This is the Beast:Its appearance on the scene means I am starting to think about the winter. I run two wood-burning stoves, one of which heats my water, and they are usually in action from October to March. That’s a lot of firewood to get ready, and I always go through more than I think is possible. In last year’s exceptional winter, I was reduced to bringing in sacks of frozen logs on a sledge, and I don’t want to repeat the experience.
The Beast, like all my power tools, is a Stihl. Over the years, I’ve come to realise that Stihl produce extremely reliable stuff, which stands up to most of the abuse I inflict on it. Stihl is also subtle, in that they manufacture two- stroke engines which run on a 33:1 mix, as opposed to the 25:1 mix used by most other makes. Rather than mess around making up two separate cans, it just easier to have all power tools from the same manufacturer. Such an easy way to clean up the market….
Anyway, the Beast was bought to cope (among other things) with this:This huge beech blew down in a Boxing day gale four years ago, and has been keeping me warm ever since. Many of the beeches in this part of the world are reaching the end of their lives – they are mostly 150-180 years old, and every strong wind is apt to bring huge limbs down. I still miss this tree, but it is performing a useful final service. The wood barely needs seasoning now, and still has a couple of years to go before terminal rot sets in.Each slice takes about twenty minutes to cut off and then saw into smaller pieces that I can move to where the splitter will able to reach them. As you can see, I need to sharpen my chain – the saw is pulling to the right, and the cuts from each side of the trunk don’t line up. Chain sharpening is a truly horrible job, and one which I delay as long as possible – not good.Incipient rot makes wonderful patterns in the wood. Cutting this slice has revealed a detailed map of Asia and Australia drawn up by a medieval Chinese cartographer. He’s even got the boundaries between the kingdoms marked, and has coloured the Himalayas and the Hindu Kush in a fetching shade of grey. He seems not to have realised the full extent of India though. I wonder why he hid his map in my tree?