My brother was up for four days to help me get some work done to the campsite. I'd been living under an ultralight tarp I've had for years, but he helped me rig up a surplus M1 Abrams tank cover on a dyneema ridgeline in its place. This more or less tripled the covered area I have to weather under. I probably could have rigged it myself, but the fucker weighs almost 40 lbs and is awkwardly stiff after who knows how long in storage. Dragging it around on an 8 foot high ridgeline was irritating at best even with another tall guy to help.

The good news, other than the upgrade in square footage, is that should my little patch come under attack from chemical agents or be exposed to nuclear fallout, the tarp should handle it just fine. It's also fire retardant, meaning I don't have to be quite so worried about an errant ember holing my rain cover. I'm not sure what ungodly amount of taxpayer money this thing cost to buy, store, and eventually liquidate, but I got it for about $125, brandy-new. Over the years I've come to realize that judicious sampling of the global military surplus market is a surefire way to reclaim surplus value back out of a system that leaves very few other opportunities to do so, as long as elegance or the fashion of the season is not high on your list of priorities. The guylines that came attached to it would have cost more than that, were one to purchase the same quality rope in bulk on the commercial market.

Of even greater help was a second set of hands to take care of some of the really big trees around the campsite. We spent most of the extended weekend dropping trees just to make room to drop an enormous twinner that was really bristling with widowmakers. The taller, scarier half of the twinner was all of 70 feet, and the whole thing was crookeder than a dog's hind leg and twisted as Nixon. It came down with less drama than it could have, but more than I would have liked. The only major issue was that it shifted backwards onto the back-cut and trapped my saw. Without my bro, I would have had to drive an hour one-way to get my other saw to try to finish the drop, but with his help I was able to put the prybar into the back-cut behind the saw and heave on it with 165 pounds of gravity-assisted fury while he snatched the saw like Excalibur out of the stone. After touching up the front notch, it did eventually, slowly, fall in exactly the direction I wanted, but only after a few hangs as the entire mass shifted on its axis due to tension in the twisted grain, stalling a few times as I made careful and small cuts to ease it along.

I believe previously mentioned that I was recommended an old-school timberman to cut a driveway and the clearing. I talked to him on the 5th and he was exactly to my liking. After checking with the town offices about a driveway permit (and some other things), I was told that I didn't need one as long as all I was doing was dropping trees - not cutting or altering a road culvert, or laying a gravel bed or paving. This ended up being incorrect. The highway foreman was cut into the e-mail chain and informed me that cutting trees inside the roadway right-of-way did in fact require a permit, and that he noticed I (my guy) had already started work. I panicked for a moment, but he was most friendly and offered to talk me through filling out the necessary form. I got it done and the town clerk also went above and beyond, helping me get it submitted via e-mail outside of the normal process and piggybacking the town's e-payment system to get the payment in same-day.

The timberman offered to leave the best spruce from the clearing for me to use for the timberframe I have planned for next year, going so far as to ask where I'd like it stacked to be ready to peel and mill. As musing, as my brother and I did, about the manpower multiplier of a chainsaw (What do you suppose one person with a chainsaw can do as opposed to some number of them with axes and saws? What about stone axes and embers?), and embracing the reality of doing this entire thing mostly alone and by hand, having two weeks or more worth of hard labor done in an hour or two by machine was a welcome gift.

I also scored a line on smoking deals for dimensional lumber. There's a high end modular home manufacturer not so far away from the acreage, and their forklift man has a sinecure of sorts disposing of odd lot lumber, or stuff that doesn't meet their (very strict) standards. I ended up with enough 2x4x8' to take care of all of the floor joists, cabinet bodies, and then some for about a buck and a quarter a piece. When I told him what I was up to, he informed me that since this is building season, there will be a steady stream of by-4s, 6s, and 10s all season, and he'd give me a call before he posted anything publicly to see what I might want.

Hopefully I get the go-ahead for the driveway permit by Monday. Not having to carry everything up to the camp on my back would be huge. My local friends have all offered to help me schlep, and while I am absolutely prepared to make 600 trips carrying lumber and gravel and concrete, I would certainly rather let the truck do the work.