Why I chainsaw

There are many things to do on a ranch. Most of them are fun. This includes spending days on end using a chainsaw – heck yeah! As awesome as it is to wield a power tool that big and dangerous for hours on end, there are actually good reasons to do so on a ranch.

One of the reasons, and there are many, is to clear brush. Here in New Mexico, at least where I live, there is a huge invasion of a particular tree called a juniper. For hundreds of years they have been kept at bay by fires, both ones set by lightning strikes and by the Natives. These trees are meant to be on rocky slopes of mesas and canyons, but now they are starting to cover the grasslands. They use about 80 gallons of water per day, taken straight from the water table and stolen from the surrounding plant life, including the native grasses. So as the junipers are eradicated from grasslands and rolling hills, more grass may grow, more wildlife may live, and I can grow more beef.

Another reason to use my chainsaw is to keep my fence lines clear. These junipers grow super fast; they will be only a few feet tall for the first 3 years, then after that they just shoot up – they can be over 6 feet tall before 10 years old. If they are allowed to stay in a fence for that long, they will grow right through the wire, push over the posts, and make big holes in the fence. That is a bad thing if I’m trying to keep livestock where I want them…so I take my chainsaw to whatever tree may be in the fence. It might take a while, but if I need to mend the fence that will take even more time. And I may lose livestock, or they might get injured getting through to the off-limits area.

Then the last reason I willingly take up the saw is to stop erosion. This may sound like an odd reason to cut trees, but I assure you it is not. All of the trees that I cut I strategically place in places that have been eroded by rain run-off. If I place these trees where the water runs and is cutting through the dirt, the foliage will slow the water enough to drop the silt that it is carrying, and will actually start healing the cuts. This also will allow more grass to grow in the new soil, more wildlife and livestock will be able to be on the ground, and as the water quits rushing off the ground it will soak in and actually replenish the water table…little by little.

That last reason is the best. I get to heal the land by running a chainsaw!

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