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Hauling logs

Do you remember those logs? The ones I was planning to haul in the summer 2014? Well, during this summer we hauled some of them, first together with Sami, then together with my son. But some of the logs were so heavy that it was extremely fatiguing to drag them, even when there were two persons working. So, I've been slowly thinking how to best transport those heavier logs.

Dragging them with a horse would be the most natural answer, but I've realized that it is kind of a level 4 task. And if I still have some level 1 and 2 problems with Raiku, it is not wise to try rush the training process to more advanced stages. Well, but since I haven't been that active with getting those remaining level 1 and 2 problems solved, there has not been any significant advance with my horse training. I'm not going to go into details now, but just to make this less cryptic: Typically, we don't want our horses trying to push with their shoulders - that is one of the things they do if they have to wrestle with another horses, and a human is sure to lose that kind of duel. So, better train the horse to react to small gentle signals. If I want Raiku to take a step backwards, I don't need to poke her shoulders with my finger, it is enough just to make a small gesture in the air, kind of a shaking my fingers towards Raiku's personal space - she understands that as a signal that I'm asking her to take a step backwards. Now, when a horse drags a load, she is actually pushing forward with her shoulders, and the rest of the load is attached to the horse collar. So, this is kind of a complete opposite of what we usually ask the horse to do. The horse collar puts some serious strain on the horse shoulders, and we are asking the horse to use force to pull against the pressure on her shoulders. This is level 4 stuff; using just slight small gestures to ask the horse to strain her muscles to lean against physical pressure.

There is a small path in the forest, and some of the logs are lying near the path. Otherwise the terrain is uneven and covered with a soft layer of moss. I've been thinking if I could use some sort of cart to haul those logs which are near the path. But anything with wheels is not going to work in the uneven mossy terrain, there carrying or dragging are the best ways to go. A winch would be good for dragging those heavier logs. I have two different types of winches, but they are both bit too small to be very effective in this kind of work. An ideal would be bigger winch with something like 10 - 15 metres of cable - I'd guess anything bigger than that becomes too heavy to be portable. Securing a winch to a growing tree, rolling out the cable and attaching it to a log, it should be possible to slowly drag any log outside the path. Well, but having my main focus on the house renovation project, I haven't been that worried about those logs.

It was one Monday morning, I was driving to work and had some time before my first customer, so I stopped at a car repair shop to buy a small bottle of repair paint. Another of these small things I've been postponing for ages. When a ladder fell on my car, it not only shattered the windscreen, but also left a minor damage in the car top. I don't care if there is a dent here or there in my car, but it would be wise to re-paint the damaged area so that it doesn't start to rust. And I knew that in this shop they sell paints just for this kind of purpose, bit like nail polish for a car. I picked about the right shade of red paint. There were some other customers, so I had to wait for my turn. And while waiting I had the time to look around what all kind of stuff they sell. Near the counter there was a box which said "a battery operated heavy-duty winch, can be mounted on an ATV or nearly anywhere". I got curious, thinking if something like that could be my solution for dragging the logs. For example, if I'd work together with my son, I could carry a battery, and he could carry the winch. Then we'd just use a thick rope to secure the winch to a tree, connect the cable to a log, plug on the power and watch the winch do all the dragging. Well, maybe, maybe, but I'm not that sure... Then it was my turn, I paid the paint and asked the salesperson about that winch. He opened the box and we examined the leaflet inside - it has 10 metres of cable, the mounting system seemed simple and sound, and there is also a crank for manual use. Made in China. But the price was affordable, and suddenly I felt like buying one - what the heck, this is anyhow just the kind of machinery I like. I bought the winch.

Later on that week, it was Thursday, I went to the local cinema to see The Martian. I enjoyed the movie and found it inspiring. " At some point, everything's gonna go south on you and you're going to say, this is it. This is how I end. Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work. That's all it is. You just begin. You do the math. You solve one problem and you solve the next one, and then the next." This, exactly this. The next day I took my hand truck and used a side grinder to cut most of the ledge away. I went to the forest, walking the small path to the place where we left five logs. Those logs were so heavy that we could barely drag them together with my son. We got them uphill through mossy soil to the path, but at that point we were so exhausted that we couldn't haul them all the way to my yard. So, I tilted the hand truck to horizontal position, lifted one end of one log on top of the truck, and used a light cargo strap to tie the log there. I firmly grabbed the hand truck, walking backwards and dragging the log and the truck behind me. That worked - I was able to take the log next to my yard. I tied another cargo strap to the hand truck and went to fetch the next log. That time I was walking forward, with the other cargo strap running over my chest and shoulder, again dragging the cart and the log behind me. A wheel - such a great invention in the history of mankind! I got all five logs hauled next to my yard. There are still some more left, some heavier, and some farther away from the path.

Today I again had some time and energy to work with the logs. First I went to a location which had eight or nine logs, all in a wet mossy spot away from the path. Two of them seem so heavy that I'm probably going to need the winch to move them. But before that I tried the smaller ones. I lifted the smallest one up and carried it on my shoulder. No problem. When I went to lift the next log, I noticed that there are plenty of edible mushroom in the moss around the log. Cantharellus tubaeformis! Usually there are plenty of them, but this autumn I only found a handful of them after checking twice all of the typical places. So, it seems that this year the typical pattern didn't work - I'd guess most of the usual places have been too dry for the mushroom to grow. But here it was more shadow and moisture, and plenty of mushroom. Since I didn't have a basket with me, I took of my hat and filled it with mushroom. And continued hauling logs on my shoulder.

I also went to take a look of the thickest logs. Luckily enough, they also happen to be near the path, and rather close to my yard. So, I hope the winch would be good for dragging those. Maybe I could even combine my methods, placing other end of a log on top of the hand truck, and then attaching the winch cable to the truck. If the truck wheels are of any use in the moss outside the path, that is. Well, but today I tried the smallest of those logs with the hand truck, and managed to haul it home. After that log I had to quit - I went to fry some of the mushroom together with onion and pasta. After eating the meal I left to see today's customers. But, yeah, at this point I feel that I'm going to get those logs hauled before the winter hits =) Like, one and a half year later than I was hoping, but that is the point of this story - not to give up, not to get anxious of things delaying, but just keeping on solving a problem after another.

Well, for me hauling these logs has been one of the symbols of recovering from depression. As, it all comes down to the feeling of "nooo, I can't do this" or "yes, I'm able to do this!" I think there is a lot of all kinds of self-help literature out there, but I haven't been reading any of those. Generally speaking, because personally I feel that in my case words are of little help. This has not been a cognitive question - in my rational mind I have somewhat realistic beliefs about what I am capable of doing, but it has been the subconscious / emotional / bodily side which hinders me and sometimes makes me feel "no, I can't, I just can't, no matter how I think about it, I just feel that I can't". So, what happens here? I take a look at a pile of 3.7 metre logs lying in the forest. I perceive their light wooden colour, I smell their odour of spruce sap, and the heap of logs appears as a problem too big to tackle for me. Now, qualities like the colour of the wood, or the smell of the sap, they are "out there", my perception of them doesn't change depending of how I think or how I believe. If I'd say to myself "these logs are red in colour", no matter how much I'd repeat that sentence, I'd still see the logs as being light wood in colour. Then what about the "problem too big"-part? That, naturally, depends on how I feel myself capable of getting things done.

Philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty used this kind of example; suppose a person is hiking a mountain trail. Without any thinking, he perceives certain obstacles either as "climbable" or "unpassable". And that doesn't depend on cognitive assertion, it is more about his sensory system working together with his bodily schema - even before the perception enters the conscious mind, it is processed and evaluated according to the persons bodily ability to climb obstacles. Therefore, qualities like "climbable" or "unpassable" appear to the conscious mind without any cognitive effort, just like qualities like "red in colour" or "the smell of the fir sap". Now, what is interesting here is that we are talking about a process which is not under the direct control of the conscious mind, but still the process is not fixed, not completely pre-wired, but dynamic. The perception of "climbable" or "unpassable" will vary as person develops his climbing skills.

So, similarly, even before any rational thinking, before any cognitive beliefs, somewhere deep in our psyche, there seems to be a generic, overall feeling of "yes, I'm capable of doing things" or "there's nothing I can do about anything". And, of course, built on top of this generic primitive sense of capability, are other more differentiated feelings, like ones bodily understanding of climbing skills etc. Now, severe depression affects that deep primitive feeling of being capable. For a depressed person even a tiny problem can appear as unsolvable. And no amount of rational thinking is going to change that, just like no amount of rational thinking is going to make class of milk appear as red in colour. So, it is question of finding something, anything, which speaks to the deep subconscious mind and changes something there. And, looking back to the time when I decided to try hauling these logs, there has been a lot of those small, unpredictable, non-cognitive things which have contributed to me feeling more and more like "oh, sure I can!".

So, today when I look at a heap of heavy logs, I perceive them being light wooden in colour, smelling like fir sap, and like a nice physical exercise. As, sometimes I like to eat like a horse, so sure I need to balance that with working like a horse =)

Cantharellus tubaeformis
Cantharellus tubaeformis
This is about the heaviest log I can carry
This is about the heaviest log I can carry
My modified hand truck
My modified hand truck
Working like a horse
Working like a horse
tags: 
diary
depression
homesteading
philosophy
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Comments

Linda and I did some work for Paul Wheaton(www.permies.com) out in Montana, helping to peel logs for a house structure. He had a piece of equipment called a log arch. Very similar in principle to your hand-truck-with-straps invention! We pulled some good-sized logs with a battery-powered utility vehicle and the log arch. Good job being a horse :)

Such a nice diary page - so simple and yet nice to read. But I think logs are still to heavy for one man..
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