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

First day with the chipper!

Oh, what fun!

I got the chipper assembled, and we’ve tested it out. Here’s how it went.

This is after lifting the box off, and removing the bubble wrap around that biggest chute. It was deep in that chute, under other stuff, that I found the instruction booklet.

Which included detailed instructions on how to remove the chipper from the box. 😀

Time for assembly!

The tops of the shredder chute had to be put on first, then the handle. It wasn’t until that was on that I could grip it well enough to manhandle the chipper over the blocks holding the wheels in place, and the rest of the assembly was done outside.

Which didn’t take very long at all. 🙂

Once it was together, I had to go and get fuel and oil. We had only a few litres of fuel left for the lawnmowers, so I had to refill the 20L jerry can anyhow. This thing takes 10W30 oil, and everything else we’ve got – including our van – uses 5W30. Oh, except the new push mower. That uses 0W30.

In reading the manual, it said to put in about 1.1L of oil, no more.

The oil, however, comes in quarts, or 946ml Which meant needing 1.16 quarts to max the oil level.

I bought two and filled it with one. The level should be checked before each new use, or at least waiting until after it has had several minutes to cool down, so I’ll see if it needs to be topped up the next time we use it.

It came with its own oil funnel, which was greatly appreciated. The opening is tucked well under the engine, and the oil funnels I already have would not have reached, nor fit in the space!

The fuel tank on this thing is pretty massive! If I had not gotten more fuel, I would not have been able to fill it.

A couple of appreciated features. One is the removable gadget in the tank opening, with the red fuel level marker. The instructions made a big deal about not overfilling, and this makes a very handy visual reference. The other appreciated feature is the fuel gauge. Love it!

There was just one down side to the fuel tank, and that was with the cap itself. It takes a surprising amount of uumphf to turn the cap, and I couldn’t do it with my right hand at all, due to a combination of arthritis pain and that injured finger. My left hand has arthritis pain, but I still had enough hand strength to open the tank. Hopefully, over time, it will get easier to open.

Once it was all filled up with oil and fuel, I spent a bit more time going over the instructions before we were ready to test it out.

Ear protection is a must!

We also need to get more safety glasses. The pair I have got all scratched up somehow, to the point that I couldn’t see through them!

My daughter brought over the loppers and starting breaking down branches for me, while I set up the collector bag. It’s attached with only a drawstring. It held well enough once the chipper was started, but there were gaps that allowed chips to go shooting out over the fuel tank and around the engine. I’ll have to figure out if there is some better place to attach it. There is nothing in the instructions other than saying to put it over the diverter.

The collector bag is very durable, and I love the zippered bottom that makes it very easy to empty.

My daughter and I started on the branch pile closest to the garage to test it out. She had a bit of a surprise!

There was an old wasps nest in it. It was an active nest last year, so there were no wasps in it this year, but she didn’t know that when she uncovered it!

The chipper is also a shredder. The larger chute at the top is for leaves and small things, including branches no more than 1/2 inch in diameter. With this pile, that’s the chute we ended up using the most.

With the smaller chute, the maximum diameter is 3 inches, however that’s not just the width of the branch. If there is a bend in the branch, or any knobby bit from a smaller branch that was pruned off, it could be enough to prevent the branch from fitting.

The pile had a lot of very bent branches.

The worst of them, plus any pieces we had to cut off to allow the remaining branches to fit, got set aside. They will likely go into the burn pile.

We went through about 1/4 to 1/3 of the pile in about an hour. We did have to stop to take apart the smaller chute and remove a piece that got stuck. There was a little bit of a side branch sticking out just enough to catch on the opening under the rubber guard.

All those branches gave us this.

The larger pile is in the garden, near the high raised bed I am working on. The small pile is what built up under the chipper itself, that had blown out the top of the collection bag.

The chips are quite small. Smaller than the chips we had when the arborists came and cleared trees from the power lines and roof. I am quite happy with that. This will be used as we layer organic matter in the high raised bed, and will also be used as mulch, so the finer the better!

I’m also happy with how much less space the chips take up, compared to the branches they came from!

Another thing I really like about it; how easy it is to move around! This chipper is designed only to be moved manually; it’s not of a size that can be towed by, say, our riding mower. Which is perfect, because some of the places we will be using it in, don’t have space for a tow vehicle.

This thing is going to make such a HUGE difference in our clean up progress! It’s going to take quite a while to chip away the branch piles, but we have been adding to those piles for four years now, so that’s to be expected! Best of all, as we continue clearing away dead trees, we’ll be able to chip the branches right away, rather than dragging them over to the piles and making them even bigger.

I am just so thrilled with this thing!!!

The Re-Farmer

Feeling chipper today!

I am so excited!!!

Yesterday was Thanksgiving Day, and WOW! do I have a wonderful gift to be excited for!

A few days ago, I wrote about a proposal I’d made to my mother. Instead of spending thousands of dollars on a garden shed we do not yet have a prepared space for, I suggested she give us the money to put towards getting the tools and equipment needed to clean things up (things she is constantly complaining about). She said she would only discuss it with my brother. Not because he’s the one who now owns the property, but because he’s a man, and I shouldn’t be doing “men’s work.”

The day before Thanksgiving, my brother made the drive out to join my mother for church and go out for lunch. Among the things they talked about was the farm, and what we were doing. Of course, my mother was complaining about what a terrible job we are doing, and apparently my daughters don’t sweep the floor.


How she would even know that, one way or the other, I have no idea. It’s an assumption she’s making. My husband is Metis, which means he’s an Indian, and all Indians are dirty and have dirty houses, therefore we are dirty and never sweep the floor.

Aint’ racism fun? :-/

The irony is that, when I was a kid, my mother made a big deal about teaching me my “duties as a woman” and I was forced to do not only the housework, but things like making my brother’s beds – and hers! Basically, I was expected to be a little household slave. It was very much an abusive situation, though I didn’t understand that at the time, just as I didn’t understand for many years that my reaction to housework after having a family myself was what we now know as PTSD. I was fine if it was just me. I even had a job as a housekeeper at a resort hotel without any problem. As soon as other family members were part of the picture, however… well, let’s just say it was unpleasant. It took many years for me to recognize what was happening and work through it. I still have that response, but I now know how to spot it happening and take steps. What it comes down to, though, is that I am a terrible housekeeper directly because of the trauma she caused when I was a child. I couldn’t even begin to explain it to her. She wouldn’t be able to grasp it.

But I digress.

As my mother criticized me and my daughters for her perceived ideas of how we run the household, my brother tried to tell her to encourage me, rather than attack me. He even asked her outright if she were punishing me for not sweeping the floor, and she said yes!

Well, my brother is an amazing man, and he continued to defend me and tell her she needs to encourage me rather than attack me. She brought up about the “mess” in the yard – most of which are the branch piles – and in the end, she actually agreed to pay for a wood chipper.


More specifically, she told my brother to make the arrangements, and she would pay for it.

Since equipment like this tends to be on short supply this time of year, my brother and his wife went shopping yesterday. They had to go to a bit far afield to find one in stock, but they did get one. Then, since it was already loaded in the car, they came over last night to drop it off!

This baby will chip branches up to 3 inches thick, and he made sure to pick the version with a more powerful engine.

It was starting to get dark by the time they got here, so I took a picture this morning. Yes, it’s still in the box. Today, I plan to spend some quality time with the instruction manual and assemble it. Hopefully, we’ll be able to start using it tonight. I will probably have to pick up more fuel, but it should already have the oil it needs. If not, I probably already have the right kind.

This morning, I phoned my mother to say thank you. She knew nothing about it, yet! My brother will bring her the full receipt (he left a gift receipt with me) later.

Of course, my other had to try and bring me down and made sure I knew that this actually belongs to my brother. Which is a given, as far as I’m concerned. What’s on the farm belongs to the farm, and the farm belongs to him. It’s just a matter of semantics, really. Still, he made sure to get this for me, because it’s a tool we need to do the job, and I am over the moon with excitement. We should be able to make a massive dent in all those branch piles, before winter sets in!

I can hardly wait to fire it up!

The Re-Farmer