Category Archives: Land

Smoko #1

Blogs and chainsaws

I find blogs a bit odd.  Everyone has opinions, ideas, stories and what have you, but does that make them worth reading?  The descendents of Narcissus gaze at their reflection in their monitors and fall in love with their own witticisms.  Stuff their friends took the piss out of for weeks last time they said it suddenly becomes immortalised, and to a lesser-informed reader may appear even wise, influencing an entire generation who get all their information via google towards who knows what madness.

Sounds right up my alley, don’t know why I haven’t started one before.

Of course, I’m not starting one now either.  But T said I should do a guest blog for her page, and it’s time for a cup of tea anyway.  And the kettle is on the potbelly which I only just lit, so I might be waiting a few minutes, so what the hell.

Let me tell you about my chainsaw.  Every man should use a chainsaw at least once.  It’s what makes you a man. That and chopping off chicken’s heads for dinner.

Okay, that’s not true, there’s probably more manly things out there, but there’s nothing for making you feel simultaneously tough as nails and utterly shit scared than working with something that can take your head off in the blink of an eye.  It gives you an adrenalin rush that’s second to none when the tree starts dropping, no joke.  When I turn the saw off all I can hear is my blood pumping.

So, I bought a chainsaw a few weeks ago, to start clearing all the trees that block our winter sun from our solar system (and us).  I have used a chainsaw before but only for chopping firewood and not for about 13 years, so taking down 15-to-25 meter high trees is a wee bit scary.  I read the manual cover to cover, looked up a few tutorials online on How To Cut Down Trees, drank a cup of tea and went chopping.

I started with a couple of small ones to get a feel for the saw, and the way trees want to fall.  There are a couple of tricks you can use to estimate where a tree will fall (or rather more importantly, land).  One is to stand at 90 degrees to the intended tree fall path and hold up a pencil.  Walk backwards or forwards until the pencil covers the tree in your line of sight, and then move the pencil to the horizontal, one end touching the tree, and where the other end is should be where your tree top ends up.  Another method is to stand in the path of where you want the tree to fall and hold up an axe at arm’s length.  Walk backwards or forwards until the axe covers the tree, and then where you are standing is where the tree should fall.

I couldn’t get a clean pencil shot, so I used the axe method.  Except my axe was all the way up at the shed, so I used an imaginary axe instead.   I sized up one of the sun-blockers, held up my “axe”, established the drop point, and declared myself satisfied.  Then I chopped the bastard down and nearly took out the house.  Verandah full of leaves.  Slightly bent gutter.  Broke the bird on the ‘hope’ sculpture.  Made Isaac cry.  Job well done!

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There’s no hope

In fairness, or at least defence, I have used an axe a lot more than a chainsaw and have a pretty good imagination!  4 foot out on a 60-odd foot tree – what’s that, about 3mm of an axe handle?! – not a bad estimate really.  But we’ve agreed to let a bulldozer take care of the other trees in the house vicinity all the same.  The one I took wasn’t the biggest and, much as it might make for a more interesting blog entry, we’ve not been here long enough to flatten the joint just yet.  Besides, there’s plenty more trees out there that need removing, I won’t be suffering adrenaline withdrawals just yet.

living in the rainy forest

So it’s supposed to be our dry season here but we’ve just come out of a few solid days of rain. I’m talking over 200ml in 3 days.

When you don’t have much roof space things get a little damp in weather like that and if you have very little lawn and very clayey soils things get a little muddy. If you live on solar (so no washing machine on cloudy days and absolutely no dryer, ever,) things stay damp and muddy.

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Multiply this by 3 kids under 9 (we’ve had J’s brother visiting) in a very small house and you’ll know why i was soooo happy to see the sun (briefly) this afternoon.

But it was nice to see the creek pumping in full force and to get a good idea of how surface water behaves on our block.

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It was also awesome to have J’s bro (and family) here. They brought many cuttings, much enthusiasm and about 2000 worms! The worms are currently living in an old polystyrene box until we get our hands on one of these retro kits and convert an old olive tub into a worm habitat.

You can see the worms in the white box in this photo as well as some of the olive tubs which we converted into compost tumblers (using only hand tools). The plantings in the front are comfrey and arrowroot. Oh, and check out the wattle and daub (minus the daub) fence J built for free with some privet (a weed) we took out.

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