How Is Your Summer On The Farm

the barn still needed a side addition to provide cover for the equipment and hay for the winter

It has been HOT here and BUSY.  You would think with 16 hours of daylight each day I would be making a lot of progress, and I am I guess but it is hard to tell with so many things going on all at once.  The garden of course, Tomatoes and Squash did especially this year and the Bell peppers are getting there in a hurry.  The lawn to mow, chickens to tend to cattle to keep in hay and water and then of course there is inside the house as well.  And quite honestly I cannot stand 16 hours out in that sun.  I grew up and worked in it in SE FL. and you would think I am accustomed to it.  And I am and can still find things to do outside but I find myself doing those jobs that can be accomplished in the shade after about eleven.  For example if you have read many of the other posts here I have mentioned the lean-to shed I need to put on the side of the barn.  I have been trying to get that sucker up for about five years now so I know you have heard me squall about not having having the time to get to it.  Strange isn’t it.  TIME and MONEY!  There is never enough!  Well it is still not up.  But I am working on it!  Part of that is one of those in the shade jobs I was talking about. One day last week it was so hot in the sun it felt like you couldn’t breath so I decided to go cut the rest of the trees needed for barn post.  They are pretty much in the shade from all the other trees around them that need to come down as well.  Yes I could go buy poles but that would cost about $500.00 dollars, that could be better spent somewhere else.  Especially considering the fact that these cedars are just standing there and need to come down anyway so grass can grow.  The grass is for the cows which I have been having to feed hay all summer since I don’t have enough pasture for them.  OK so two birds with one stone so to speak?  Get post for the barn and clear a few of the trees that I need down anyway.  Makes sense to me.

I will tell you though doing things like this will certainly give you an appreciation for what our ancestors had to do to settle this land when they started.  I grabbed my trusty chain saw, two of them actually, in case I get one of them hung up in a tree and can’t get it out.  OH by and the way they didn’t have chain saws back then either, they used axes.  I would probably still be working on the first one.  Threw them in the toolbox on the 4 wheeler, they had to walk or saddle the horse incidentally, and headed down the hill to find the ones I wanted.  I need four more post, or barn poles if you prefer.  They need to be tall and straight.  Or as straight as I can find anyway. I had six down and dried already but still need to remove the bark.  Why?  The bark will hold moisture against the wood itself causing rot.  A lot faster than if the bark were removed.  Especially below ground level and I would like these to last at least as long as I am around.  I have read that red cedar or the  center oart of the local cedars will last up 50 years in the ground.  That should just about cover the time I have left.

I am cutting them 16′ so I will have the clearance to stack the hay inside each year instead of covering it with plastic like it is now.  But it is not covered well right now.  It has been windy here the last couple of days and it blew about half the plastic off  so I will have to stop writing shortly and go cover that before the sun gets up and it is so hot.  It is only 72 right now and I much prefer that to being out there now.  When it gets in the 90s as it is supposed to later I prefer to be in the shade at least or in the AC doing this..  Again our ancestors did not have air conditioning either.

Well that is done but even at 72 degrees the humidity is so high I am still wet with sweat after less than an hour outside doing it. I also discovered the clear plastic does not age well in the sun.  As I tried to reposition it it would just crumble in my hands so I had to dig out the big plastic bags I have been using for years to cover the hay with.  Most of them have some pretty good size tears in them which is why I went to the sheet plastic this year anyway.  Oh well just another reason to finish this addition.

I cut these four last week but they all still needed the bark removed as I mentioned earlier.  I do not have the large piece of equipment needed to turn them down to one size top to bottom removing the bark as you go so I will have to do it the old fashion way.  A draw knife; and a hatchet came in might handy on the green wood.   

draw knife

I had been given the draw knife by a family member a few years back and it looked good hanging on the wall.  Never expected to use it though.  As you can see it is a double handled bladed tool about 16 inches long that you draw or pull towards yourself to remove the bark or if you had a lot more desire or dedication to perfection than I do it could be used to trim it down till it has that nice uniform roundness top to bottom that we are accustomed to today.  I am just glad it was them not me that had to do that.  Or I would be down buying barn poles.  It is not hard work but if it was done all day there is no doubt in my mind that you would be tired by end of day.  It took me several partial days to get them all.  The draw knife worked best on the ones that had been allowed to dry but with the green cedars the hatchet worked better  to peel it much like peeling a piece of fruit and large sections could sometimes be removed all at once.  Again not easy but not bad.  Where the branches were either cut off or rotted off is the most difficult to work around and cedars branch all the way from top to bottom.  Another thing about cedars, at least the ones here, is that when growing if they are not crowded they will form multiple trunks all growing straight up but none being worth anything as they don’t get very large.  Most of the time.  But if crowded by other trees one trunk grows making, usually a  relatively straight trunk tapering bottom to top of course so at 16’ lengths you may have 10 to 12 inch diameter at the bottom and say six at the top.


You will note some of the poles are black on the bottom but some are not.  The ones with the black I have applied a paint or sealer to in order to, hopefully, slow down or stop the rot.  Again prolong the life of them.  I don’t want the dubious pleasure of having to replace them if I can avoid it.  The others I still have to seal but they need to dry a little first to get a better seal.  This will continue well above ground to stop surface water from getting to it as well. You may also have noted there are several shorter pieces as well.  These will be used for fence post as needed.  Too much work has gone into harvesting these trees to waste usable pieces.

The trick for me though will be setting these post without scraping  this sealer off in places while putting them in the holes.  Remember most of the time I work alone so I am still trying to devise a way to attach them to the front loader on the tractor that will allow me to just sit them in instead of dragging them to the hole and pushing them down in scraping the sides as we go. This would mean I had put a lot of effort for nothing.  Just so you will know though i DO NOT intend to dig them up every couple of years to check their condition.  You will just have to wonder right along with me.  If however any of them do rot off in the next few years you may well hear about it and it won’t require a computer and I can just about guarantee the terms used will not do for polite company.  SMILE

barn   here it is plain and ugly old tabbacco barn but it has been around longer than I have and it would be a shame to take it down just to put up something new

Look it up to see which of the woods are best for post.  Of necessity I have used a variety.  Red Cedar, Black Locust, and what I believe to be Elm.  Let me know where I went wrong if I did.


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