"Felling is the process of cutting down individual trees; the person cutting the trees is a feller."
That internet gem brightened my day.
Borers and drought had killed a eucalypt next to the house, and dead branches hung above the water tank and deck.
It had to go, and I was researching a chainsaw massacre.
I would work carefully, one branch at a time, starting low.
No heroics, and soon we'd have several winters' worth of firewood.
Perhaps, if all went well, I'd sing as I worked. Monty Python's Lumberjack Song came to mind:
I'm a lumberjack and I'm OK; I sleep all night, I work all day
I cut down trees, I eat my lunch; I go to the lavatory
On Wednesdays I go shopping; And have buttered scones for tea
I cut down trees, I skip and jump; I like to press wild flowers
I put on women's clothing; And hang around in bars
I cut down trees, I wear high heels; Suspenders and a bra
I wish I were a girlie; Just like my dear papa.
Not that that's what I'd be wearing.
So, the plan called for a middle-aged bloke up a ladder with a chainsaw. What could go wrong?
The more I read, the colder I went on the idea...
"If the saw binds up it can kick back and alter your appearance."
"Every piece of equipment used in this process is called a widow-maker".
And, from SBS in 2016:
"Each year roughly 5000 people are hospitalised for injuries after falling off a ladder. The most at-risk group is older men, aged 60 plus."
A neighbour, do-anything-for-you Hugh, and his team, Renaissance man Matt and likeable 17-year-old apprentice Lachie, came to the rescue.
As well as the amazing conservation stuff they do with trees, they remove dead ones. Safely.
They brought one really big chainsaw and two small ones. There was what looked like mountain climbing gear and kitchen utensils hanging off Matt; and no ladders - 'too unstable', he reckons.
We tied up the dog and sat back to watch the show. Tim-berrr!
It was all over in half a day, including time off for the fellas/fellers to get stuck into dear wife's lasagne, and 20 minutes fixing a chain after it snagged a bolt, mysteriously 10cm inside the tree.
No injuries, nothing crushed or broken, and branches cut to fireplace-size length, ready for splitting (that's where I do my bit).
How difficult was it, Hugh? "About a 3 out of 10".
For me it would have been a 10, maybe without living to tell the tale.