Can you tell?

With the lovely weather we’ve had, the branch piles are dry enough that I went out to do some chipping.

This time, I took the chipper into the maple grove to start on one of the branch piles near the old garden shed. In this location, I didn’t bother bringing the collection bag, since the wood chips would be used in the nearby garden beds.

Before I started chipping, I sorted and pruned through the branches for those small enough to go into the shredder chute, and those big enough – and straight enough – to go into the chipper chute. Just enough to clear space around the chipper and get started.

The first thing I discovered once I started it up without the collection bag is, there is a LOT of air pressure coming out of that thing!

This photo is after I’d chipped the first batch of sorted branches. Look at that hole the air made in the soil! That was after only about 15-20 minutes of chipping.

Here I’m working on the second batch of branches. When I started, the branch pile had extended out to where you can see the larger stick pile, and where you can see the taller grass in the foreground.

Getting the branches ready for chipping or shredding took a lot more time than expected. This is a big part of why…

The red lines in this picture trace a single branch. This was pruned from an apple tree, and they are the worst for branches and twigs going in all directions! The branches that were big enough to go into the chipper chute not only had to be cleared of any twigs or side branches that might get hung up in the opening, but they also had to be relatively straight, to avoid getting jammed.

After chipping and shredding a second batch, I sorted through the branches until my daughter came out to tell me supper was ready, which was my cue to stop for the day.

In the photo, pile 1 is the larger branches for the chipper. Pile 2 are the twigs up to 1/2 inch in diameter for the shredder. Pile 3 is the wibblely, wobblely, twisty branches that can’t go into the chipper. There is also a pile 4 started, well away from the work area, for the larger branches and tree trunks that are larger than 3 inches in diameter.

When I started the second batch, the chips were being blown around so much, I rifled through the junk pile behind the garden shed and found a piece of rotting plywood to use as a deflector. By the time I was done, the hole was so much deeper, I put the brick down. The next time I bring out the chipper, it will hopefully prevent the air pressure from making the hole even deeper.

Also, there’s basically no chips! All those branches, and there’s next to nothing. Yes, a lot of the chips are blown around the area, but even so, the branches got reduced to a very small amount of chips. I did make quite a dent in the pile, too. It basically shows that these branch piles are more air than wood!

The amount of time spent trimming and sorting the branches to fit is much more than I expected. It’s not that big of a deal when working on one of the little piles in the trees, but it’s going to be insane when working on one of the big piles. For those, it might still be worth hiring the tree company with their massive chipper. They don’t need to do any trimming at all, and can shove whole branches into the chute. When I got an estimate done, the guy figured it would take 6 hours to do the two big piles in the outer yard, the one by the garage, and the piles in the maple grove. It took me about 1 1/2 hours to do the amount of sorting and chipping I did today. At that rate, if the girls and I were all sorting and chipping at the same time, we might be able to finish the pile I was working on today, in maybe 4 hours – and we would still have the bigger pieces and twisted branches left over to deal with, most of which their chipper could handle.

I will continue to focus on the smaller piles in the inner yard. Hopefully, next year, we will have the budget to get the tree guys to come out with their monster machine to do the big piles. 🙂 Meanwhile, we can also use the chipper each time we work on cleaning up the spruce grove, cutting down those dead trees, and not be adding to the piles anymore!

The Re-Farmer

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