Monday, April 29, 2013

True sign of spring

In April the true sign of spring is when they start cutting and hauling wood. One of the main sources of heat here in Serbia is wood stoves and has been for hundreds of years. You will see chimneys that are falling down but you will see smoke coming out of it. Well as it turns out this time of year is when everyone stocks up on wood. Our first indication of this when we first started seeing these little machines running around town with two wheels in front and one in back  with a man sitting on the seat in back and a couple of men sitting in a platform in front. When I asked someone what that was they replied that they were the portable band saws. They are about the size of a small fork lift and are powered by a big belt like the old threshing machines.

We then had to go out to the little village of Sasinci. It is out about 5 miles and the country is real flat and the road was always marked by the long line of trees lining the road. Well on this trip most of the trees were gone. The next day the last of them were gone, Probably about 40 trees that were at least 25 years old were gone in a day.  They were all cut into lengths of about 9 feet and being loaded onto trucks to be hauled away. Then over the coarse of the next week you would see tractors and trucks and horses with wagons hauling this type of wood that had been split and dumping it on the side of the road in front of houses. It soon became obvious that there had to be more than the trees that we saw cut down to produce all of this wood. We figured that this was firewood but couldn't understand how the little old people could take these Hugh piles of logs and stack them in their yard. And I mean little old people. Elderly people all bent over would be out looking at these piles and I felt sorry for them because it takes a healthy man to move them. Just about time I felt one should go and volunteer to help them move it, up shows up one of these Portable bans saws.

It takes three men to run them. One picks up the split logs and places it on the deck of the band saw. The second man proceeds to cut it into about foot long pieces which the third man throws out into a new pile. They can cut a large split log faster than I could cut a 2 x 4 through with my chop saw. They start about 6:00 am and go until about 8:00 pm. As soon as they get a pile all cut two men will get on the front of the band saw and the last one on the back and put it in gear and head down the road. It doesn't matter if  the street is a little back street or if it is the main highway; it and the horse drawn wagons are just part of the traffic.

Then several members of the family will all bring their wheel barrels and haul the wood to the back courtyard and stack it for winter , Then often the next morning there is another huge pile of split logs in front of the same yard and the whole process starts all over again. It seems that April is the best time to harvest this wood as the sap has not come into the wood as yet so it is not as heavy and will dry easier. It is before the leaves are all out and generally the really cold weather is over until next year. But for about three weeks you will see every kind of truck, trailer or wagon hauling wood and probably fifteen to twenty of these band saws running around town.

This is taken from our balcony--This was the first
of two loads of wood.

See growing pile of cut up logs
This is the portable band saw

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