A Good Example

2 Feb


By:  Tom Heck

A Good Example

                When we bought our farm here many years ago, we were pleased to see that there was a wood furnace in the basement of the house.  Buying this farm put us deeply in debt, so we were glad that we could heat our house with firewood instead of costly fuel.  So over all these years, I’ve never bought a drop of fuel to heat our home with.  Instead it’s been all firewood – and lots of it.

                Over time, the furnace in the basement came to the end of its useful life.  Since we enjoy a nice cozy house in the wintertime to come into after doing chores out in the cold, the decision to stay with wood heat was an easy one to make.  This time though, we bought an outdoor wood furnace to heat our home with.  In time we named it “Little Smokie.”  I like having the fire and firewood outside, it’s a lot safer and less work to keep going.   I also like the fact that I don’t have to get up at 2 a.m. on bitter cold nights to reload the furnace.  Our outdoor one holds enough wood to keep it going all night long.  Another plus with this is that we heat all of our house and milkhouse hot water with it which really helps save money.  At times we even take hot water from the milkhouse to melt the ice in our cattle’s water tanks.

                So doing all this with Little Smokie requires a lot of firewood.  But that’s no problem, we have a big woods on our farm and we enjoy making firewood.  Every year late in the fall, Catherine, Joshua and I head down to the woods to cut trees for firewood.  First we try to cut the trees that have died recently and those that have went down due to storms.  After that, we tend to cut trees along the edges of our fields.

                It’s very peaceful working in the woods in the fall of the year.  Often times we see deer, squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons and other wildlife out there.  Also, we see many birds out there, including large flocks of geese flying overhead telling us that winter is on the way.

                But, working out there with large trees and chainsaws can be dangerous too.  Sometimes a tree doesn’t fall the way a person thinks it will.  So when falling a tree a person needs to be extremely careful.

                A while back, I decided to cut a large maple tree down that was on the edge of my corn field.  I looked it over carefully and decided that it would want to fall to the north.  So I cut a small wedge out of the north side of it and then started cutting through from the south side.  Well, I got almost through and then the tree instead of falling to the north came back and pinched my chainsaw tight.

                I knew I was in a dangerous situation.  I looked it over carefully and prayed for wisdom.  I decided the best thing to do would be to get the five log chains that I had on the tractor that I drove to the woods that day, hook them to the tree and pull it to the north.

                I’ve always told my helpers to always keep their eyes on a tree that’s been partially cut when working around it because there is always the chance it could go down unexpectedly.  People have gotten hurt and sometimes killed in such situations.

                So when my chainsaw got stuck I asked Joshua to bring a log chain and put it on the north side of the tree reminding him to keep an eye on the tree at all times.  He got the first chain and put it there while I went after a second one.  I was putting my chain on the north side of the tree and following my own advice – keeping my eyes on the tree at all times.  It’s a good thing that I was!  As I was about to put my chain down, a small breeze picked up out of the south.  The large maple tree started to come straight north.  Immediately, I dropped my chain, stepped back and to the side of the tree trunk, grabbed my chainsaw, which was now free, and pulled it out.  The tree crashed down right on top of the chain that I had just dropped on the ground seconds earlier!  If I hadn’t followed my own advice and kept my eyes on the tree, I would have been killed!  The way it was, we were all perfectly safe and we gave thanks to God.

                I have always sought to give my children good advice and to follow the advice I give them.  Too many times parents tell their kids, “Do as I say and not as I do.”  Many children do as their parents do and end up ruining their lives.  Parents need to realize that their actions speak a lot louder than their words.  But, when their actions line up with their words they leave a powerful lasting impression on their children’s lives.  The Bible says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”  This is most certainly true, but we must realize that we need to live rightly before them everyday ourselves.  Then we can expect them to listen to us, follow our example and be blessed.  If we do this we also will be truly blessed.  I know I am, the big maple tree crashing to the ground didn’t hurt me a bit.

Tom Heck, his wife Joanne, and their two children, Catherine and Joshua, own and operate a 35 cow, 159 acre dairy farm in northwestern WI.  Contact Tom at: lifeonthefamilyfarm@gmail.com   Copyright © 2014 by Tom Heck.  All rights reserved.


                      Tom falling a tree.

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