Inspired Projects

The Whisper Chipper

Lately, M and I have been razing a swath of trees, vines and poison ivy back in the forest to make way for a fruit tree orchard. Although the vision of some day in the future being able to head out back and pick a fresh plum is very motivating, it’s not as easy as digging a hole and planting a sapling.  No…M has been channeling his inner Paul Bunyan, chopping down trees for weeks (at last count it was over 20 big guys and dozens of smaller ones), and I’ve been hauling out the branches and logs (ok, we’ve both been hauling them out…).  I guess that makes me Babe the Blue Ox, though I can’t say I fancy the comparison.

Q: How does one dispose of tons (literally) of branches, leaves, woody creeper vines and various detritus?

A: The Whisper Chipper.

I must caution that this is a gross misnomer.  Note the huge ear muffs.
This thing whines like a jet engine.

The battle began in February, when the air was brisk and the vines bare — the thorny ones were still a hazard.  For a week and a half we spent nearly every day out there — M with his chain saw and me with my leather gloves dragging things out to feed the machine.  When we left for California we felt rather pleased with the progress.

We didn’t really resume the attack until last week, and we were sorry to learn that not only are branches severed 3 weeks ago infinitely harder to jam into the chipper than freshly cut ones, but those bare, whispy vines were now leafy (as I said, many with poison ivy) and the pine trees laden with pollen (a neon yellow dust which would explode with the slightest jostle of the branches…achoo!).   After a few more days feeding the chipper (and eventually we were just pulling the stray logs deep into the forest) we have just about cleared out all of the branches and are ready to run the brush hog through the dead zone to chew up all the debris left on the ground.  End phase one of Operation Orchard.

All in all, the project was a huge pain in the neck but once we plant those trees (probably this fall) it will be worth it.  And in a couple of years, we’ll have more plums and apples and peaches and pears, and other fruit, than we know what to do with.


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