The snowdrops have been blooming along the road to cabins by the lake in New Vrindaban and the early daffodils are almost ready. We drive past them because we, my son Tulasi and myself, have been going up to the Garden of Seven Gates to clear some land for planting nut trees.

There is a strip of land between the road to Manasaganga’s and the fence of the garden that has been let go wild. It will be a great place for nut trees as the access will be easy and the ground is currently unproductive.

There are some weed trees that have grown in there that need to be cleared. It has been quite challenging to cut them as they are infested with fox grapes.  A useless weed grape that has no useful fruit but tries to make up for that lack by vigorous tree choking growth.

I had approached the temple’s wood cutter suggesting he cut them for wood for the temple, something he would be doing anyway, but he didn’t want to get involved with them.

I like to have all my wood for next winter up in the pile by the end of April as that gives it all summer long to cure out and cured wood is the most efficient to burn. I was going to have to cut some anyway so I decided I would go ahead and donate my time to the project and take the wood in exchange for using my equipment and gas.

I had plenty of wood to cut on my own property that would have been faster to cut but this needed to be done and rather than hire someone to do it, it was cheaper for me to take the wood as exchange. It is the labor that makes the value in firewood.

GEETA (the corporation that cares for the cows in NV), also soon to be known as Krishna’s  ECO Village, was using some of its gas money to fund tree planting in New Vrindaban. I got a budget to work with and this nut tree planting was one component of it. The goal is 1000 fruit and nut trees in ten years.  We did get 200 planted the first two years of the project and this spring it looks like we are going to get well over another 200 planted. That includes the temple plantings plus private plantings subsidized by ECO Village.

The trees were very challenging to cut because of the grapes.  In one place where there were 4 6″ diameter (.15 m) close together we cut three of them  and they remained standing, being all intertwined with grapes with the remaining tree.

Last fall I had bought  a power pole pruner and we had to use that to cut through all the grapes to get the trees to fall.  It is like a little chain saw on the end of a 6′ (1.8 m) pole that you can reach up and cut limbs or, in this case, grape vines with. Like a weed whacker with a chain saw on the end of it.

We couldn’t get all the vines because they grow 20 and 30′ (8 m) but enough so the weight of the trees can often pull then down, at least closer to the ground so we can cut through the vines some more.

Another problem with the vines is that when you cut a standing tree, it doesn’t always hinge at the point of the cut, but the butt can swing back towards you.  So it is dangerous and takes a lot of planning and care.

Tulasi is learning how to use the chain saw, and when cutting an aiming notch did it too deep and got the blade pinched. I chastised him mildly and pointed out his error.  Rookie mistake. They say repetition is the key to learning and he got that when later I was cutting an aiming notch and failed to account for the torque  the vines were exerting on the tree and also got the blade pinched.

Fortunately I have an extra blade and chain so we could disconnect the main part of the saw from the blade and put the extra on it in order to cut above the pinched blade to free it (them).

The whole endeavor was further complicated by there being an electric power line running parallel to the road we were working along (the pole in the picture is NOT the power line, just some leftover).  Several trees would have hit it if we had dropped them the way they leaned, so some ropes and aiming notches were required to avoid them.

The whole thing is like solving a puzzle, how to drop trees laced with vines and avoid power lines, but we are making a little progress each day.  I can only do it for a couple of hours before I get exhausted, but sure and steady wins the race.