There has been a fairly large pine tree in our yard since we moved in to our house a few years ago. At least since then, it has had a decent sized split at the base of the trunk, with a chunk splitting off for about the first 10′ of the three. The tree was large enough where it didn’t seem to matter, and was plenty healthy at the top of the tree. Over the past few months, however, I have noticed a LOT of carpenter ants crawling around in the split, and the way the tree was situated, the weak part of the tree would have meant that if it fell, it would have come down directly on our bedroom. I like adventure, but a 100′ tall pine crashing down on top of my wife and I at 2 AM is not what I have in mind, so my landlord had some guys come out and cut it down this afternoon.

tree1Watching someone cut down a huge tree in a residential neighborhood is awfully entertaining, since they have to climb up and cut down each branch, then start cutting chunks off the top. Huge limbs come down with an almost soft landing thanks to all the needles, but the huge chunks of needleless wood leave log sized holes in the yard with a resounding thud. My neighbors had free entertainment for a few hours and some even sat of their porches watching the whole process. The main thought in my head the whole time: “I bet there is fatwood in the damaged part.” I know, I’m a weirdo.

tree2Sure enough, I was very right. The split portion was dead and rotted, but the other side of the split that was still part of the relatively healthy tree was completely saturated with resin. Hardened resin was also caked all around the edges of the split. I took a small hatchet and chopped in a little way to be sure of the fatwood content and was rewarded with a tool that kept sticking in the gooey mess (good sign, but not good if you like clean tools).

tree3As I pushed the logs around, I came to the base pieces and was suddenly very glad that they took care of the tree when they had. A good 1/4 of the lowest part of the trunk was completely rotten, filled with carpenter ant larvae and adult ants crawling around looking none too pleased. The wood crumbled at the touch, which made me wonder what would happen in the summer thunderstorms a couple of months away.

After confirming the fatwood content, I grabbed my axe and chopped off a small tub full of chunks. This was seriously some of the best fatwood I have ever found, with an almost tree4translucent appearance from the high resin saturation. I put a flame to a small piece, and it instantly caught in a nice, hot flame. With three stumps worth of fatwood sitting in the backyard, I didn’t exactly need more cluttering up the patio. I also don’t exactly need more flashlights and knives, but that doesn’t stop me from pursuing them to the ends of the earth.

If you are unlucky enough to have pine trees on your property (I should probably move out of the south due to my hatred of pines), take a close look at them. You might already have all the fatwood that you need sitting in your yard, but hopefully the tree is further away from your house than mine was.

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