cutting firewood, firewood, kindling, logs, making mulch, managing trees, mulch, mulcher, trees
Woods management, forestry, agroforestry, general tree cleanup. Whatever you wish to call it, it’s been a process we’ve been engaged in since we first settled on our block here at Twinny Acres.
When we first purchased the block there were (still are) a driveway entrance lined with various eucalyptus trees, a wind break along the southern border, similar along the western edge and about 6-10 trees in an open line along the south-eastern edge of the property. Oh, and a single older growth tree somewhere up the middle front of the block. Just outside our property borders there are further larger eucalyptus trees in a line along the southern edge and blackwood (acacia melanoxylon) and wattle trees along the front roadside.
All of these trees need some form of management in my opinion.
The trees along the southern edge had many low hanging branches that would block or hinder access for a vehicle higher than our car. The trees lining the roadside almost all have branches hanging over our fence and the trees along the north are all dead, dying or riddled with grubs. wattle and blackwood trees don’t have the longest lifespan anyway and I’m guessing they’re all nearing their 15 year limits.
When we first had access to the block, our friend S and I marked up the branches that were needing removal with a can of fluorescent spray paint. We want to make sure that should we ever need a fire truck, it could access our house without getting caught in low hanging branches. We also wanted to make sure our bus was able to get through too. Any branches that were around 2.2m (around 7 ft) or within arms reach were marked then removed. It’s opened things up beautifully and looks much better too.
We also marked the overhanging branches of the trees along the southern edge. This is more in the line of prudence in keeping property boundaries in tact. We have already had a few branches come down in the wild weather in early August, once of which landed on a fence, so we want to minimise this happening again in the future. We also marked for removal the tree that is growing in the very centre of the driveway. I think the tree came first, rather than someone planting into a driveway, but it needs to go or we are looking at needing to move then entire entrance to our block. The trees that are removed will be replaced many times over.
S, who is most adept with a chainsaw, started removing the marked limbs along the driveway. Long branches were sawed into 20-25cm (7-10 inches) logs to either be split further or stacked up to dry. We were then left with several piles of branches which we piled up in several places.
The weather has been getting warm with a warm day or two followed by several cooler ones. This, along with the fact that it’s Copperhead (Austrelaps) breeding season, has made me very edgy. Our children also love hiding in amongst the branches in their “bivouac’s” which makes me very nervous, so on Saturday I sent Martin off to Ballarat to pick up a Greenfield mulcher we’d purchased second-hand from Gumtree.
Armed with mulcher and petrol, Martin, our children, S and I headed to the farm, whereupon I dropped off my family and the tools and headed off to a friends permaculture property about 35 minutes drive away. Sadly, we all forgot the petrol was in the back of the car.
Martin and S mulched and cleaned up until the fuel ran out. Sorry guys.
My friend whom I was visiting has a poor back. She also has a large property which she manages wonderfully. However, digging and pulling out the hundred or so wattle seedlings that have self seeded in one of her hen runs was not a job she was able to do. I however, am looking for trees and shrubs to plant out to fill out the gaps and extend our wind breaks and I am also able to dig and pull out “weeds” easily.We had a perfect trade opportunity. Free trees for me and free labour to remove them for her. Armed with a nice new strong garden fork, we had a lovely afternoon clearing out the wattles and watching her 2 dogs bounce around chasing imaginary rats. We cleared about 3/4 of the pen, me clearing about 1/2 of the small seedlings and she, most of the larger trees that needed sawing down. We chatted, planned and worked hard. I cam home with a goodly collection of wattle seedlings and saplings, all of which were back in the soil on Monday. the gaps along the southern wind break will soon be no more, if the seedlings take.
On Monday, after planting out the wattles, S, the children and I got stuck into mulching. It’s surprisingly slow work and the very large piles of branches leave disappointingly small piles of mulch. We put through all the leafy ends, stacking anything that needed to go in the larger branch chute of the mulcher, into our custom-built branch holder which when filled, S chainsawed. We filled our trailer completely with branches, all between 20-25cm (7-10 inches) long and between 1.5cm-15cm (3/4-6 inches) thick, now awaiting unloading. This wood will be stacked up, smalls and mediums, with the larger branches added to another pile that awaits splitting. We plan to heat our (very thermally efficient) house with a wood stove upon which we will cook in cooler months, however the fire-box in our IXL is not very large. The thinner branches will catch and burn faster, thereby the stove and oven will heat up more efficiently. A little more work now but faster drying and better usage later on. It’s well worth the effort.
Nothing from the felled trees will leave the property. Trees too rotted for firewood will be used as hugelkultur bases, trees full of insects are chicken feast waiting to happen and all twigs and leaves will either be used to boil a kettle, barbecue some sausages or go through the mulcher. Larger branches are firewood and if we need to remove an entire tree, even the roots will be used for firewood. If all else fails, the gnarliest roots may be set aside for creating biochar.
We have still the entire western edge of the property to clean up but we will wait until Stewie has finished eating the grass down and been moved first. There’s also the wattles and blackwoods, most of which will need to come out as they are at the end of their lives and filled with rot or borers. We will replace them with other trees. They can wait for now though, although a few are destined to come out soon to allow for a driveway and gate.
In the meantime we have plenty more mulching to do and the wood to stack. However, it’s drizzling, cold, the gas bottle for the stove is empty and my hands are aching and weak after all the shaking of the branches I mulched yesterday, so it’s a rest day at home for us all.