The temperature has dropped and the rain has bucketed down. The ground out there is very soggy. Winter conditions have at last come to the east of England.
And timed arrival to perfection to coincide with the one tonne machine that has come up from Mersea Island by trailer to grind our roots. Paul and I have talked a lot about his stumpbuster on the telephone and reduced it to vital statistics. Photographs have pinged back and forth by email. We have a 900mm gap between us and the next house (if we take the gate right off and we have). His machine is a millimetre or two less than that. Will it fit through?
It does. The sky is low and sleet storms come and go. All day the teeth of the stumpgrinder churn, eating their way through stumps felled and left in the ground. Chomping away like an aardvark clawing the termite mound.
Why have we bothered? Two good reasons. A large stump of a long gone cherry is wearing an amber necklace of Armillaria mellea
(or a close cousin) It is better know as honey fungus which feeds off dead stumps before sending root-like rhizomorphs through the ground to prey on living trees and shrubs. And then there are a smattering of stumps just exactly where today’s fencers are to put in chain link fencing and dig it in.
Let the mud and sawdust bath begin.