Monday, April 29, 2013

Splitting Posts with Hand Signals!

Oh the years we waste and the tears we waste
And the work of head and hand
Belong to the woman who did not know……
And did not understand.
                  Rudyard Kipling


With the swirling wind whipping the sawdust into the face of My Hero and the sweat running down his forehead he runs his worn glove over his face, this is typical. I have many photos of my hardworking Farmer and I thought I would share one of the things we did this past weekend. I love documenting the hard labour that it takes to keep our farm running and the teamwork and skills required. This would be only one of those jobs.

There are many important things you have to know if you are a working farm girl like I am. A very important and I must add a potential lifesaving thing you need to understand are hand signals; you know the ones that you can see construction workers use? The right hand signals and ultimately the understanding of these signals keep the worker in front of the heavy equipment safe and the operator of that piece of equipment must know them and know them perfectly with no errors.  Curl bucket in or out, raise bucket up or down, inch forward slowly or forward fast, back up the machine, and emergency shutdown these are just a few examples. NEVER take your eyes off the person giving the hand signals.

The first time My Hero started putting his hands in the air and twirling his pointer finger in a circular motion or doing the “come hither wave” I had no clue and since I was the one in the driver’s seat of this piece of equipment that could crush him as he tried to direct me in what to do with the bucket of the tractor I learned quickly out of fear if nothing else.


That being said brings me to last weekend when I had to remember those signals again. My Hero was splitting fence posts which are really old cut off bottom ends of hydro poles,they are about 6 to 7 feet long that we had delivered to the farm for nothing (there is no such thing as a useless item here on the farm, recycling is a better word than garbage). We use them as pickets for our rail fence, they are usually Cedar and are very durable but if you have looked at the bottom ends of hydro poles you will see they are huge so it requires some work to get them to a useful size to build a rail fence.

I was sitting comfortably in my kitchen watching him hop in and out of the backhoe splitting these poles in a genius way only he could think of and I could tell he needed help. I pulled on a coat and boots and headed out knowing this has always been a stressful job for me and knowing hand signals would be involved. I was running through the different gestures in my head as I made my way to the barnyard. I must tell you this is not one of my favourite jobs on the farm but it needs to be done. When you see your Hero standing in front of the bucket of the backhoe and your job is to line up the bucket just right using his gestures then “slam it” into the post to split it hoping not to crush him; can you see where I am going with this? No stress here, he really trusts me and I have to trust my understanding of those hand signals.


First My Hero carves grooves with the chainsaw on the end of the post like a pie, depending on the size of the pole it is usually a three way cut. He lays the pole on the ground and places the groove in the edge of the cutting blade of the bucket. This is where hand signals and my scary part comes in. I inch the backhoe ahead a little at a time relying only on his hand gestures. He signals to move forward then his hand shows the stop signal, I slam on the brake. I usually find myself with one foot on the brake and one foot on the gas much like a car, I am always nervous during this lining up process because most times I can only see the top of My Hero’s head and the hand giving me those important signals.


Once the pole is lined up and the other end is against the solid block wall My Hero stands back out of the way and directs me to push down on the gas or in other words “slam it”, if I did it right and the post was Cedar it would split down the middle. This whole process would be repeated over and over until we would have six or sometimes eight perfectly split rails and I would hopefully not have the starting of a stress headache. If one of the posts happens to be Pine it will not split right with this method so a chainsaw is used to groove the line down the length of the pole and try to split it that way.

I must say I am getting very good at this job over the years and I can read those hand signals perfectly. I watch as My Hero stands off to the side wiping the sweat from his brow and the flying sawdust swirling in the wind covers his face, then I “slam it” for the last time completing enough posts for our rail fence. He is safe and the job is done. The correct hand signals are very important and maybe we should all know them just in case.



I must say this fence is definitely starting to come together nicely; don’t you think? Now you know why he is My Hero and always will be.

Later

49 comments:

  1. I am impressed! That's what I call teamwork! I love split rail fences, and yours looks great!

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  2. This sounds a little scary- so much trust and teamwork!

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  3. SO that's how split rails are made.
    Many thanks for the lesson B and Mr. Hero.

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  4. The time I spend splitting and piling wood with my hero have been some of my best times. xx

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  5. What a cool looking fence!

    All that hard work paying off :)

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  6. It's like you're bilingual!

    The fence looks gorgeous.

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  7. What a beautiful split rail fence. I never knew how it was done, but I have always liked them.

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  8. Being married to an iron worker that often is the signal-er for those big cranes you see on jobsites, we use those same hand signals often when working together.

    Gorgeous fence that you TWO built. :)

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  9. Miss B,
    You make me laugh. Before I was home full-time I refused to do hand signals. I don't like them, but sometimes hand signals are the better way. I am actually catching on to their meanings quickly.

    Oh the things a Farm/Ranch Wife must do. We got a cow in yesterday morning to pull a backwards calf. The cow was calm. She went in the alley buy would not put her head in the head gate. J says "I know this cow just hold the gate against her and it will be fine." 100# me vs. 1300# cow, I was not liking this idea. It was a HUGE calf and hard pull. The cow was a sweetheart.

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  10. You sound like HIS hero too! This is a very scary process but fence is stunning!

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  11. Wow Buttons ~ as always a great thought provoking post. Takes you right in to learning as you convey your thoughts so well. Hand signals that come as second nature for survival. Farm families that work side by side like that have such a deep connection, reminds me of pioneer families. Always admired that. That fence is remarkable, your Hero does great work ! Farming is a hard life but a good solid way of life that keeps you grounded and greatful doesn't it. God bless the hard working farmers.
    Hugs
    Willow

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  12. Now that's a great looking fence! We have mainly barbed wire or deer fencing here, so yours looks like a thing of beauty. Good job, my friend~

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  13. I like that kind of fencing ! Team work nothing like it ! Papa and I do the same makes it safer for all ! Thanks for sharing . Have a good day !

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  14. This fence is Breath-Taking Wonderful. Up until this very moment I never considered what it took to create one of these . . . NOW I am super impressed - in so many ways.

    Thank you for sharing this story.
    -g-

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  15. I am impressed!!! But there are reasons I do not live on a farm...

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  16. As always communication is key to a safe job and a happy marriage.

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  17. a very clever way to split those rails! and, yes, dangerous, too. the fence looks awesome!

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  18. Oh my goodness Buttons that is going to be a magnificent fence!!

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  19. Wow, that's a beautiful fence, B! I'm impressed by how you and your Hero work together as a team. True partners.

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  20. Nice Stihl! And an interesting way to split logs...that method seems more like something I would have come up with, than my DH. He tends to be more the Engineer that way, and I am the improvisational one.

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  21. What a great looking fence and an ingenious way of producing it!

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  22. Sounds very scary to me. I'm impressed, Buttons!

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  23. I am so tired. fencing? ugh. Im wrapping miles of wire...today its rainy...yay...yawn...

    your fence is beautiful, you are beautiful, your handling of the backhoe to split rail is beautiful...as usual!

    btw the auction was great - my second one and this time I only bidded against myself once... LOL spent $27.50 cents...got a bird feeder to replace my burnt one, a vintage glass bonsai tree, and a solid oak table...

    and now i will do everything in my power to make sure my foresterman doesnt see this post - there are some clean used utility poles that didnt burn on the forest side of things and we got permission to take them for free...

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  24. Great team work must be needed on a farm like yours. My hubby had his own construction company and is a master with wood, but no hand signals with me, he usually just yells. I will ask him about it though.

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  25. my hubby as well as farmer, works off farm as a heavy equipment operator. You are one brave lady to be in the drivers seat!Jim spent most of the weekend dismantling a fence and taking out posts- at someone elses farm- to get all the materials for free. I know that he will soon require a "smash" person to help place all the cedar posts. Time for a buddy from work who needs a good meal to be called upon! LOL. Safer for everyone if I do the cooking ;)

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  26. The fence looks awesome! I'm always a little scared when my husband pulls out the chainsaw!

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  27. That fence is amazing B! You and your Hero make the perfect team!! I am so impressed with what the two of you accomplished!! xx

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  28. it's all about teamwork, b!!

    i always laugh at my hubs with his chain saw. he rev's it up, then smiles and winks!!

    LOVE the fence!!

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  29. The fence looks ace - so rustic! Love it!

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  30. It"s a beautiful fence and a testimony to the importance of good communication!

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  31. I really, really like the fence! :)
    How awesome that you guys can work together and that you have learned a second language. ;)

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  32. I think this fence is amazing. :)

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  33. I think that you are his hero for being able to help him out so deftly.

    Not a job I would like to partake in, great hand signals or not. We learned some as children, in order to help our father back into tight spots with equipment.

    That was enough for me.

    Jen

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  34. You two are my hero farmers. This is a lovely tribute to your hero I bet he thinks the same about you. It sounds like an awfully dangerous job but the fence looks a treat. I doubt that would be an easy job either.

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  35. I know that knot in the belly feeling of being the helper! Hard work, but what a cool fence!

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  36. You sound like the perfect team, Buttons!!

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  37. Hey B! You know what you are doing...both of you! Love the fence.

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  38. Its a very nice fence. And interesting to know the work behind it ;)

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  39. Having been on the other end of the situation(holding a post while the driver pushes it in with the loader bucket)I couldn't agree more .Stay safe!

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  40. You two have devised a giant wood splitter. Ingenious. We've rented a splitter to break up blocked logs we buy for firewood. When that power is applied to the wood anything can happen. I've had chunks of firewood fly out and miss body parts. Even when you're careful life can be scary.

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  41. That sounds like a pretty scary job to me. Good for you getting out there and helping. And that fence looks great..

    Hugs~

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  42. I love your teamwork. You are a lucky lady and your Hero is a lucky guy. (He's pretty smart to think of getting it done this way!)

    Love how the fence is turning out - LOVE it!

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  43. I just love those kinds of fences. They are so beautiful. You are both so lucky to have each other.

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  44. I like these types of fences. Thanks for commenting on my blog.

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  45. ingenius! and that fence is beautiful! i recall my dad having some gas-powered apparatus for slipping wood. i guess i couldn't tell you if it was store bought or yet another thing men come up with to make chores a little easier... :)

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  46. once again I am shielding my eyes against reading the word "fence"...

    but oh WOW, what a fence you two built!

    ours just involves dangerous wire with sharp poky things - 4 strands worth...

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  47. Wow B...amazing amount of work to go into this and yes, I can certainly appreciate how stressful this must be. I'll never look at a split rail fence quite the same again!

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The mind grows by what it feeds on. J.G. Holland

Thank you so much for your comments, they mean more to me then I could ever express. Hug B

Please do not copy my work. If you like it let me know I am sure we can work something out. Copyright is in place.