Debarking: Trog and other Animals

IMG_0027Darrell 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?”

“I’m alright.”

“Good weather?”

“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.


About Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

I began my working career as a reluctant potato peeler whilst waiting to commence my training as a student nurse. On completion I worked mainly in intensive care/coronary care; finishing my hospital career as clinical nurse educator in intensive care. A life changing period as a resort owner/manager on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu was followed by recovery time as a farmer at Bucca Wauka. Having discovered I was no farmer and vowing never again to own an animal bigger than myself I took on the Barrington General Store. Here we also ran a five star restaurant. Working the shop of a day 7am - 6pm followed by the restaurant until late was surprisingly more stressful than Tanna. On the sale we decided to retire and renovate our house with the help of a builder friend. Now believing we knew everything about building we set to constructing our own house. Just finished a coal mine decided to set up in our backyard. Definitely time to retire we moved to Queensland. I had been writing a manuscript for some time. In the desire to complete this I enrolled in a post grad certificate in creative Industries which I completed 2013. I followed this by doing a Master of Arts by research graduating in 2017. Now I live to write and write to live.
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2 Responses to Debarking: Trog and other Animals

  1. fictionfitz says:

    it is amazing how writing daily improves our abilities. Yours keeps getting better and better. I enjoy how you are interfacing dialogue. What an interesting life.


    • Thanks. It is funny I was so nervous when I first started. Although I had written and a few people that I knew had read and critiqued my work it is quite different having an audience that you don’t know. I really am enjoying my daily writing and going through photographs that I haven’t looked at for years. Thanks for your encouragement and enjoyment.


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