I’ve always said that wood is best stored vertically. But during the winter you don’t get a lot of choice and trees do fall down. Not all of them even fall down – as the crown of this oak tree demonstrated by splitting up the trunk and toppling over to plant itself upside down. There’s quite a weight in those boughs and it will be a delicate job to saw it up safely.
With the relentless wind and rain that we’ve been having for the last couple of months the number of trees down across the commons is mounting – and probably numbers well over a hundred trees by now. Plenty to keep me and our dedicated band of volunteers busy right through to the spring then.
So here is a little tour of a part of the commons and a look at some of the trees that have come down in the last few weeks.
When the gales come through the wind gusts to very high speeds and tests the trees. Any weakness in the tree and it snaps instantly. The brown wood in this Birch shows that it was starting to rot and the wind caught it. These splits are known as ‘barber’s chairs’ or ‘widow’s seats’ because they can be very dangerous if they happen as you are felling the tree with a saw, as the tree splits it can lever upwards and cause a fatal accident if you are still working by the tree. Still I suppose it saves having to fell it!
Not all of the trees manage to come down. Some of them lift their root plates and lean over to end up caught in other trees – technically known as a windblown hungup. It can take a lot of time to clear a tree caught like this – the weight of the crown hanging in the trees and the weight of the root plate on the butt are both dangerous. It’ll need a winch and/or a tractor but the ground is too wet for the heavy equipment right now – in the meantime it’s not going anywhere in a hurry as it’s firmly held at both ends!
More common are the mature Birch trees that have just come to the end of their lives and had enough. This one is probably around 65 years to 70 years old. A fairly simple job to clear and plenty of firewood for the next season to boot – it’s blocking a couple of paths and is down on the stock fence so it will get priority.
Another mature Birch tree – this one managed to fall right across the Hazel Coppice we’ve recently planted, but very considerately managed to avoid crushing all of the young hazel’s apart from one. We cleared some Birch to make room for the Coppice and that probably left other trees more vulnerable which is why this one fell. Extracting it from around all the Hazel plants will be just that bit more of a pain – dealing with trees pushed over by the wind is often more complicated than felling the trees yourself.
Holly grows to be a large mature tree. This one fell right across the timber extraction track on the edge of the commons and I had to clear some of it just to get through with a load of firewood.But there’s only so much clearing of Holly that you can do at one go – so the rest will have to wait.
As the Holly came down it managed to fell an old Hawthorn tree – now it’s getting a bit like a game of nine pin skittles as the wind knocks one tree into the next.
We have had a few trees down across the roads as well – but clearing those is much more stressful – mainly because of the behaviour of other drivers. Nobody seems to have any patience any longer – it’s not unusual to be sworn at by drivers impatient for me to clear a tree – and ironically it’s not even my job to clear the road. So no time to take photos when working on the road.
Odd thing spotted in the sky recently. A bit like the moon but brighter – don’t see it very often these days, I’d be lying if I said we don’t see the sun at all but at this time of year it’s always very low in the sky and doesn’t hang around for long.
The rain is hammering down as I write this and no doubt we’ll have more trees down tomorrow, at least I shan’t be short of jobs to do for the foreseeable future.