Sunday, June 3, 2012

Felling Huge Monsters!

We had a very creaky & tall Sugi towering high above the gatehouse. It was clearly decaying and the groaning we could hear in the wind was where it had split about half way up it's length. I found myself going outside when fresh winds were blowing in from the Pacific and saying a little prayer.
We also had another huge tree behind the house whose upper limbs were breaking off, showing clear signs of illness.

I'd already brought down a couple of broken trees myself, but quickly learnt that it took more than cutting wedges in areas of the base to make large trunks fall in the desired direction when two large trees I'd cut down had fallen 90 degrees from their intended direction. One of them had clean broken off a large trunk of another harder tree, so I felt a lot of respect towards much larger sick trees!

Sambu is known for it's Sugi trees (From which most Japanese timber framed houses are built & there are professionals around.
Our daughter's nursery is a huge log cabin built by the owner who has loved in the area for all his life, so he was obviously a great person to ask.
Akira San introduced an old friend he'd known for decades to come round and do the work.

It was awe inspiring to watch how people with 30 years experience each - fell a tree and what they do when it falls on another tree (In the instructional book I'd read hey call these situations "widowmakers")!.

At 9am one morning about a week before our baby boy was due a team of 5 men arrived with 2 old trucks, cables, sledge hammer and a large selection of varying sized chainsaws!
The boss had already visited prior to give an estimate and discuss what we'd want done.

They quickly set up an elaborate winch running off the rear axle on the smaller truck, tied pulleys to the bases of strong trees and created some pull to help guide the tree.

This was the tree. You can see the offending break!

Cuts like butter.

Er... unfortunately that looks a bit off course...
The tree had fallen against a taller and even stronger tree and was now firmly in place.
There was no way they could pull it off the other tree!

It was amazing to watch the base of the tree be pulled by the winch to make it lean enough to finally fall.
They cut it up ready to be winched to an area for me to be able to cut at.

Next they moved to the other large tree. This one loomed tall leaning slightly our house...

They cut the wedge first...

Climbed up the tree and attached a thick cable...

Whilst pulling in the direction they wanted it to fall, using pulleys so it wouldn't fall on those operating the hand-winch, the continued to cut & hammer in wedges.

And so it begun to lean...

& lean...


...and more..

Till it finally came crashing down!

Inside the trunk was all eaten away. This is typically a snake's hibernation lair (grass snakes), but I was told not to try pulling out any of the contents yet.

This tree would lie here for about a month before Jun & I cut it up & he chopped so the good parts can be stored to make firewood for our future stove!

Getting back to the first tree, the trunks needed to be stacked. I gave them the best part (The base) of the tree which is quite valuable.

Sharpening the chain...

Cutting into more manageable pieces...

Dragging with the truck winch....

This was the tree I felled. I hadn't really intended to make a bridge onto the neighbour's property!

They soon erased my mistakes!

Stacking on the drive.

It took two of us to cut and carry the logs to make stools around our new fire pit and to where Jun spent 3 days chopping "maki" to store in the back forest. Still need to make some roofs for these!

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