Daily Prompt, thoughts, writing

The art of tree felling

The Art of Tree Felling.

How hard is it to fell a Tree? Pretty darn easy really, all you need is a tree and a chainsaw.
How hard is it to fell a tree in the direction you choose? Again not overly difficult. Given the right conditions all you need is the tree, the chainsaw and the ability to scarf a tree properly.
Even a tree leaning in one direction can be scrafed, roped and persuaded to drop in the direction you want it if done right. t.

Having lived in the bush for the best part of thirty years we’ve lopped, chopped and felled more trees than I can remember. In that time we’ve made a few errors, avoided a few accidents and been surprised by such wonderful things as bee hives as trees crash to the ground, but the one thing we have never done is cause any damage.

The reason we’ve never caused any damage is because we were taught by one of the best in the industry, a guy who’s family heritage dates back more than 150 years of timber cutters and axemen. This is a guy whose family has held more than 200 National wood chopping titles in the last sixty years. A guy who can cut a kangaroo out of a tree stump with only a chainsaw and a 32 inch bar.

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In today’s world where Health and Safety dictates everything and everyone from the chainsaw operator to the truck driver needs a piece of paper that says they’ve attended a course which offers little in way of skills training and a lot by the way of lecturing, guys like our neighbour are few and far between. Not because he taught us how to drop a tree but because he taught us how to drop a 120 foot gum tree on a dime whilst considering the world around it.

After nearly 30 years of it’s not a skill we take lightly. Whenever a tree needs to come down we carefully consider where it’s going to fall, does it need persuasion, is it safe for both the chainsaw operator and anyone else, as well as many other factors.

We have dropped fifty foot elms beside houses without damage to the house. We’ve dropped small forests of pine trees on farm paddocks without damaging fences and we’ve dropped a 100 foot gum tree between a immobile classic car and a house without even scratching the car. We’ve even dropped trees that the so called professionals with their certificates in chainsaw operation claimed could not be dropped without damage to surrounding property.

In our local area tree loppers are a dime a dozen, operators come and go, long term businesses struggle to keep workers because of the working conditions and the pressure to complete jobs, especially in the stormy season, becomes too high for some operators to manage. Skills are no longer taught, instead lectures concentrate on how risky the job of tree lopping is. Courses on chainsaw operation and tree lopping spend more than 70% of the time attempting to teach how dangerous chainsaws are not how to use them. This then sends out over confident, under skilled, workers with potentially dangerous equipment and tools, not a good mix.

The worst effort we’ve seen from these certificate carrying, partially skilled workers happened a few years ago whist we were re-fencing the farm. We were flat out re-fencing thirteen kilometres of internal fencing on the property and after a particularly bad storm an old dead tree which stood and estimated 110 feet tall started too loose limbs. Because of it’s proximity to both the driveway and animals the tree had to go but we did not have to time to drop it ourselves because of the time demands on getting the farm fully operational.

So we hired the biggest and most known tree lopping service in the area. They turn up with back hoes, stump grinders, two trucks, countless chainsaws, ropes and chains and six orange dayglo shirted workmen. The area was cleared of animals, the driveway was cleared of utes and these experienced tree loppers set about cutting down the dead tree with the only requirement that they do not drop it on the newly strung fence line.

So what did they do? Well they didn’t hit the new fence, but instead of dropping it on the driveway between two fences they chose to land it on the old fence line. Their excuse? Well it would have taken us another hour to cut the tree up if it was on the driveway and you are going to replace that fence anyway. However the best bit came when the owner of the company, aware of how pissed off we were that his workers had rendered one of paddocks useless for animals until we got the tree off the fence and the fence restrung, decided the best compensation he could offer was a slab (24 cans) of beer.

So when it comes to the original question, how hard is it to fell a tree? It’s not, but dropping it with skill and consideration is a obvious dying art.

tree lopping

Click on the above picture to expand it.

On the left hand side of the curving driveway was the new fence line they were told not to hit. On the right hand side the old fence. The old grey tree they dropped can be seen laying next to the driveway where we left it for future firewood after getting it off the fence. Before we cut the tree up it extended outside the boundary of the above image ruining the fence line from the silver shed which can be seen through the trees to the somewhere just outside the bottom corner of the shot. Apparently it’s only worth a slab (approx $40) to fix that fence…..about the same value we attribute to chainsaw operators certificates these days.

2 Comments

  1. Any job can be done with skill, but to few take the time.

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