A great day at the office? Yep, I guess that sums it up in a nutshell.
Over the past few weeks, as any one on the East Coast of Australia would know, we have experienced immense rains and 'hundred year floods.' The effect has been devastating and not escaping the carnage have been our trees. Over the worst of the rains here in Kyneton we apparently had nearly 200mm, which is an immense amount of rain in anyones language.
So how has the rain damaged the trees here? Well, after more than ten years of drought the root structure of trees have been pretty severely compromised, especially the deciduous species . Then we have immense rains which these trees take every advantage of, drawing up vast amounts of water ( and weight ) through what's left of their roots, into trunks and finally into the canopies of these large and very old trees. The top heavy trees are then dangerously precarious, with little holding them. Add to the mix the howling winds that we experienced here at the same time and we have what occurred on the banks of the Campaspe River, below our magnificent Botanical Gardens.
Three Elm trees fallen amongst the other spectacular exotic species that surround them. Giant Sequoia, European Oaks, Douglas Fir and Blue Spruce to name but a few. Those familiar with our parks and gardens, both Melbourne and rural would have heard of Sir Ferdinand Jakob Heinrich Von Mueller, or Baron Von Mueller as he was commonly known, (read about him here if you haven't - http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/mueller-sir-ferdinand-jakob-heinrich-von-4266 )
the brilliant Government Botanist. As well as being responsible for supplying Melbourne's Botanical Gardens with exotic species from around the globe, he did the same for these gardens in Kyneton, supplying plants and seeds from around the 1870's.
Now I haven't had a chance to count the growth rings on the largest of the Elm's properly yet, but I did count to 80 before I gave up and there was a way to go yet before I reached the bark! While I can't say when it was planted yet and by whom, I'll get the ball rolling by trying to get as much info as I can from the Kyneton Friends of the Botanical Gardens group. It would be great to have some further provenance of the planting of these trees. Here is the largest of them, being lifted onto the back of the the crane truck. It was the cleanest Elm log I have collected in years, ( If not ever ) perfectly centred heart and not a trace of any rot or other defect.
Here's my 660 Magnum next to it. Yep, that's a 3 foot bar on the saw. Standing next to it the log came up about 50mm ( 2" ) above my hip. From the 3 fallen Elms I salvaged 20 logs. They were remarkably tall and straight trees. This morning ( Kyneton Market day ) when I placed the logs onto my block in the main street, passers by stopped in droves to see these amazing logs find a temporary home before being milled. Our friend Mara at the cafe across the road ( Inner Biscuit - Best coffee in town! ) spent her morning explaining that they were to be used to make Windsor Chairs, which resonated very well with her customers.
Amongst the onlookers I spoke with a well known fella who's been in the town for a long time and has probably forgotten more about all things tree related than I'll ever know! A short conversation later and I'd met his mate of 40 years and was driving down the road to view the farm where I've been offered a virtually permanent place to mill as many logs as I need.
A good day at the office? Absolutely. In fact pretty much any day here now is great. Kyneton Elm for Kyneton Windsor chairs. Beautiful. I'll be trying to post some more updates on the cottage over the next few days, it's been taking up every hour I have at the moment, but the transformation over the past week has been immense and worth all the effort. I hope you'll agree.