Yard progress... We spent the entire day working in the yard today. It was such a lovely spring day that I just couldn't stand the idea of working in the barn. So I got a good start on a project I couldn't tackle last summer: cleaning up years of deadfall from the willows, cottonwoods, and box elders growing along the canal. Some of this is hand saw and lopper sort of work, but much of it was chainsaw – and I don't like using a chainsaw without someone there to call for help if needed. I've never actually needed someone to call for help, but it's very comforting to know that someone could.
The work we did today involved a large cottonwood branch (about 18" diameter) that had cracked and fallen across the canal, extending about 40' into the edge of our lawn. It looks like this happened at least 10 years ago, as there were substantial new branches off the big branch that clearly grew out after the big branch fell. However, the big branch was slowly but surely making its way toward the ground, as the now-dead branches propping it up died and rotted. Another couple of years and I'd have this big log right on the lawn.
Stihl MS 461 R. I'd only used it once before, almost a year ago, when Debbie was up here for a visit (she was my safety person). Today I broke it out, topped off all the fluid levels, and tried to start it. On the fourth pull, it fired up – very nice. Then I took it out to the broken limb, climbed into all my safety gear (helmet, face shield, ear protectors, Kevlar gloves and chaps) and went to work. In very short order I had that entire 40' long branch cut to bits, along with all the big branches from it. Compared with chainsaws I've used in the past, this one is both light and powerful, and the controls are simple and obvious. It's so light that working with my arms straight out or even elevated is not a problem. The anti-kickback brake is completely unobtrusive, but still works great. The rocker claws make cutting big logs very easy. It's a sweet machine, even better than the Husqvarna chainsaw I had in Jamul.
Unfortunately for me, once I that monster branch all cut up, I had to load it on the tractor and haul it to my log pile. That was a bunch of work, and now I'm feeling it in all my muscles :)