Last night we got back from 4 days on a 21,000 acre ranch where we learned how to use chainsaws and the basics of fighting wildfires. It was pretty exciting, except that I had a cold for the first 3 days (a really quick one!), so I was nervous about bucking limbs with chainsaws when I knew that my ears were so clogged up that I'd missed part of the instruction... But it turned out fine. My tidbits of ballet training helped me a lot with my posture while handling the chainsaw, so I was able to make my small amount of energy last a bit longer.
We spent several hours in the classroom with our chainsaw books learning proper terminology for different things we would encounter in the woods and different types of cuts we would be making. Thanks to my photographic memory, I could remember the pictures in the books, but not necessarily the words for them, haha. So bucking limbs went fine. I knew to be careful with the tip of the saw bar so that it wouldn't kick back, and I learned how to sharpen the chain and clean the air filter and put fresh oil and gas in the saw.
The next day we spent a while in the classroom but then we went out to cut down trees. Snags are dead trees that are hazardous because they are going to fall down eventually. Our main purpose in cutting down snags was in preparation for a controlled burn that was coming up. We didn't want snags falling across the fire line, which would carry the fire outside the controlled area. The snag I chose was the biggest of the day, and my leader let me do it because I was patient and waited for all of my other group members to cut down their snags before me. The tree was about 2 feet DBH (diameter at breast height) and about 60 feet tall (we measured it by walking it's length once it was felled). We also attempted counting its rings and figured it was about 100 years old.
My face cut was pretty good, although tough on my wrists; and then my leader, Evan, bore cut the center out, and then I did the back strap. It fell exactly where I aimed it and didn't get caught up in any other trees. Success!