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Stump decay rates

Clearing woods

Mark's been cutting out stumps off and on all winter to make our yard easier to mow.  I come along behind him and gather up the rotting wood (some of it nearly stump dirt) to add to my hugelkultur donuts around fruit trees in the waterlogged forest garden.

In general, the smaller stumps rot faster, just as you'd expect.  In fact, I've pulled several four inch in diameter stumps out of the ground by myself after wiggling them like loose teeth for a few seconds.  But this week's stumps didn't follow the trend.

Walnut stump

The biggest stump was well rotted despite being nearly three feet in diameter.  When Mark's saw made it all the way through, I could tell that the tree (probably a black walnut) had grown quickly in its then-pasture location, creating growth rings about an inch in diameter.  Perhaps the fast growth contributed to fast decay?

Red cedar stump

In contrast, the littlest stump had barely decomposed at all.  We both knew why as soon as the saw bit into the wood --- the odor of red cedar quickly filled the air.  I wonder how long that red cedar stump will sit in the ground before it disappears?

Our chicken waterer never spills or fills with POOP.


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If you'd like to expedite the stump removal perhaps consider lighting a bag of charcoal briquettes or some hardwood over the stump and burning it down below the surface of the ground. A few bar bq's or one really good hot fire and you should have the stump down far enough that you can mow over it.
Comment by Heath Sat Apr 7 12:30:06 2012
Hi guys, I just wanted to let you know. I just purchased a cheap chainsaw chain grinder at HarborFreight for $30 and it works great. Maybe not the best if you sharpen a few dozen chains a week but plenty good enough for a homeowner. It takes a few minutes to sharpen to perfect teeth every time. I mounted it to a small piece of plywood so I can take it with me, where ever I am and can just clamp it to my tailgate and sharpen chainsaw that just got dulled from a rock, dirt, etc.
Comment by Marco Sat Apr 7 14:12:12 2012
Marco --- I don't think that's off topic at all! We spend a lot of time hunting down local people who will sharpen our chains. Maybe you're right that we should just buy a cheap sharpener --- I assume this is some kind of mechanized sharpener, not just the file with guide?
Comment by anna Sat Apr 7 15:30:49 2012
Heath --- I'll bet it would work well to burn the stumps out. We might try that sometime this summer when we want to grill. :-)
Comment by anna Sat Apr 7 15:35:12 2012
http://www.harborfreight.com/electric-chain-saw-sharpener-93213.html
Comment by Heath Sat Apr 7 15:36:06 2012

I heard some bad things about that one heath, I ended up getting this one http://www.harborfreight.com/electric-chain-saw-sharpener-68221.html

It very simple to set up. What I found whats nice is to grind one chain to 20 degrees for hardwoods and 35 degrees on another chain for softwoods. Literally takes 5 minutes for a full sharpen on a 18" chain. What I like when your cutting stumps, you run into rocks in the trunk sometimes that the tree pulled up through itself and can sharpen a warn out chain brand new.

Only thing to it on this cheap unit is when you bring it down to grind just guide it, if you force it to much the plastic isn't rigid enough to stay lined up.

Comment by Marco Sat Apr 7 22:46:50 2012
Marco --- Good data on using different sharpening techniques for hardwoods vs. softwoods! And on the sharpener itself. I suspect Mark's going to want one. :-)
Comment by anna Sun Apr 8 09:49:28 2012

One very unique homestead, $1,500 per acre, the opportunity of a lifetime