By Wayne Cipriano
There were a lot of chainsaws screaming around here, lots of people taking advantage of the one Fall day we got in amongst our very early Winter.
I’d been waiting for just such a day to fire up the old Stihl and clean up some of our roadway that has become more and more narrow as trees and brush reached for the sunlight over the road. Some of it was rubbing the side of the car and that had to go.
So, I got ready: collected all that gear; filled up the tanks with fuel and oil; started the chainsaw and let it warm up; and left for the areas that required trimming.
I cut everything back and then started to look at all those places that weren’t a problem now but would surely develop into problems as time passes. A lot of those areas necessitated reaching above my chest and I was reaching quite a bit.
Yes, I am aware of how dangerous it is to chainsaw overhead. I had a hardhat and sunglasses on, locked both elbows tightly, planned each cut beforehand, rested my arms frequently, and so on. I got a rope out, tied up some branches, pulled the limb down, tied it off, and sawed at a safer level when possible. I kept thinking how just a second’s inattention could result in a very serious injury so I tried to pay attention and stay aware as I fatigued.
All that precaution paid off in no injuries and no surprises (often referred to as “widowmakers”).
Ever notice how, when you have a chainsaw in hand, and it is running sweetly, how much stuff suddenly needs cutting? I wasted multiflora rose bushes that were quite impressive. I cut the lower branches off trees that I could use as anchor points when I’m roping calves on foot. I trimmed a lot of cedars to give them a more pleasing Christmasy shape. I finally ran out of fuel before I got into more topiary.
Naturally, as soon as the fuel is exhausted, I noticed several things that needed cutting that had escaped my eye when the saw was buzzing. This happens just about every time I use the saw.
It is very difficult to start the saw without a full fuel tank, but if you don’t use the entire tank of fuel it’s not a good idea to leave fuel in the saw over a long period of time (clogging or something). It’s a hassle each time, and you always have a nearly full tank when there is nothing left to cut!
You can spill all the fuel on the ground, cursing yourself as an environmental Nazi. And being cheap, it breaks my heart to see that money poured out.
You can try to catch the fuel in a container and try to use it next time, but that becomes a very messy procedure and with all that sawdust and dirt all over the saw, the potential for contamination and clogged fuel filters looms large.
Or, you turn your back and tough it out, leaving those last few cuts that you discovered after the saw ran dry for the next time.
I toughed it out and went to the house for cookies and hot chocolate. I guess that’s not really toughing it out, is it?