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Chuck Hinman: IJMA. Cutting wood in the winter

Chuck Hinman: Cutting wood in the winter. Chuck says that cutting wood "was a boring but necessary job if we were to keep warm."
Next earlier Chuck Hinman column - Met Any Angels Recently?

By Chuck Hinman

Cutting wood in the winter

Quite a lot of water has trickled down Wolf Creek since Dad, brother Bob, and I bundled up in warm under and outer wear and rode in a wagon pulled by Dick and Diamond to the timber on the rented 'Fauver 80.' Once there, we would cut wood to feed the gluttonous furnace of the Hinman household. It was a boring but necessary job if we were to keep warm. Bob and I were healthy maturing teenagers for which this was a Saturday ritual in the cold winter months when we were out of school.


Recent winters are much, much milder than those in the 1930's. Global warming is said to be the explanation. Nebraska winters in the 1930's were brutal with a snow pack lasting most of the winter.

Horse-drawn wagon loaded with wood-cutting tools

Dad kept the horse-drawn wagon loaded with the wood-cutting tools we would use felling trees and cutting them up in 8 to 12 foot lengths for the grand 'sawing party.' At that time with the help of a few neighbors, and our portable buzz saw, we would saw the wood in useable lengths to stoke the furnace. I have seen this huge stack of timbers, awaiting the 'grand sawing party' up to head high and 20 feet or more long.

One of the most used hand tools of course was the two-man crosscut saw, predecessor to the chain saw. Whoever invented the chain saw should have received the Nobel prize. It made the woodcutter's job a piece of cake in comparison. Unfortunately the chain saw hadn't been invented in the days of which I am writing.

Tools used in preparing wood for furnace

Among other tools were a one-man crosscut saw, double and single headed axes, wedges, and a TNT-powered solid steel cylinder to split those logs too wide to go in a furnace and burn easily.

The larger crosscut saw was manned by two of us to fell a tree and cut it up in smaller manageable pieces to add to the huge stack awaiting the 'sawing party.' Axes were used to trim off twigs and smaller useless branches. There was always a fire burning nearby to burn the brush as well as to frequently warm your 'buns.' The horses were kept busy pulling the larger timbers with a log chain to be added to the stack.

Fordson tractor aids wood sawing

On the 'SP' day, Dad would bring the Fordson tractor, and our tractor-powered 'buzz saw' with a 30 inch circular steel blade. The buzz saw was hooked up to the pulley on the tractor with a large belt. The saw was equipped with a moveable tray (forward and backward) to hold the lengths of timber that were to be fed in to the saw blade to produce 18" inch lengths of wood. That was the right size to go in the furnace.

On the day of the 'sawing party,' we had several neighbors who with their husky teen-age boys gathered to 'saw-up' the huge pile of wood the Hinmans had worked all winter to be ready for this day.

Whining saws and muscle-tasking work

When a length of timber was brought from the pile of wood and laid on the tray of the buzz saw, Dad and another person would man the position of pushing the log in to the buzz saw blade and someone stood on the other side of the buzz saw blade to receive the sawed-off piece and pitch it on to the burgeoning pile of sawed wood. On subsequent Saturdays, the wood would be hauled home and stacked in the full basement of our house next to the furnace. The din from the whining saw after a few hours was deafening! I can remember sawing wood many days when it was snowing.

It was heavy, muscle-tasking work but I credit those days with the longevity of life I enjoy 75 years later. If you needed a break and a drink of water, you walked down to the nearby bed of Wolf Creek and lapped up clear, running, ice-cold water like a dog. In fact, our faithful dog Sport joined me many times as I lapped up water from Wolf Creek. What a buddy and what a life; American home-life at its best!

Written by Chuck Hinman, Tallgrass Estates, Monday, 27 November 2006

A further note about winter omitted by the author

After I commented on corn cobs, Chuck sent me this message on Tuesday, 28 November 20006:
Good morning Robert. Just wanted you to know that I have edited out the last paragraph in my recent story about wood cutting in Nebraska. I was tormented as I slept last night that not all my readers would be comfortable with my talk about red or white corn cobs.

I sometimes fail to heed when my story is finished and in this case I went on one paragraph too far.

I think it's funny but not all my readers share my redneck Nebraska humor. My wife didn't but she wasn't here to advise me.
Here is the omitted paragraph:
And for a little levity in closing, I learned how to go to the bathroom (and not flinch) sitting on a felled tree in zero degree weather. And yes, I learned that white cobs are the woodcutter's favorite over red cobs! Brrrrr!

Only in Nebraska.........!




This story was posted on 2013-11-10 00:47:39
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