Monday, 30 July 2012

Christmas in July

Well that's the first thing that came to mind today. I had a trip down to the Yarra Valley to meet up with a fellow I met recently while demonstrating at Mont de Lancey. I'd agreed to come across and have a look at a largish amount of Chestnut trees that had become available. Russell and I headed across to two nearby farms and it was worth the trip. About a dozen Chestnut logs of a good size.
 ( apologies for the following pictures, they were all taken on my phone - left the camera at home. )

Back at Russell's farm he asked if I was interested in a Holly tree. It seems it had been growing up along side the old barn ( and I mean old, all the weather boards are split/riven - not sawn! ) and causing it some trouble. I was expecting a wispy and gangly tree. When I cast my eyes upon the trunk of the tree........Christmas in July.

The main trunk was over 450mm ( 17.5" ) at the base and over 2m dead straight without a branch or inclusion. Another 3 good smaller logs came from above where the trunk bifurcated. A trip further down the same paddock and two Chestnut trees that were on their way out, came down and straight into the back of the ute.

If that wasn't enough I was also treated to a guided tour of Russell's beautiful old property, which has been in his family since the late 1800's. The wonderful part is that a great amount of the tools, buildings, fixtures and fittings, remain on the farm, most of them in their original place! It was like walking into a time capsule. Too much to list in one post, but when time permits I'll post a few more of the interesting aspects.

But here is something that really jumped out at me. Anyone who has followed Robin Wood's Blog would have seen the brilliant Australian short film of Bill Boyd and Mark Garner restoring Coolamine Homestead.

Here 'tis -

When Bill ( or anyone else for that matter, doing the same job ) starts to remove the waney edge of a log in readiness for squaring up with the broad axe, he first walks the length of the log, checking it out with a felling axe before splitting off the wood between the checks.

Under one of the biggest English Oaks I've ever seen, just across the yard from the original homestead, sits this old pig sty. Built well over a hundred years ago, this 'drop slab' sty is quite something. As soon as I walked up to take a closer look and check it's construction, this jumped out at me.

The check marks of the felling axe, still as vivid as if they had been left there yesterday. All of the posts have them..... and I forgot to add, I saw Russell's Great Grandfather's Broad Axe too, which more than likely squared these posts, amazing.

The drop slab with the 'post box' slot in the background, was where the slops were fed through the slab to the pigs. There is a little ramp which you can see the end of, which sits in the slot and directed the slop into a hand adzed pig trough. Yes, both of the troughs were still in the sty, in tact.

A great day and a step back in time. Thank you Russell.


  1. What a great experience! Mmmmmmmmm... H o l l y!

  2. It was a long, but great day Jack. Fact is the Chestnut logs were pretty damn fine too. Just overshadowed a fraction by that 'holy holly'