Hazel, willow, beef and storytelling from Bedfordshire

Time for a fire

Cut and split ash

Cut and split ash

I seem to remember that it’s a combination of reducing temperature and day-length that prompts deciduous trees to begin the process of leaf shedding. I am once again impressed with the precision of timing involved; after all trees don’t just dump their leaves – that would be too easy. Rather, it’s an active process. Lots of useful material contained in each leaf is broken down and withdrawn for use later, presumably next spring. And that requires each plant to start the process ahead of time – before temperatures drop too low for the chemistry to be practical. A falling leaf is merely an empty shell; the unrecyclable skeleton of a once powerful machine. It’s this process that produces the wonderful autumnal colours that we are about to enjoy.

Autumn creeps up quickly and jumps on your back like a friend on the walk to school. You know he’s coming but he still manages to surprise you.

Wearing a sweater and coat for the first time in weeks prompted me to think about the need for a firewood supply. I’ve been watching pto driven firewood saws on a well-known auction site for a while and hoped that I would have the pleasure, this autumn, of cutting logs at high-speed and great comfort. However, the apparent demise of our tractor means that cash may need to be diverted to a replacement and leave me logging once again with a chainsaw.

So yesterday afternoon I spent a couple of hours cutting some very lovely ash which had lain stacked in a coppiced hedge for three years. I feel the effort now in my back, particularly of splitting with a maul. My imagined circular saw wouldn’t have saved me from that and actually I enjoy the exercise – so much better to be doing something useful when exercising.

We burn plenty of wood each winter so I’ll need several more sessions like yesterday’s before I have a stock that will take us through to April. Hope my back’s up to it. I still dream of a tractor driven saw though.

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