Friday, 31 August 2012

Partridge and Pears

I've never had much to do with 10 lords a leaping or 12 drummers drumming, but when it comes to Partridge, I've dealt with plenty. When I helped to run my parents game farm in the sleepy hamlet of Cardinia, we used to breed thousands of the little blighters each year. Chukar Partridge to be exact.

They're quite endearing little birds actually and have plenty of character. Not to mention a tasty wing or two! Our birds were all grown free range and always had a tree to roost in. Mostly thorny Hawthorn though, as there were row after row of Hawthorn hedges throughout the region. But there was not a Pear tree in sight. But despite this I'm confident they didn't ever want for one....

Like most wood workers, as my interest and ability grew, so did my desire to use more exotic and specialist timbers. Amongst the Elm, Ash, Walnut and Tasmanian Pines, fruitwood was always high on the list. Last year I had the opportunity to harvest some very old Elm trees from the historic St. James property in Bannockburn. They had died as a result of rising salt levels in the Moorabool River, along which they had been planted or self seeded well over a hundred years earlier. Sadly, a row of Pear trees succumbed to the same fate.

The owner reliably informed me the Pears were planted some 160 years ago. Mmmmm Pear. This specimen was a standout in the row. In fact I'm sure I've never seen a Pear tree as large before. The bar on the chainsaw is 3 foot, for comparison.  A quick trim of the lower branches to minimise potential damage, splitting and shake in the trunk.

Then a neat scarf as low as I possibly could, to make sure I didn't leave any of this monster behind and to make sure it didn't end up in the drink! Not much fun chain sawing in a river. As you can see it came down cleanly and without issue.

On Wednesday I finally had the opportunity to mill it. Tim McLeod came down at the same time to see the mill in action. It makes for a good day when you have the company of someone who shares as much of a passion for all things timber related as you do. Tim's that guy.

All I can say is wow. The first Pear I've milled and most likely the best I will ever mill too. So good I couldn't bring myself to square the entire log, so one side is still waney. What you can see on the trailer, aside from the small pile of Pin Oak centre left in the photo, is all Pear. The pile front and centre was the butt log from a second tree, full of burl.

These 30mm boards, over 450mm wide and well over 3.2m long are from the tree in the video. They are truly something else. The blotchiness is from the rain, it bucketed down here on Thursday!

Partridge may be in the past now, but I'm looking forward to using this Pear in the not too distant future.


  1. I frequently fantasise about a big pear.

    I bet you're looking forward to when it's seasoned and you pair can pare the pear.


  2. Don't we all Jack.... I'm still nursing a sore arm after telling my wife I was busy handling the best pear I've ever seen.

  3. I came across this page looking for an image of a Partridge so i could draw it. But this conversation takes the Pair. the Pear of you can now take a bow. hahahahah