Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Black Spruce Down

We couldn't have arranged for it to fall as well if we'd done
it with professional equipment.
Well, there was an interesting night. We don't want to see too many more like that one. We do loathe those winds just North of Westerly, that come howling in across Vendor Anna's 5-acre field. It was not meant to be anything special; the AA-Weatherwatch boys were only predicting a 'Yellow' warning for Connacht and we have survived 'Orange' ones with no damage before. To cut a long story short, then, this one must have featured some mighty gusts of wind at around 7 pm while we were indoors eating supper because it has toppled one of our huge black spruce (Picea mariana) trees, this one between 55 and 60 feet tall (approx 17 m) (well, 'tall' last night.... 'long' now, I guess!) and with a bole circumference of 1.67m (5 feet 5") down in the pig area / Secret Garden.

The root plate lifted the corner of the pig ark by 2 feet.
We did not hear the falling of this tree and I only found it at 10 pm when I went on a last thing damage check and spotted that the pig ark seemed to be canted up at a jaunty angle. I thought that the wind might have lifted the roof section away from the base and went in to check, spotting the trunk in my torchlight, a massive grey shape where none should have been. The trunk lies diagonally across the Secret Garden with the top hanging over the rain gulley but just falling short of reaching the rather new (and expensive) sheep fence.

The fallen trunk lies diagonally across the 'Secret Garden'
with the top hanging over the rain gulley
We had had an evening of noisy gusts and of trees thrashing about and I had found more than the usual number of broken branches and twiggy bits on the drive and front lawn (and hanging off the post and rail fence) on my pre-supper dog 'patrol'. On an 8 o'clock patrol I found the roof of the young Buff-Orpington's mini-coop lifted off and flung against the wall of our normally very sheltered yard. That gust must have come straight down the cattle race. Liz helped lift the heavy roof frame back into place and give the 4 confused, huddled birds no more view of the sky. We also noticed that the yard was strewn with tins and plastic bottles - our recycling bin had gone for a Burton even though that too is protected on the east side of the house. A big offcut of plastic sheet had also made its way from the compost heaps, into and across the yard, and neatly parked itself by the Tígín door. It was some crazy kind of windy.

A new garden seat?
It was only when I decided to do a final final patrol at 10 pm after the dogs' "Last Out" that I spotted the pig ark thing. We went to take a closer look. Obviously there was nothing we could do in the dark about the tree, but the poor pig ark was groaning and creaking where it was now hanging from its two diagonal corners. I can just about drag it on its sledge runners one side at a time, so I pulled it down to flat ground where it could have a more comfortable night. I had visions of it breaking its back  like a sailing barge which has got jammed athwart (there's a good word!) a tidal creek as the tide goes out.

A flurry of more snow over the weekend had these tulips
back to looking wintery.
We were lucky really - nobody or nothing got hurt and no damage was done to fencing (or the pig ark). The tree fell neatly down into the garden and (we found today) actually landed on a concrete cavity block, neatly propping it a few inches above ground to make sawing easier. Also this morning, when I took the spare stashed straw bales out to make the ark lighter to move, I found a neat little nest with a clutch of young-Buff eggs. It is actually a tree we had been looking to take down anyway but without a contractor and risk of annihilating fences we could not see how to safely drop it. Mother Nature found a way.

New gap - red arrow
I love a good maths problem, so I decided to try to work out how much of the wood would fit into my wood store, which takes 2.4 cubic metres. Schoolboy maths then, says that the volume of a cone is Pi * radius squared * (height/3). Well this tree is 16.7m high and had a base radius of  0.2625m, so the main trunk alone will generate 1.205 cubic metres of wood. That'll do nicely. I just need to cut it up. No pressure.

The geese enjoy the new sheep drinker.
Of course, all that happy stuff is now. Last night we didn't know any of this, we just knew we were faced with a riotous stormy night with scary gusts shaking the house and a high potential for more damage, injury to livestock and more trees falling. No peaceful beauty sleep for either of us, we both tossed and turned, waking up at the slightest rumble or rattle, worried what they might signify. It was a relief when daylight finally arrived and with it calmer winds and a chance to go out and find that no new damage had actually happened. We had survived another one. What a relief.

Bobby the collie, picture borrowed from my blog post 27th
September 2014
Perhaps we earned ourselves some good 'karma' by the dog "rescue" we had done earlier in the evening. Readers may recall the appearance of a multi-coloured shaggy collie dog back last September, who turned up all loving and friendly (but devoid of any ID). He vanished again and we were only able to tell the owner who came driving along in a 4 x 4 that he had been here. Well this time he was as friendly and as unconcerned about chickens and rabbits but when he wandered into view of the sheep they spotted the unfamiliar animal and panicked and ran (to be fair, the dog did not chase them). Polly is very heavily pregnant at the moment and doesn't need that kind of stress no matter how self-inflicted, so we knew we had a problem and we could not just leave the dog loose to wander off. Rumour has it that passing stray dogs to the Dog Warden just ends up with a destroyed dog.

Liz tries out some 'basket weave' knitting.
Time for some 'detective' work; load soggy doggy into your car (nice wet seats!) and drive around in the gloaming till you find someone to whom you can ask "Do you recognise this dog?" Luckily my first ask was Mr McG and he knew the dog and where it lived so I was a few calls at 'the wrong house' from my happy re-union. The dog is called Bobby and is a well known wanderer who comes across the valley (OK the 'bog') from a house we can see from our own garden, about a mile away roughly NE of here. The owner was a lovely lady who I now know a bit and have swapped phone numbers with in case Bobby should come a-wandering again, which we are almost certain he will.

A calmer night tonight, all being well.


Anne Wilson said...

Well you have a supply of wood now, should keep you going a while. Did Liz get her missing wool?

Matt Care said...

Yes, a good half a winter's worth there at least; probably more, as my 1.2 cu m calculation would give 'liquid volume' with no air gaps. A stack of logs would obviously use more space. As to the wool, no, not yet. We are going to try on line or the big warehouse(s) up in the smoke. It's a Sirdar 'Clicks' blue and green mixture, but it seems to have been discontinued.