Friday, 22 October 2010

I'll Give You Cuts, George Osborne

I spent late afternoon yesterday sawing up logs from a dead elm in the garden. It's not strictly true to say that the elm itself is dead, because the roots produce suckers which then grow into more trees. But the upper part of the tree will only reach a certain height before it succumbs to Dutch elm disease, withers and dies. Elm wood is very good for burning.

Using a handsaw and making sure not to force the wood (I gave myself very sore wrists at first), I cut about twenty logs for the woodpile from a medium-sized branch. I do this two or three times a week now. There's quite a bit of dead elm in our neighbourhood.

Before transition I’d never chopped wood myself, let alone fell a tree. Our firewood came from a local woodsman who works with the forest wildlife in mind - all the badgers and the butterflies - and we put the central heating on. Then a few years ago a decorator friend told us about foraging for wood and made it sound really exciting. I am of course not the only one on the blog with a woodpile, although I think I may be the only one who cuts the logs by hand.

Our landlord offered last week to come round with his chainsaw and we could fell the whole tree together.
“Do you use protective clothing?” I asked him.
“Oh no. T-shirt and flip-flops,” he said.
"Sounds great to me," I laughed, "Let's do it soon."

And next month I'll be spending a day with tree-surgeon Paul from (Sustainable) Bungay learning how and where to cut the trunks and branches so they fall in the right direction. You could call it Tree-Skilling.

Have to go now. I'm posting this from the Buttercross Tearooms in Bungay where I'm just about to lead a Transition (Eastern region) workshop with Josiah and Charlotte as part of the Waveney Rural Summit in the Fisher Theatre. More on that tomorrow...


  1. > although I think I may be the only one who cuts the logs by hand

    I do. Except that some people came by (presumably from the council) and cut down quite a bit of wood with chain saws in "my" wood. I didn't ask them to. They left the wood, though :-)

  2. I spent a great weekend a few years ago in Sherwood with the British Trust for Conservation Volunteerss, learning how to fell sycamore trees with hand saws and axes. It was great fun, and so good to learn such a practical skill. We were all exhausted at the end of the weekend; it's certainly hard work!