Cutting Down Trees so a Passive Solar Cabin Can Collect Sunlight
I didn’t want to do it, really. I have spent a year mulling over this situation trying to figure out if there was any other way, but I came to the conclusion that it needed to be done. Last weekend I cut down two very large Pine trees that were blocking the sunlight to a Passive Solar Cabin I built last year. It hasn’t been a big deal, because at first no one was living there. Then, when it was occupied this summer the trees were a welcome source of shade from the hot summer sun. Now, with winter on us, the little cabin needs the low horizon sunlight to help the cabin accumlate the solar gain it was designed for. So far, it does an excellent job – after 11 am. The Pines just wouldn’t allow the light to penetrate the large south facing windows until a few minutes past 11 every morning. Now that the trees are down, the cabin has an unobstructed southerly access to the early morning sun (well almost, one more tree to go); helping it to build its solar gain several hours earlier each day. Here’s an old photo of the cabin. It now has another window and a front porch.
Now, back to the trees. I have cut down hundreds of trees in my lifetime and most with a lot less thought than I gave these two. These tw0 Pines were situated on the edge of a field and have lived a good life. They were very healthy, strong and vibrant. That’s why it has been so hard for me to cut them down. It’s almost like cutting someone like me down, right in the prime of my life, with so much to give and so much to become. I know I’m being a little dramatic here, but they really were fine specimens. After the deed was done and the two pines were on the ground I went immediately to the trunk of the older of the two. It was a very large tree but relatively young. In fact, it was younger than me and has only been on this earth for around 31 years! My suspicions that these trees lived a good life were also confirmed by studying the growth rings of the trees. The rings were wide and distinct year after consecutive year – indicating the tree has had plenty of water and sunlight to help it grow to it’s current size in so few years. That coupled with being on an edge of a field and having very little competition from other trees for sunlight, these trees have lived a relatively easy life compared to their forest canopy cousins who compete everyday for every sunbeam they receive.
The only solace I get from seeing the trees on the ground is knowing that I will use portions of these trees as posts and beams in future cabin projects. Afterall, I bought a chain saw mill a few years ago and have still yet to use it. I think I have a real good reason now.