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The New Forest…


…is of course an extremely old forest as we all know. I had forgotten it was William the Conk who personally planted the whole thing in 1079 for hunting – I needed the knowledgeable Mr Google to remind me, he really knows everything.


There is no surprise then, that there are some very old trees there. The huge but unsafe Oak that Rob was called to in July probably wasn’t a bit of King W’s handiwork but was still several hundred years old and at 5 metres round the base one of the biggest Rob has felled.


Trying to get a picture that demonstrated quite what a big bugger it was, proved too much for my photographic skills so I've fast forwarded to the end to show you the stump, as the one legged man used to say as he took his trousers off.


Where's the tree gone, the crowd wonder.

Was I a bit cheap?...


… Rob asked worriedly when his quote was immediately accepted by the client. No, you’re just the only one stupid enough to have a go at it was the answer.


The reason it had to come down was that it had a massive crack down the middle and it was only a matter of time before it fell in half.


I have always avoided massive…


… cracks in trees and of course women. Tree wise they are extremely unstable and you never know which way they will go, ok this can also said of the fairer sex.


Given the choice unpredictable ladies are a bit less dangerous than trees. With the latter they can have the front cuts in the exact correct spot and your back cut perfect but if the tree has a shake they can twist and fall anywhere. This is only amusing when it falls on someone else’s house/truck and you aren’t liable.


With the huge...


... amount of timber coming I suggested to Rob that a woodmizer on site would be a good idea. He agreed and thought about getting a cheap local one but decided to go for the best - my ol' buddy Richard from Stafford Sawing Services, a star of the summer 2005 newsletter and back again the year after.


The snag was that he has drifted even further oop north and was 270 miles away but he drove through the night and was on site at 6am ready to roll. Unfortunately the clutch went on Rob's ever expensive Landy so he wasn't !


Minor disasters are all in a days work and Oak was soon on it's way up the garden to the waiting sawyer.


By the time I rolled up, Richard above had started to produce a decent pile of timber.

To get the best out of...


... the woodmizer you have to keep feeding it. It will fly through the wood once it is on the machine but you have to get it on and lift it off. When Richard came to my woods we manually lifted what he cut off and then stacked it and consequently as the day wore on, we wore out and less got milled.


The answer is a loader, preferably with a skilled driver. Rob is second to none on his Bob Cat type skid steer which will lift a ton and is regularly asked to do more by it's abusive driver.


All morning whilst Jarno, one the best climbers in the business did his stuff dismantling the monster 50 feet off the ground , Rob took the limbs from the bottom of the garden and loaded and unloaded Richard - it was all going very well... hmmmmmmm. Too well.

Richard first noticed hydraulic fluid ...


... squirting out on to the forks of the skid steer. Rather annoyingly, swearing and trying to stop the flow with his finger didn't cure it and it looked like Rob was in the same position as the chap who inadvertently dropped the soap in the shower in prison - about to be you know what.


But rather impressively before you could say where's the yellow pages a call out service was located and Andy a cheerful competent engineer was there and had mended it. In actual fact you could have said where's the yellow pages several hundred times as it was nearly an hour but considering we were in the middle of The New Forest it wasn't half bad and he only charged fifty quid.


Paul the amiable agricultural dealer who comes and mends my tractor in the woods usually takes about a week to get to me, mind you he always brings cakes and that is more important to me than a fast response!


Andy mends the skid steer whilst Rob puts in a precautionary call to the Samaritans.

Meanwhile the sun shone brightly...


... we really should be grateful shouldn't we as it hasn't happened much this summer. This particular job would have been a nightmare if it had been wet but it really was becoming sodding hot.


It wasn't too bad for me as I was just fiddling about occasionally passing up a refuelled chainsaw to Jarno. Working on ropes with your biggest chainsaw that I can hardly lift on the ground let alone up in the air was gruelling even for a tough geezer like Jarno, but he worked on as the hours passed.


You need balls of steel to do this, makes me feel dizzy just standing on the ground looking up.

Did you hear about the bloke...


... who found his willy had turned orange and took it to show the doctor. The quack was puzzled and wondered if it was stress related.


Do you have a stressful job he asked ? No was the answer, I used to have a crap one but now earn loads and really enjoy it.


Well it's not that, what about a stressful relationship. Nope I had a horrible old mare but she left a year ago.


Well in that case you must have a stressful social life. No, he replies I don't really have a social life I just sit around , watch porn and eat Wotsits.

Anyway back to the Oak tree...


... as the tree got closer to the final felling the lumps of wood were becoming so big that the loader, new pipes or not just couldn't lift. A five foot bit was over a ton and on the lifting limit of the Bobcat and there were plenty of bigger bits to come.


The old monster was leaning in the wrong direction away from the house and towards a boundary fence so it was going to take all of Rob and Jarno's skill, concentration, the winch and Rob's Landy to pull it in the right direction.


It was touch and go for a while but finally with an enormous thump - I really felt the earth move, it was down.




It seemed like a good time...


... to slip away for a Kebab in Lyndhurst with an old mate! There was an enormous amount still to be done for Rob and his team - rather them than me, my back was aching watching.


Whilst I was hiding away they were considering how best to cut up and mill the beast that was the base of the tree.


See Part II if you can stand the excitement........ coming soon.




Paul Goulden.