This summer the two big goals are a new driveway and re-learning life with an infant. Whilst one goal must wait until early April, we’re utilizing the next few months to get as much of a jump on the other goal as possible. (To be fair I’m currently re-learning life with an infant in my body but I am experiencing this goal solo for the most part (though I do try to make sure Maple is as involved as possible in all the ways that pregnancy causes me inconvenience) and for now it mostly centers around doing the same physical labor differently (my deep squat muscles are toned to a T from picking up rounds of wood).)
Our current driveway is a 25% grade – which is incredibly steep. As the garden areas have developed and the money for the Homehome has slowly grown the call for a new driveway has grown progressively louder (our three-step water hauling process for the garden would become a quick one-step process, we could get a concrete truck down the hill, we could have fuel delivered etc.). With a little one suddenly imminent in our lives the driveway project moved up to the top of our list for this summer – our current driveway just isn’t safe with a baby in the backseat.
The current plan for our driveway involves a long, s-shaped driveway that would start at the top of our hill (where our current driveway begins) with two huge switchbacks that would run past the garden areas and the soon-to-be greenhouse before meeting up with our current driveway again to gracefully end in front of the Garagehome. This long, lazy driveway would have an (average) grade of 16% which sounds almost luxurious after staring down our current driveway for two years.
Step 1 to having a new driveway is to clear the space for the new driveway which means a lot of trees are coming down. I’m betting that we’ll have roughly 9 cords of wood in our sheds once we’re done clearing the whole path. Currently we’re only set up for 3.5 cords of wood (with our existing sheds) so we’re looking at building little temporary wood sheds in front of our existing wood sheds to hold all the excess until all the dirt work for the summer is done. Then we’ll build the planned 3 cord wood shed over by the Trapshed and move all the wood over there to age for a season or two. I’m so looking forward to having established sheds in the next year so that, a few years down the line, we’ll be burning wood we’ve only touched 2-3 times instead of our current 15-20 times.
It’s good, hard labor – one tree at a time. Maple chainsaws them down and then bucks them into logs or rounds depending on the tree size. Then he and I haul the rounds/logs to the driveway where they’re loaded into a sled which is hauled down the driveway. From the sled they’re thrown into a pile. After a few trees we’ll have a big pile which Maple splits with an axe while I stack.
Yesterday was cold, roughly -25 degrees Fahrenheit, which is great weather for splitting wood. We took down five more smaller birches and split/stacked them later that night.
As hard as it is to cut down trees watching the area open up has been very rewarding and inspiring. My brother put it perfectly when he said, “Before you cut down a spruce it’s always so hard – you’re like, ‘Look at this beautiful tree!’, but then you cut down the spruce and you’re always like, ‘Why did I keep this tree around for so long?!?'”
As the space opens up I can really start to see it: a graceful, curving driveway that I will always feel safe and in control on, a garden space for potted plants and flower beds that serve no purpose besides being beautiful (which is purpose enough), a space for a swing set or sandbox for little ones to play on, a space for a dog yard so that we can finally contain lovely (and wily) Ms. Sabine.
The slow and steady progress of a cleared path helps keep me moving as I haul heavy rounds through slippery sugar snow and the persistent kicks and pokes from within my belly as I’m resting my back afterwards helps remind me why the work must happen now.
Cheers and Love,
Maple and Me