself to the ladder. I was getting ready to start up the chainsaw when wiser heads prevailed. My wife came out and said that she didn't think what I was doing looked very safe. I looked down, I was about 25' up, and thought, "What could possibly go wrong? EVERYTHING!" So I decided to listen to my wife. However, as I was up there, I glanced towards our house, and noticed that there was a much clearer path for the tree to fall than the direction that I was intending for it to go in the first place, one that would let me cut the tree from the base with no trouble. So I untied everything, then tied the rope by itself up above where I was to use as a pull. I climbed down and started cutting. It couldn't have come down any more perfectly. It ended up coming down about 5' short of the brand new deck we had just finished building. I didn't break any of the branches of the trees I wanted to keep, ruin anything else in the yard, or hurt myself in any way. It was so perfect that I decided to take a picture of it:

Thursday, July 30, 2015

No Title

Things have been going pretty well for us lately at home. Rachel quit the bank (finally) and came to work part time with me at Lund Engineering. It's kind of a funny story, I was getting tired of her having bad, stressful days at the bank, and one day she asked me if she could come to work with me. I told her that I would see what I could do. I thought about it for a few days, and decided that having my wife work with me wouldn't be a bad thing, and that her stress level would definitely go down working where I work, so why not? I went in and spoke with the office manager (the owners wife) and asked if there was anything that my overqualified wife could do. She thought about it for a few minutes and started coming up with things Rachel could do, things that she could stop worrying about and trim her own hours down to a more reasonable 40 per week. The more she thought about it, the more she liked the idea, and this all happened in the space of about 5 minutes.
From there it was only a matter of checking with the other office staff to see what they thought, and confirming with the Boss that she could hire someone if she wanted. Rachel is sitting out there now, at the front desk right now! And she comes home happy, they offered her pretty good pay, and at three days a week, she has plenty of time to do the other "mom" things she wants to do.
Rachel also just finished up with her online schooling, completing a Bachelors Degree from BYU-Idaho online. That has been a nightmare for our household these last few years especially. Lots of time spent on the computer, not going out with friends, not having time to clean, to play with kids. I stepped in to help as best I could, but I'm not the Mom. I do ok at being a Dad, but I am definitely not a Mom. We are going to have a graduation party here in a few weeks, assuming all goes as planned.

As for me, I am still very happy with my job. I was given a a few months ago and that really helped the income situation stabilize in our home. Things are pretty slow now, and I am having to get creative in order to find enough to keep me occupied. I have spent time in the shop helping with assembly, I have spent time finding and meeting with new potential vendors, I have gone to visit existing vendors to reassure them that we will be busy again soon. I have been doing clerical work here and there, record keeping and such. But I find myself staring out my office window a lot lately. All this sunshine we have had here in the Pacific Northwest is pretty addicting. Not really good for the rhododendrons outside my window though...

One of Rachel's classes was how to start an online business. After looking at the possibilities suggested by the professor, she decided on a consignment type online business. We found out that it is WAY harder to do that previously thought. My hat is off to all those who are able to start, grow and maintain their own  successful online business. We gave it a good try, and still have hopes to be able to do something else in the future, but I think we would have to be way more passionate about the business model/product. You can see our effort at