I have really been enjoying the labor savings a chainsaw provides when clearing our property. There is kind of an art to it as well. I have read a few books/manuals on felling a tree as well as bucking it once it has fallen. There are a few forces that aren’t covered in any of the manuals that I’ve come across here that adds an element of danger. Vines.
The vines bind the trees at the top creating a hinge point that doesn’t allow the trees to fall as they normally would. I’ve had trees that literally hang in mid air once the trunk has been chopped. The only way to get them down is to either wait for the wind to work them down, or to take the surrounding trees down with it as a group. It requires a little more thinking and planning.
Algarrobos Tree (BK standing at the base)
Of course all the fun is over when the tree is on the ground, then the bucking and chopping starts to get it into manageable sizes. The tree being cut down here is an Algarrobos and is about 60 foot tall. These particular trees can grow up to 150 feet with a 6 foot diameter base. I think the trunk on this one was maybe 12 inches in diameter. We kept calling them “eyeglass case” trees because the fruit look like leather cases you would keep your eyeglasses in. The fruits are inedible, but the wood is more useful than most of the other weedy trees.
With the chainsaw as I said, you can make a hinge that will guide the tree where to fall. This particular cut is going a little against how the tree would naturally fall, which is why we had to wait for the wind to take it. The hinge technique worked perfectly and it fell exactly where I wanted it to. It’s fun to learn and use new tools.
Once it is down the processing begins! The trunk is straight and I think we can make use of it. It is kind of sad to cut down a tree that has been growing for a long while. We are connected to it in a way that I’ve never really thought of before. I mean I’ve bought wood furniture, firewood, wood to make fences and build houses but I’ve never actually been a part of the process of killing it and chopping it up. It makes you appreciate it more, just as growing fruit trees, vegetable seeds and animals make us appreciate our food much more. We feel so much more connected to everything here.