A scorching hot (25C) day, a forest, chopping my way through undergrowth, sweat pouring out of me - I must have been in the jungle? No - I was in Ballingate "sawing sticks" in a bog! 15 years ago my Dad planted trees in what we used to call the "bog" - it was time to cut down some of the trees to make passages and to thin out the heavy growth, this is an essential part of managing a forest. So I went down to Ballingate to help my Dad Joe, and my brother Joe cut down some trees.
As the trees are about 15 years old there were not too many large ones to cut down - but it was hot work. My Mum and Dad have a solid fuel cooker, so most of today's harvest will find its way into the cooker next winter. I also took some home for my own fire. As long as I can remember - "sawing sticks" has been a major activity on our family farm. The sound of the chainsaw, the smell of petrol and oil, the sawdust, nettles, logs - all bring back a lot of memories of my youth in Ballingate. Later we adjourned to Conway's Bar in Kildavin for a thirst quenching glass of cider.
In 1978 Dad bought a new Zetor tractor - at that time the family farm was very busy and it was one of three tractors in operation. During harvest time my job was to bale straw with this tractor. One day, in Bob Murphy's field, I managed to crash this tractor into the back of a combine harvester driven by my brother Joe - we were both doing about 0.5 mph! The tractor suffered extensive damage, I was in the bad books, and I can remember my Dad marching up the field to the crash scene muttering "My new tractor". To date this is my most serious traffic accident! 34 years later I was in the same tractor again today - it is still working despite my best efforts to destroy it. To the right is a photo of my Dad driving same tractor coming out of the bog onto the Carnew-Bunclody road. Note the brand new tyres on the front! There's another 34 years in this tractor I feel!