I returned from my sojourn at our English house with what can only be described as Bubonic Flu/Ebola virus. Or as my wife Cruella called it “a cold”. I of course shrugged off her indifference and continued stoically. Her only attempt to in anyway medicate me was to make Chicken soup; but it had feathers in it, probably because the Chicken tried to climb out of the pot three times.
Anyway enough of this self pity, there was one last job to do before we can call it the end of Winter in Spain. Those who have followed this blog closely will know we have already had two stages of our Winter work: “the big Winter Chop Down”, followed by “the big blow job” and now finally we come to the last stage “shredding and chopping”.
21st February: Things I have been doing lately.
The shredding and chopping stage of the your Winter work starts with a period of patience. If you try to begin this stage whilst the cuttings are still green and the wood freshly cut then all that will happen is that your shredder will become constantly blocked by tree leaves, whilst your chainsaw will only cut slowly through “sappy” branches.
So you need to cut everything down and then leave it stored somewhere for at least a month. This will allow the leaves to become brown and crispy and the branches to dry out. The photos below show some of my mountainous piles of cuttings.
First Stage: Loping and shredding.
The first stage of the process requires you to use lopers to cut out those branches and stems that can be usefully put through your shredder. Anything that is to thick to be put though your shredder should be put to one side ready for the next stage with the chainsaw. I use shreddings in two ways. Firstly , I add a couple of buckets to my compost heap. These will mix nicely with the first mowing of the grass and give wonderful compost in 6-9 months. Secondly, I use the shreddings to line the paths in our wood. This is a cheap and cost effective way to make your paths look interesting and they supress weeds very well.
The photo below shows me in action, having cut the branches off with lopers and running them through the shredder. I have then put the thicker branches to one side for chainsawing later.
Second Stage: Chainsawing.
I know I don’t have to tell you all how dangerous chainsaws are. It only takes a second for you to be minus a finger, hand or leg. So make sure the area is clear of any obstacles; don’t try and chainsaw in the middle of a tangle of branches and never do it on your own; always make sure someone else is around. I have two chainsaws; one electric and the other petrol. I prefer the electric one as it delivers constant power, plus the fact I can never get the petrol one started. If using an electric chainsaw then make sure the cable is over your shoulder and away from any possibility of dangling into the blade.
The photo below shows my work area and all the tools you need for this stage.
Third stage: Clean up
The last stage is the clean up after everything useful has been cut or shredded. As you can see in the photo below I have ended up with piles of small logs cut to size to fit in our outside burner. These are ideal as it allows us to have barbecues outside before we get to the heat of summer.
I wish to point out all of the above stages were carried out against the advice of the World Health Organisation (WHO). Who informed me that a lesser man would have buckled under the strain of my disease. If you look closely in the photos you can see the fortitude and perserverance in my eyes; Cruella says they just look baggy and red.