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Felling Trees

winch, stumps, stump, chain, chains, timber and tree

FELLING TREES. The cutting down of trees at the proper time, and in the best manner, requires both knowledge and skill. Its proper season is deter mined by various causes, as maturity of growth, defects in the trees, and new arrangements. Every tree that indicates decay, ought to be immediately felled, as its value will rapidly decrease. In all trees, there are three stages—youth, manhood, and age. The beginning of manhood is the fittest period for removing trees. All plantations, when arrived at maturity, ought to be cut down and replanted. Winter is the proper season for l felling trees that are not to be disbarked ; but summer is preferable for those of the resinous tribes. In spring and autumn, the wood is fullest of sap; in winter and summer the least so, and therefore it is the fittest time, generally speaking, for levelling them. But in felling oaks, and such as have to be disbarked or peeled, the early part of the spring, before the leaves appear, is found to be the fittest period, as the bark will at that time easily separate, or " run," as the workmen term it. The preparatory operation to felling, is disbranching the trees of such limbs as may endanger the tree in its fall. In arms of timber that are very great, it is always necessary to chop or sink in them close to the bole, and then meeting it with downright strokes, it will be severed from the tree without splitting. In felling the tree, take care always to cut it as close to the ground as pos sible, unless it is intended to be grubbed up; and the doing that is of advantage both to the timber and the wood ; for timber is never so much valued, if it be known to grow out of old stocks. In the clearing of woodland, the extirpation of the stumps and roots is the most laborious part of the process. In British America, the ordinary method is to allow the stumps to remain for a number of years, according to their size. During this period, the smaller fibres gradually decay, and the root itself is each year removed a little from its original position by the frost. When the far mer judges that tune has so far produced decay, as to render the removal of the stumps and roots practicable by the usual means, he pitches upon the spring of the year, when the soil has been loosened by the returning heat; and with the assistance of four or five men, and a couple of pairs of oxen, he effects his purpose, by a great deal of labour, and under a disadvantageous application of power, owing to the softness of the ground.

In 1821, J. Mackay, Esq. of Pictou, Nova Scotia, cut down the trees and removed the timber from a field of ten acres. The following were the means adopted by that gentleman for clearing the ground of the stumps and roots, which proved so effectual, that with the assistance of four men he cleared upon an average 80 stumps a day, and with them every root which could impede the progress of the plough. A ship's winch, or movable crane, was the machine used for accumulating a great mechanical power; this was brought into the middle of about an acre of stumps, and fastened to the largest of them. From the barrel of the winch a chain proceeded, which extended to the farthest stump in the piece; a number of shorter chains were also provided, each having a ring at one end, and a hook at the other. By passing the hook through the ring, they were fixed upon the stumps nearest to that to which the chain of the winch was attached, and when it was raised, these chains were in succession hooked to the leader, so that the winch was employed without interruption, till the nearest stump was extracted. In clearing Mr. Mackay's field, five hands were employed; two at the winch, two in fixing the chains, and one at the stump to be raised. When the stump was large, those who attended the chains occasionally assisted in turning the winch.

Reference to the Engraving on the preceding page.—a a the two winch handles of the crane b b, which is chained to the largest stump c ; d d the leading chain, proceeding from the barrel to a distant stump A, to be hooked on to the leading chain d d as soon as it has raised the stump e, and has been disengaged from it, so that the different stumps are raised in succession, from the farthest to the nearest. The winch is then removed to face the next portion, and the chain extended to the farthest it can reach, while the shorter chains are attached to the right and left stumps, and hooked on in succession to the leading chain, and thus continued until a whole circle round the winch has been cleared. Should the stump to which the winch is attached be liable to give way, it will be requisite to lash it to one or two in the rear, to secure the purchase.