Thursday, May 15, 2008

Hauling timber

Did I mention that one of the Kingdom of Trelystan's venerable Sycamores needed felling? Yes? Thought so.

Rob came along last week to do the deed. He strapped himself into harness, helmet and crampons, secured ropes to the highest branches, and gathering a mighty chainsaw, took himself to the very top and began taking the tree to pieces bit by bit. The first bits were easy - with a few delicate passes of the saw, little light twiggy bits dropped quietly to the ground. The tree's skeleton was gradually revealed and these branches were dismembered too - Rob cleverly remembering not to cut off the length he was standing on. (Lesson No.1 at Tree Surgeon Academy perhaps.) These heavier pieces fell with thuds - some were lowered by ropes if there was a chance they would fall on something we wanted to keep. As he progressed down the tree the crashes of falling limbs became heavier - it's quite a dramatic process.

We surveyed the devastation afterwards; there's a mountain of wood, brash and sawdust. Rob helpfully points out that 'Yup, there's three times as much tree when it hits the deck.'
We agree - standing upright a tree is, indeed, quite an organised thing. We contemplate the work involved restoring some sort of order to this part of the dingle.

We start by burning the brash on a bonfire of municipal proportions - the mass is reduced considerably and quite quickly. Smaller logs are to be hauled to where they can be sawn into more manageable pieces. That still leaves some mighty pieces of wood which will have to be dealt with in situ before stacking and storing. The final 3 metres of the trunk still stands, Alan hopes to fell and plank it for timber. And the rest? A year or two to season and dry out and we have a lot of firewood. Sycamore will make good chopping boards too. I suggest carving out some huge bowls from some of the big 'slices' of trunk.

Today, while Alan repaired the damage caused to our stream bed by tons of falling wood, I continued to haul and stack branches. It was a fairly mindless task - good 'thinking time'.

I think about moving things as little as possible. A dry stone waller aims to pick up a piece of stone only once. How many times will this wood be handled before it eventually turns to ash on our wood burner? I do not like to do that sum, having moved some pieces more than once already. I think of the times a item is handled in the supermarket before it gets it 8, or 10? It passes the time, and one thought leads to another.

I think about burning calories. Digging apparently uses up roughly 360 calories per hour. Hauling logs must be the equivalent of digging surely? On that basis I decide to do an extra half hour. The chocolate biscuit which sits enticingly alongside my cup of tea can then be eaten with a clear conscience I think.


Elizabethd said...

Always sad to see a tree go down, but how nice to think of it going on as useful articles, always to be remembered.

ChrisH said...

Hope you do get some nice boards and bowls from your tree. Hauling wood? I'd need more than one choccy biscuit!

Zoƫ said...

my nephew Adam is training at Sparsholt to be an aboriculturist, its amazing how fast they can fell a tree, compared to how long it took to grow, always a sad time I think.

Wonderful that you can recycle and reuse the wood that way. Do you have a lathe to turn it, or will yopu carve it by hand?

snailbeachshepherdess said...

There's a wood working group in Pontesbury for making your own bowls etc..Thursday evenings I think.
Have just been catching up on older posts ...those photos of the plants .amazing! We couldnt see the smoke of the tractor...honest!


Cor, sounds like you're going to be busy with that tree for years! Love wooden bowls and chopping boards though, so save some for me.

Can't bear trees being felled, even if it's better if they are. They're so majestic, aren't they? And took such a damn long time to grow. Something beautiful reduced to an ugly stump in a matter of minutes. My husband would have the whole lot down in our garden if he had his evil way - but he's right that we'd get more sun!

Frances said...

As Chris has said, you need more than one biscuit.

That sycamore will now have some more lives, if the larger pieces can be transformed into beautiful boards and bowls. And the firewood will keep someone warm.

I very much liked what you wrote about moving something a few times as possible.


Pam said...

So sad to see a tree come down isn't it. We felled one lasy year. My husband had the ingenious idea to burn the stump out. After 12 months, he surrounded the stump with a charcoal firepit and burnt it out. It took a few days but viola! All gone and no stump grinding. And he's happy as he got to play with fire, so it's a win-win for all!
Oh, and you deserve at least 5 chocolate hobnobs for hauling wood.

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

Shame to see the tree come down - but there was no choice really and at least you will be able to use the wood to keep you warm and when you make something - bowls . . . then the tree will be immortalized.

I wonder how many calories we use up when we are thinking . . .LOL

Anil P said...

Was it its age?