I woke up on Sunday knowing that in spite of the frigid wind, I was going to cut some Osage Orange limbs for posts. While I was at it, I was going to install a post for one of Kate’s bird feeders … even though the ground now has several inches of frost.
My first task was to get the chainsaw running. The trusty Husqvarna fired up on full choke after about 10 pulls with the compression release open. I was pretty amazed, especially since the gas was left over from the last time I cut wood back in August. It took longer than usual for the saw to warm sufficiently enough to run at full throttle, but hey, it was in the teens, temperaturewise.
Once I knew the saw would work, I replaced the chain with a brand new one from Oregon. I will cover chain saw chain sharpening another time, but suffice it to say, I didn’t feel like dressing the teeth in my unheated shop. Next, I loaded the saw, a couple of dogs and a can of gas/oil mix into the Polaris Ranger 700 and headed off to look over some of the more overgrown Osage Orange trees on our place.
I didn’t cut any trees down completely, but I did trim large trunks and branches from several. I will use the posts for garden fencing, livestock fencing and for trellises and other yard/garden/vineyard structures. The beauty of Osage Orange is that it will outlast most other kinds of posts in this region … including lighter-weight, steel t-posts. The Osage Orange posts can be set with their bark on and need no treatment whatsoever to make them decay resistant. The wood is dense … the heartwood is yellow-orange.
Sawing in the winter is joy compared with sawing in the summer. With the sap drawn down into the roots, the trees cut more easily, and the tops are much easier to trim with the leaves out of the way. I didn’t haul all the posts back to the barn yet, but I did bring one in to use for Kate’s bird feeder. I used a couple of gallons of hot water to melt the frost enough to get the post-hole digger to penetrate the soil. That post, now planted about 30-inches in the ground, should last forever.
After planting the post, I trimmed the top level and attached the feeder with three deck screws. Within minutes of mounting and filling the feeder with peanuts and sunflower seeds, our feathered friends began to flock in. The delight on Kate’s face warmed any cold that had crept into my Carhartts … another good day in Kansas.
Hank Will raises hair sheep, heritage cattle and many varieties of open-pollinated corn with his wife, Karen, on their rural Osage County, Kansas farm. His home life is a perfect complement to his professional life as editor in chief at GRIT and Capper's Farmer magazines. Connect with him on Google+.