There I am swinging my slasher once more at Aston Rowant and what better time to have another muse. My thoughts ran as follows. It is not only the tool itself and its traditions, design and use. It is also the way it is used, let’s call it the technique of using it. I have shared my thoughts on this before.
But there is yet more. Often the tool is not used in isolation but with other tools. Notice that when a GGer disappears into the bush or brush he or she is often carrying not one but two or even three tools. Even the gloves often worn or tucked under the arm may become part of this tool bag in their turn.
Yes, gloves. You take them off when using the slasher you put them back on when using another tool. Then you use the gloved hand to pull brambles out of a mass of vegetation. I have not mentioned feet which are used to trample down material so that it is easier to see what to cut and how to cut. Feet and hands are tools in their way.
Each tool has unique characteristics and this means each has its own particular function and application. You have to match the tool to the job and use other tools in a combination for the job.
Let’s take clearing brambles round the juniper trees at AR.
A clump of brambles you can’t get into with the shears but with the slasher you can cut across both ways and down through the mass, once this is done you can get in with the shears cutting off at the base then draw out with a gloved hand. An encounter with a thicker stem of wood or a thicker piece of rose can be sorted out with the lopper
This is a question of tactics. In my long way back days in the Army we had strategy, tactics and weapons here it is strategy, tactics and tools. Can we apply this to each task and site? The long term direction of site management usually in the hands of the client gives us the strategy, what we do and when if we visit a site regularly. We need to know what that strategy is to appreciate the part we play. The medium term is the tactics, could be clearance of undergrowth first, felling, clearing up, burning. Immediate term is use of tools in isolation or together as described above.
Too much detail for happy GG volunteers who just want to do the job? Maybe. However in my experience all analysis and theorising tends to get diluted so if you start over detailed you may end up with a good standard of workable practice.
Wait till I get on to scything! More to come…….
Mike, 10 November 2015