Saturday 14 April 2007

Tree Felling

At the back of the house there was a huge out of control leylandii conifer which cast a tremendous shadow across the back of the garden...we decided it had to go.

Felling a treeUp a tree

The pictures can't really give a true impression of the size of the tree (but you can see another one here on Paul's stream) or of its closeness to the buildings. There was only about a 25 degree sector where it could be felled without taking the back garden fence, the straining wires for the kitchen chimney stack, the new woodshed, the bakehouse or the main house with it. When Paul went up to clear the lower branches so that we could get a rope around the trunk to help control the direction of fall he discovered the main trunk split in two about half way up and the whole tree leaned backwards from the way we wanted it to fall and towards the house.

We began to worry a bit as there were only the two of us there and I don't do chainsaws. Paul would have to do the cutting and I would have to the pulling, his task requiring finesse and mine brute strength. Ah. Only one of us is multiskilled in that way!

Some head scratching later and a plan was formed to take one fork of the trunk first to reduce the weight of the whole to a manageable proportion. We cleaned the bole of ivy and attached a rope to the part furthest away from the house.

It worked like a dream, Paul made the cuts and with a gentle tug the quite considerable trunk fell exactly where we had intended. So far, so good.

However, with that bit out of the way the tilt backwards was even more apparent and we began to wonder if removing the first side had made our task even more difficult by unbalancing the load unfavourably. Fifteen metres of solid conifer crashing through the roof of the house would have ruined our holiday rather so a great deal depended on getting the angle of cut correct and the tension on the rope firm enough to offset the weight of the trunk at the critical moment when the final cut was made.

Paul cleaned off a lot of branches to reduce the burden and then, with me hanging grimly on to the rope, we started the felling. We were so concerned that the thing would just snap before the third cut was made I had to keep tension up during the whole procedure but the rope was slippy and kept tightening around my hands uncomfortably.

At the tree end Paul was anxiously eyeing his angles for the wedge cut and trimming out small sections to ensure that nothing went wrong. Then he went for the last attack. A straight cut through from the back of the trunk to the top of his wedge cut.

I hung on for dear life and just as he reached the end of the stroke I thought we'd lost it. The whole tree rocked backwards, dangerously swaying in the direction of the house. Holding on as hard as I could it was only possible to steady it in a upright position. Paul dropped the saw and came running, at some risk to his life as he passed beneath the expected dropping place of the tree and grabbed the rope. A mighty pull and everything was alright again. The tree fell, neatly on top of the previous cut and disaster averted.


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