The Alder tree grows profusely all along the riverbank here at Le Banquet. It's a bit of a weed as it seeds itself about with as much ease as Sycamore. Conditions are perfect as it loves to have 50 percent of its roots in water which is all well and good but eventually erosion and tunneling from various animals can undermine the root structure and lead to the tree leaning at quite an angle. This becomes a concern when it's near to property, believe me. I always get twitchy whenever the wind gets up so it was time to have it felled.

There were six trunks growing from this tree, five were felled, but one had to be dismantled piece by piece as it was so close to 'La Fermette'. Pictured above is Matt who did the job. He'd 'march' up the tree with the ease of a bear (he's wearing tree climbing spikes) loop a rope around near the top which in turn was then tied to the towing bar on the 4 x 4. The car would then reverse to put tension on the tree, a cut was made and (((thud))), it's down. All very exciting.

No Vertigo there then, none whatsoever.

All the trunks and large branches were neatly cut into 50 centimetre lengths,

so much firewood, I reckon there's a good six cubic metres or thereabouts. Give it a year or so exposed to the elements and it'll be good to burn. 'Seasoned' is the correct term. Apparently trees felled in winter have a lower water content than those felled in summer which means they need less drying time.

The potential heat output from wood is measured as a 'calorific' value. Hardwoods such as Oak and Ash have high calorific value which means they generate a lot of heat when burnt, softwoods a lot less. I don't think Alder has a particularly high number, but it's not bad so I'll be using it next winter.

You can see a table of the heating output that various wood gives by clicking here.

Karen and I spent most of the weekend burning the twigs and small branches, It's been nice standing around a bonfire as it's been another cold, slate grey day.


  1. What a mine of information you are! I was particularly pleased to read the 'Burning Wood' table as we have an apple tree and a pear tree which have expired and need to be axed, and I'm tempted to hang on to the wood for bonfires...not that I'll be popular with the neighbours if I do..!

  2. That is a lot of firewood and I know you feel safer with the tree away from your house.

  3. We just cut down a tiny little apple tree (15 ft tall) that was leaning over our driveway. The twigs and small branches made great kindling for fires in the fireplace this winter and next winter the trunk will go for the main logs for several fires. We may need to cut down down 3 more little apple trees. I hope we can plan ahead and "chip" the wood to use for smoking poultry in our grill.

    I have very much enjoyed reading your blog and appreciating your photographs.

  4. What a nice lot of firewood! I bet you're happy to have those trees down -- they really were leaning.

  5. Your fast growing alder sounds similar to our Douglas Fir: rapid growing and with it's shallow root system, quick to topple with any wind storm; we saw one fall onto the roof of our neighbors home. Shortly thereafter he was falling several that could potentially do more harm.

    Hope you and Karen had a great weekend.

  6. What a lovely pile of firewood.

    Actually, the little river with all the trees along it remind me of my sister-in-law's place, probably because her little river is choked up with - you guessed it- Alder. Alder is supposed to be good for smoking things.

    Personally, I'll take just about any kind of wood for firewood, as long as I can get it free!

  7. Oh I love the look of a new stack of firewood! It has a certain existential angst about it, once living, soon, relatively speaking to be burned and offer heat. I love to watch the tree experts do their work, admiring their bravery and deft cuts.

  8. I love the feeling of seeing neatly stacked wood Rob! Knowing how it will warm us in the coldest months. It is interesting that you do not split the wood before stacking? Your Alders sound like our Black Locust. You are right to be cautious regarding removing trees that may fall on life and property! It is always sad however, and usually I miss them when spring arrives as noise insulators and the musical green they offer. Thanks for the link! It is so interesting! It is fun to end the clean up with a bonfire . . . especially on a cold grey day. I so admire my tree guys too ... the agility of monkeys when they dart up the trunks of trees. It can be a dangerous job but never a thankless one. What a wonderful water feature you have... looks pretty high!!!!

  9. Looks like some roaring fires are coming your way in the fall! Great post.

  10. Found your blog through Sweet Bay. Love it!

  11. I can smell the woodsmoke as you tell the story of cutting your tree.

    And I would love to hear your stream. Perhaps imbed a video???

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

  12. Wow that is a lot of firewood! Once the snow melts here in Virginia, I've got to get someone from the forestry service here to review our timber...then we have to get someone in to thin and trim. I'm not looking forward to it. I love my woods too much, but I know it must be done. Beautiful pictures!

  13. I am going to have to go to the burning wood table and check that out. We always burn firewood, and this year we have a lot of trees that need to come down after our 5 year drought. Of course we are no longer in a drought so I too am nervous when the wind blows. The mimosa tree that we have comes up just as fast, but I don't think we have ever burned it. I do get mad when those little seedlings come up in my garden!

  14. For a minute I thought that you were up that tree Rob. What a woodpile!

  15. When I saw the title of your post, I was afraid a tree had fallen. Glad to see that it came down under control!

    That's a bit of firewood there!

    It seems the entire world is gray and cold! At least it seems that way. I saw that it had snowed on the Cote d'Azur!

    At least you have truffles to get you through the winter! :-)


  16. Good call chopping that ash down, however sad I am to see live trees go! We had to do the same with a sycamore a few years ago.

    I love the sight of a good, well stacked nice high woodpile Rob! Himself chopped and split a load of logs at the weekend, but our pile isn't as big as yours!

    I must show Himself that 'Burning Wood' table when he gets home ...right up his street!

  17. Better someone else than me up there! Despite ropes and whatever else, I'd still be scared silly.
    We just dug out 3 cherry trees that expired - only 2 inch diameter each, but the trunks are so pretty that I wish we could carve walking sticks or table legs out of them.

  18. Glad you had it taken down before it went down on it's own. I love watching those professionals tree trimmers go up and down the trees.
    Looks like you'll be well stocked with firewood now.

  19. Lovely - this is really great work for the winter - have been out pruning Hazels today - beautiful sunny, cold and blue skies here in Brittany and so good to have been able to get out properly! Miranda

  20. Well the tree cutter must make a pile of money cutting Alder trees. He probably had a pocket full of seeds up there and insured his next 10 years of work.

    I like the smell of burning wood and it's so satisfying that there are no more worries of it falling on your little shack.

    Great to be by your fire today Rob.

  21. Indeed, you will sleep better, Rob. We often must do major pruning both here and at the cottage where we burn mostly seasoned oak. Fast growing silver maples are often prone to storm damage as are cedars that line the back of our property. We have an old sentinel elm leaning toward our house that makes me nervous :( especially during heavy winds and ice storms. We have been assured it's OK but we worry and, because it's an old friend, I hate the thought of loosing it (but I also hate the thought of it taking US out)!

  22. I am having a fun time on your blog. I had four years of french (most forgotten) but I really need to brush up. I know your blog is in English, but there are a smattering of french words. I look forwarding to visiting your site often.

  23. What an interesting post Rob and how lovely the log pile looks ready for next winter or two or three. What a beutiful place you and Karen live by the river too as an added extra.

  24. That deep pool on the river looks like it could be a great source of wild trout and crayfish Rob - have you tried fishing it?

    We bought a little crayfish net and took it to the lake last summer and caught......one crayfish:)

    Hope all's well and the season's filling up?



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