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Tina Hartell

Tuesday was a sunny day in the low 40s, and it was the first work day of the 2014 sugaring season. I wore just a sweater, carried an old clipboard, and spent four hours walking the sugarbush. It was quiet with almost no wind. There was light crunching as I walked over the hardened dusting of snow and the only other sounds were the occasional blue jay, chickadee, raven, or scolding squirrel.

My goal was to find and map downed trees across the tubing in the woods. As mentioned in the previous post, even in my seasonal absence, the sugarbush has been a very busy place. All the wind storms of the last six months have left their mark, and now it’s time to spruce things up before the Big Snow comes. Because once that’s here, downed-tree removal becomes an Ordeal involving digging, ice chipping, pulling, cursing, and dodgy chainsawing.

I was busy. Within five minutes this deadfall was in front of me, hung up on the conductor system and across one of the main lines too.

The tubing is plastic and purposefully stretchy so it can both withstand significant weight and then pop back into place after released with minimal damage. I’m not so curious to see how long the tubing can hold the weight of this tree before becoming damaged: the sooner it is removed the better. The conductor system is incredibly strong as well as incredibly stretchy. If this tree had fallen on a mainline or a lateral line, it would have pinned the tubing to the ground like this.

Both of these trees are fairly easy to saw and remove, but there were also some big messes out there too.

This was a limb of one of the Old Giants that cracked and fell on top of other trees pinning the entire mess to the ground along with one mainline and two lateral lines. It’s hard to see what’s holding what. A big danger in this situation is spring poles. These are small, flexible saplings that get bent and pinned to the ground by a larger tree, then when the weight is released, they spring back into place catching anyone or anything in its way. Bad news if you’re that anyone.

On Bobo’s Mountain this year the wind did not win first place for destruction. That honor goes to the rodents. Because while the tubing was made to withstand stretching, it was not made with withstand chewing.

This lateral line was chewed completely in half. I have no doubt there are many other sites where chewing took place but until the vacuum pump is turned on so suction can be heard and damage can be identified, I prefer to stay ignorant to that wreckage. So overall, I probably removed 30+ smaller downed trees and found 22 spots where a saw is needed. The map below shows the 18 mainlines. The vertical lines from the mainlines are the laterals and the red slashes are where a saw is needed. Maybe Santa will need a chance to work off some Christmas cookies.