Our home is surrounded by forest and as those who have followed the blog will know, our priority was to remove all the dangerous ones, which could be in danger of falling on the roof when there's a big typhoon. There was actually one tree that did fall, but thankfully it's crown only just scraped past the roof so there was no damage at all.
I'm glad we did manage to take down most of the dangerous ones before anything happened.
The people who'd cleared our trees previously - although fast & very professional at their work, had left a lot of work to be completed in clearing the brush, etc. So on this occasion I contacted Edera San, a friend of a local friend for an estimate. Her team would have to do the work a lot more carefully this time, to avoid felling trees anywhere near the house, which included climbing each tree and taking the canopy off before felling the main trunk.
This time we were cutting down mostly Japanese Cedar (Sugi) & Hinoki Cypress, which I'm finding tends to get sick and decay from the inside out, seemingly remaining healthy looking with the only clue to it's demise being climbing vines which apparently know of it's ill health. It's amazing how nature can warn us of what's happening. We just need to be observant & willing to learn.
Apologies in advance that the pictures are each on their sides.
I did rotate & save each so it was in an upright position before uploading, but being a free blog website it's not that good and rotates them sideways again. Grrr! :_)
The gentleman cutting the tops of trees down is a seasoned mountain climber, so to shin up tall trees was no hardship for him, but it was none the less awesome to watch him work.
I have to admit I was glad I'd hired this team to do such work. I really wouldn't have fancied doing it myself.
Once the top foliage & branches of each tree had been cut down, it was time to cut the base and drop the trunk, which tended to fall into the valley below.
One tree got caught on a stout old Oak. Some further surgery & engineering was required, but it came down to safety in the end. Around 7 similar trees were removed from this area during a 2-3 day stint.
Our next job was to remove a wood drying shack that had been erected some 40 years before, to allow access to 4 very tall Japanese cedars behind it, 3 of which were quite old & sick. Jun spent about a day dismantling it and finally we were rid of the 2 shacks which had come with the property. This is also the location where I intend to build a 6 car sized workshop, so all the reason to remove any possibly dangerous trees. Not least they loomed over the gatehouse!
If they ever fell on top of that it would have been catastrophic!
Shortly after the shack was taken down, we had some very heavy snows for a week or so.
Tokyo was the worst hit and had something like 60cm!
But it all soon melted. This picture was taken when I drove a friend home in the early hours of the morning, crossing Rainbow bridge when there was nobody else able to make it through...
I was driving our (4WD with locking front hubs) camper van, equipped with good snow tyres. This was one time I was glad to have plenty of ground clearance too.
Once the snows had mostly melted, on 22nd of February the crew came back to cut down another 6 or so trees!
Hammering a wedge into the cut, so it won't shut & trap the chainsaw.
This tree was around 115 years old.
And another tree coming down.
This was probably the most beautiful Sugi we had on the property, but as we plan to build when we can, now seemed an opportune time to bring it down.
It went deep into the ravine below. About 25m total length!
In all, this past winter around 12 trees of 20-25 metres in height were taken down along the ridge just before there is a steep incline to a flat area below.
This has opened up the path for winds to come from the valley below and we immediately noticed a much cooler and more comfortable atmosphere (Especially over the recent summer weather).
In the spring together with the children we planted lots of replacement trees, as this is a prime area for sunlight. These included Tangerine, Orange, Peach, Cherry, Lemon and Blueberry, in addition to Apple, Japanese pear, Fig, Chestnut and Weeping Cherry Blossoms in other parts of the garden where trees were previously felled last year. We'll see how these saplings survive, but we have fed them with chicken manure and protected each with plenty of mulch, so hopefully they'll grow up well & healthy. We continue to patiently dream of having a range of fruits to juice, eat and preserve to enjoy fresh from the garden throughout the year.
The new tree's roots will help avoid possible land slides and I presume that's why these trees were grown there in the first place. We will continue to plant as time goes on, but I figure it'll be some years before the roots of the trees we cut down rot into deep compost.
I then asked Yo Chan, who is a well known builder who favours natural materials to come by and take the tree trunks he wanted, for free. The most beautiful tree that had fallen deep into the ravine was the one he really wanted. He said this was the most beautiful & perfect Sugi he'd ever had the chance to have.
We used his Unic crane truck as power to pull 5 metre long sections of trunk up from the ravine. These were very heavy & too much for his crane to pull, so we had to engineer ways to bring each section out, using cables and pullies to get better purchase.
Here, Yo Chan climbs an Oak to attach a strap & pulley.
As always it was amazing to watch & spend the day assisting a professional at work. Part of his work has been to make some fantastic tree houses, so he's experienced in how to engineer success with these difficult projects.
Rescuing a piece of 5m length trunk of 100 year old Sugi.
As we loaded the truck the back wheels continued to sink deeper & deeper into the ground!
It didn't drive out of there easily, but with a combination of using the crane to pull, combined with my 3.5 ton Chihoru winch and large chunks of wood under the wheels, eventually we managed to pull it out - and made sure it didn't stop till it got onto harder ground. I expect it probably weighed around 8 tonnes with that load.
We still have logs in the valley and on the slope below which need to be cut. That's a project to do perhaps over next winter... Maybe in combination with building an intended duck pond... One project at a time. No rush, just a little progress as & when it can be made!