|Before the devastation
The previous owner of our property planted 138 eucalyptus trees spanning two sides of the boundary. The species is not a New Zealand native but hails from across the ditch in Australia. The original idea was that the trees would provide a renewable firewood resource. The only heat available for the single-story home is a wood burner fire and the idea was for the trees to be periodically sacrificed and laid out to dry for a couple of years before being consumed by the fire god, Moloch. It seemed like a good plan especially as the trees are full of resin thus making excellent firewood. The problem, however, is that Australian eucalyptus grows insanely fast and our trees have taken on epic proportions and continue to grow at three metres a year. As the tree is relatively shallow rooting it is prone to toppling in high winds. It has been a particularly prescient decision as New Zealand has just been hit by a series of storms. Possibly due to our inland position, our part of heaven has been spared the worst of the weather. And so I engaged a local arborist to chop down about 90 trees along one of our boundaries. As you can imagine the ‘west’ field has been transformed into a mired mess with foliage, branches and felled trees scattered akimbo. Also, the heavy machinery has churned up most of the pasture but, given time, and nature’s tender caress, the field will rise once more, thrusting forth green shoots anew. However, the boundary will need to be reconstructed and I’ll be looking to plant a number of native trees and large shrubs where the eucalyptus once thrived and was succoured by nature’s benign, Sylvian stewardship (stop being a ponce, Flaxen).
It will take a while, perhaps the whole of summer and much of the autumn to process the timber and to burn the mountainous mound of foliage. I’m looking forward to the burning part of the proceedings. As my regulars are aware, I’m very fond of burning stuff. Flames are cathartic and cleansing and I intend to dance around the conflagration tastefully attired in a wolf skin. No doubt the whole ceremony will be accompanied by a liberal libation of honey mead: should give the neighbours something to talk about.
I’ll need some assistance and my son has promised to help, especially with the heavy lifting. The plan is to use a chainsaw to cut the timber into pieces amenable to further processing with a splitting axe. Hopefully, the field will eventually, after much diligent labour, be bestrewn with multiple ‘pyramids’ of wood adrying. I suspect it will take about two years before we can use the wood in the burner. Of course, there’s way too much wood for us and I’m hoping to sell most of the wood to the locals. This will provide a great revenue stream and I’m sure it will more than pay for the arborist's fee and the expense of buying a grunty chainsaw. Certainly, eucalyptus is a much sort after timber for home heating. As a premium wood, it commands a higher price than ubiquitous pine.
Sometime in the future, I will have to tackle the 40 or so trees on the adjacent boundary. This task will be a little troublesome due to the presence of my large shed. The boundary fence will have to be dismantled and the trees will have to be felled so that they fall in my neighbour’s field- perhaps next year. Also, it means I will have to consult, nay liaise, with another human being. One of the reasons I moved to a large plot in the country was to escape from any idle chatter/prattle with the great unwashed. The other advantage: previously when shooting my longbow on public land, the proles had the annoying and disconcerting habit of wandering in front of the action. The irony, of course, is that now, although I have plenty of land to hide the bodies, there is no one to ‘accidently’ feather with a yard shaft. Such is the ultimate tragedy of rural life.
|There goes the neighbourhood