Darrell in the meantime had decided the best position for our yards was on the road at our furthest boundary. This would give all-weather access for trucks, good drainage when it rained so that the hooves of the animals wouldn’t sink into mud and a nice grass paddock that we were then to encourage the cattle to camp.
Knowing the dimensions of the crush we set to, making a cement pad on which it would be placed and bolted. The cementing completed Darrell brought his tractor and proceeded to search for the perfect timbers for the yards and the race. When found, the chainsaw went to work, cutting the tree down then chaining it to his tractor to pull it back to our work area. We had little to do with this process but once he had enough trees on our work site he taught us how to debark them.
Debarking was necessary, Darrell told us, because the bark rots at a different rate to the hardwood beneath. If the bark was left on the tree, when it decayed, the pier hole it sat in would be too big for the now thinner post making it loose and destabilising the structure.
Rod and I were given an implement resembling a giant cheese slicer. Darrell demonstrated the technique. Using a tomahawk he lifted a section of the bark allowing him to insert the wire and then he pulled the tool down the length of the tree removing that section of bark. With the successful removal of a strip of bark, a knife was then inserted under the remaining bark and run down the length on either side loosening it from the wood. The bark was then pulled from the log in one piece.
It looked easy but we found it was back-breaking work and, until we perfected the art, we could only remove small sections at a time. What Darrell had managed to do in three steps took us ten or more. It didn’t take long before I could feel the start of blisters coming. Luckily Darrell continued to work with us but instead of the cheese slicer implement he was using a machete with equal skill enabling him to do at least two trees to our one.
Whilst we were having a “smoko”, although none of us smoked, in the shade of a tree on the side of the road another local drove past.
“Howse you goin’?” Darrell asked
“Not bad and youse?”
“Yer. Need rain but.”
“Good price they got for beasts at Taree last week”
The conversation continued, slowly with long pauses between sentences. Darrell had by now squatted, one leg out in front giving him balance and he sucked absently on a stem of grass. The other chap stayed in the car, his head, resplendent in a worn felt cockies hat, poked out of the wound-down window. They stayed like that for just over an hour but after ten minutes Rod and I decided to walk to the house for a cool drink.