As usual, a large limb has broken off onto our front yard during this late March snowfall. UD‘s practiced eye sees this one as quite loppable. She’s more worried about traumatized early spring shoots.

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She’s just back from her first lopping.

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The Tao of Lopping.

With each clean cut yielding a core of yellow wood, there’s a good feeling: the offshoots from the main trunk give easily, and it’s pleasant to think you’re putting things right branch by branch.

With cold fingers despite your gloves (first you try rubbery garden gloves, then a rather nice pair of  leather ones), you gather a few lopped branches and toss them over the wooden fence so the town maintenance men will pick them up.

But then you wonder:  Would they prefer one large unlopped limb?  Too late to ask the question; you’ve lopped the thing… But you think of the wood chipper and wonder if you’re doing things right.

The tao of lopping:  There is no right.  There is no wrong.  There is snow falling on ‘thesda, your cold hands, your pleasure at each clean cut.

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Or, if you like:

The tao of Sheryl  SandbergLean in.

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5 Responses to “Snow Falling on ‘thesda”

  1. Polish Peter Says:

    For readers seeking a more aggressive lopping experience, I recommend the Alligator:
    http://www.blackanddecker.com/outdoor/LP1000.aspx. It’s a lopper with a mini-chainsaw.

    Makes short work of the larger limbs after you’ve lopped off the small branches the traditional manual way, leading to a satisfying conclusion of the total lopping exercise.

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Polish Peter: Scary.

  3. Polish Peter Says:

    Actually, I have one of these, and it’s one of the best tools I’ve ever bought. We lose a lot of branches, sometimes whole trees, at the Polish Peter house. First we get out the manual loppers, either the bypass or the anvil type. We have one of each, both over 40 years old. They handle the branches we put out by the curb. But thick branches for firewood require a saw. We could use the 60-year-old bow saw that my father already had when I was a child, but for hardwood up to about 4 inches, nothing beats the Alligator. It’s especially good for cutting a lot of short pieces to use in a fire pit, or chopping up pickets from a fallen-down fence. Beyond that, it’s time for the chainsaw, then the wedges and sledgehammer. Family fun for all.

  4. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Polish Peter: Do you do your own blade sharpening? I’m wondering how to sharpen various blades (lopper, manual mower, etc.) – someone told me you can go to Home Depot?

  5. Polish Peter Says:

    UD: I have a grinding wheel that I use for sharpening power mower blades, but I’ve not tried sharpening a chain saw blade using a special file. I was going to take mine in for an overhaul to a local garden supply place that does such work. I haven’t tried sharpening my lopper blades either, although they probably would work a lot better if I did. The anvil lopper would benefit from sharpening because it now crushes more than cuts cleanly as it used to, but the bypass lopper doesn’t seem to need it yet, probably because it didn’t get used as much during its first three decades. I’d think that someone who sharpens scissors could handle loppers. On a manual mower, I think a file is needed and a good touch for the curving edge.

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