DIY : Down with the wood — May 28 – Jen Daniels-Lake – Medium

A three-day weekend at the Daniels-Lake household is code for let’s take on a GIANT project and spend three days straight working our butts off! Surprisingly, I’m writing this in the 30 minutes I have in between working outside for most of the day and hosting one of our friends for dinner, and I’m not absolutely exhausted. I am as shocked as you are!

This weekend we decided would be the weekend of tree destruction (it actually says that on my calendar). Ever since I went to Vipassana, a 10-day silent meditation retreat up in Rockford, and spent all ten days thinking about my top three things I want to do on our property, which are accommodate more parking, have a nice walkway for guests to enter the farm through the side of the house, and fence in everything (still waiting on that one), I’ve patiently looked forward to this weekend. And the best part was that I was out of town from Thursday through Sunday morning visiting family in Austin, so Emily had a full day of work on Saturday without me.

We have some pretty amazing friends, because three rad people with big muscles showed up to help Emily cut down five big trees on Saturday (thanks Jeff, Jorge, and Kyle!!). Emily finally got to learn how to use their new chainsaw and got lots of practice cutting down a mini forest in our front yard to make way for more room for cars. In most circumstances, I might be sad to cut down so many trees, but these were mostly dead, so it’s okay.

Check out that mini forest of dead trees!

By the end of a grueling full day of work, the team had cleared the entire front area and some of the pathway around the side, cut up most of the timber, and piled up the majority of the branches into a giant pile for us to chip the next day. Sunday rolled around and the local rental shop, Taylor Rental, dropped off a giant chipper for us to rent for the weekend. We had to negotiate a bit, but they let us have the giant machine for $200 and we got to keep it for an extra day since they were closed on Monday.

Giant chipper that can only be moved a couple of inches when Emily and I both try and lift it (left); Giant pile of trees to chip (right)

Emily spent Sunday morning chopping down more brush and trees in the backyard and cutting down their least favorite decorative plant, the Yews that lined every external wall of our house. I got off the plane from Austin and arrived home around 1 pm on Sunday to find our backyard in absolute disarray with dead plants everywhere and hours of chipping ahead of us. I’d assume most normal people don’t jump into hours of physically demanding, hot AF manual labor the moment they get off a plane, but I was surprised to find that a bit of good old dirt and sweat felt really good after lounging by a pool for a couple of days.

This was the first real weekend of hard labor for us this season, and I must admit it felt good to be outside again. I have scratches up and down my arms and my muscles are sore, but it was a lot of fun to be outside with my wife, dreaming about all the crazy things we’re going to do on our property and seeing it all with fresh eyes again. And in a couple of hours, we created a pile of wood chips bigger than us. That’s pretty damn cool.

Shred that wood. The wood is shredded.

We weren’t done by Sunday evening. outside by 8 am on Monday piling up all the tree limbs and chipping away. By around 3 pm on Monday, with a lovely break for a bbq lunch with my sister and her family, we’d completely cleared the entire front and side entrance of our house of all brush.

We didn’t finish everything on Sunday, so we were outside again on Monday morning at 8 am to finish up the rest of wood piling and chipping. We didn’t finish up until after 3 pm, but we did manage to take a lovely break to visit with my sister and her family over a Memorial Day barbecue lunch. Clean-up took another two hours for Emily and I still managed to get in the grocery shopping and clean up the house before our dinner guest arrived. And viola, tree destruction weekend is complete.

The future home of where all our friends will park when they come to visit

I may have just pulled a twig out of my hair, and we have a giant pile of mulch to move at some point but I’m pretty happy with the results. It only took a 10-day silent meditation retreat and a full year later for us to get the ball rolling on some of these projects, but we’ve done it! Down with the wood!

The side of the backyard sans brush. What will we put there now!?! Oh, and a giant pile of wood.


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