RD: Back in 2016 I sent an item in to Rural Delivery that became “Wood Splitting 101” (RD Dec. 2016, pg. 30), as I was then rapidly approaching my “three-score and 10.” I made it! I still split my wood by hand with my double-bitted axe. I may have slowed a tad, but ….
Now, all these big trees – I’d planted them myself back in the late ’70s. But with climate change and all, I was worried about their proximity to the hydro-power lines. Calling in a tree-removal company would be expensive. Besides, I’m a senior on a proverbial fixed income. Type 2 diabetic – exercise and diet! So a neighbour, with a couple of us using push-poles to help head them in the wanted direction, dropped them for me. “Timber lee!” I limbed and topped them (the tallest/longest at 47 feet) and dragged the brush up over the hill and out of sight, by hand. Taberduker! Then I cut them up into four-foot lengths (Cinq de longue de hache) with my handy three-foot buck saw (Swede saw or bow saw – I grew up with buck saw). Replacement blades still readily available. Another neighbour came over and offered to buck up the bigger butt blocks with his handy chainsaw. Appreciated! Like, this is “rural” where neighbours still help neighbours. After that, I moved and piled the lengths up to let them season. That left only “stumps to jump.”
A ditty we used to hear went something like this: “When your life is in a slump / A lump a bump that rubs your rump / And you want to dump the hump / Pump it up … and jump a stump.”
Again, calling in an excavator would be expensive. So, as I’ve done many times before, I’d excavate ’em myself. This biggest one was a classic, with fairly evenly spaced radial root-arms. Dig along the edges of a root-arm, then cut it off at the end away from the stump. Next, get as close to the stump as you can and dig under the root-arm until you have a space cleared of rocks. Saw it off. Use your pry bar and a block of wood to lift it out of the ground. Newton – give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum strong enough and I can move the world. Taberduker! Simply work your way around the stump, doing one root-arm at a time.
I’ve left the last one still attached (in this photo) for perspective. I did all you see of this stump in one day, between showers (of rain!). Once all the root-arms are removed, it just leaves the basic stump. Most of the time I just dig some more until the primary root is exposed, and then I hack it off. (Usually with much difficulty. It can cause one to, almost, use the Big Word.) Then, back to the pry bar. My Uncle Arnold would have hooked up his team, Blaze and Star, and fetched it out. Or, nowadays, if’n you have a nice neighbour with a nice tractor, maybe you can get it pulled out that way. On occasion one can leave the stump exposed to the weather for a while, with some ashes dumped into the pit to aid in weakening/rotting it. It’s work, but it can be done. Once in a while I’d even find myself whistling what was my old dog Molly’s favourite tune: “Don’t sit under the Alpo tree with any dog else but me.” Actually, I enjoy the challenge. Take care!
RD: Your magazine has gone from being a rural Atlantic Canada publication to a print edition of the same left-wing liberal clap-trap that is available for free from CBC and CNN.
For that reason I will not be renewing.
RD: You have a very wonderful magazine, keep up the great work. I enjoy it very much, and catch up on the back items during the winter evenings when there isn’t much to do but read.
RD: Excellent content! We enjoy it and I like maintaining the contact with N.S. But we live a village life now, and the U.S. cost is a bit too much for our retired incomes. Thanks for carrying on with this valuable publication.
Phyllis Emerson Burke
Bear of a tale
RD: Years ago a man wrote an interesting letter to you about hunting bear up on Farmington, Cumberland County, where I lived for nearly 16 years. I wrote to Raymond Halliday, and we became good pen-friends for many years. I met him once – a very interesting, honest gentleman, for sure. He told me many bear stories – a BIG one he set a trap for, but the bear was so big and powerful he took off with the trap and big chain. Raymond joked someone will hear that old chain and think it’s a ghost! Ha ha.
I didn’t know so many bear were up there on the mountain. I only saw two or three in all the time I was there. I had to walk a long way to retrieve the cows for milking. Once we came by a wild raspberry patch, and here was a bear. The cows spooked – terrified, they headed for home and safety of the barn! The last cow that flew by me, I grabbed her tail – she pulled me out through the woods. Good thing she never got the “runs.”
We never had any phone or power up there. My grandmother had a big house – eaves all fancy and bay windows, etc. Woodcutters that came up to cut logs called her house the Mansion on the Hill! Raymond is gone. I miss his friendship and stories – RIP Raymond – miss your letters.
Thank you for reading my story.
Esther (Heisler) Bradley
Cherry Burton, N.B.
What price water?
RD: I always read Frank MacDonald’s articles in Rural Delivery with great interest. I enjoy reading of his experiences in rural life, his common sense approach to issues, and of course his great sense of humour.
His recent article on “Divining intervention” (RD April, pg. 24) struck a note with me. Although it never seemed to work for me, I can certainly remember watching others use a divining rod to find where to dig for water for a well and, if I remember right, how far you would have to dig to find water. This practice is still used by well drillers to this day.
In Colchester County, we have had two water bottling companies extracting water from our aquifer for commercial use for many years. The first company, Sparkling Spring Waters – now a national company called Canadian Springs – did build a bottling plant. They pay municipal property tax and employ 10 to 12 people. The other company, Big 8, which is owned by Sobeys, only has a fenced property and a well head, and the water they extract, which is a few hundred thousand litres a day, is shipped by bulk tank transport to their plant in Stellarton, Pictou County.
Frank is exactly right on the small amount of fees that these companies pay to the province for permits and extraction. The municipality, on the other hand, only gets property tax revenue, which is very little in one case, for the use of this valuable natural resource.
Over the last number of years, the County of Colchester has approached the province, directly and through resolutions from the UNSM (Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, now known as the Nova Scotia Federation of Municipalities), for a royalty on the water being extracted, to no avail. The water companies have objected, claiming that it would raise the cost of a bottle of water significantly.
If a royalty were placed on water at half a cent per litre, it would amount to a quarter of a cent on 500 millilitres of water that sells for between $1 and $2 per bottle. One of the proposals made to the province by the county was to split the royalty 50/50. It would be a great source of much-needed revenue for the province and the municipality, without causing a “significant” increase in the price of a bottle of water. This approach, as the others, did not receive any consideration.
The ironic situation in Colchester County is that we see thousands of litres of water being given away daily, and on the other hand, the county is spending millions of dollars to install municipal water into the communities of Bible Hill and Salmon River. Go figure.
(Former mayor of Colchester County)