Full Chisel Blog

July 1, 2011

The only Good tree is a Dead tree.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 5:06 pm

That may or may not be true. Logs come from dead trees and that is good. Timber and lumber also comes from dead trees and that is good. Firewood comes from dead trees and that is good. Amber comes from trees that are dead now and that is also good. Dead trees decompose and improve the soil which is a good thing. Dead wood is used to smoke meat, preserving and flavoring the flesh, to smoke leather, to make it waterproof and hide glue exposed to wood smoke will make it waterproof, all are good.
At one time in American history trees and products from trees [Navel Stores] were strategic materials of enough importance to cause the King of England to declare them his personal property and their unauthorized use a criminal offence. Shot with a musket with a wooden gun stock or hung from a tree, how appropriate.
Dead trees that have not been properly attended to, produce catastrophic forest fires and that is not very good. Trees not judicially managed become infected with insects and blight and that isn’t good at all as near as I can tell. There are so many standing dead trees that are not being utilized and that is both a national tragedy and a terrible waste of valuable natural resources and that is just silly. Jack Handy once said: “If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason.”
Sap comes from living conifers and is made into turpentine and colophony rosin and that is good. Maple syrup comes from living sugar bush and that is sweet and good. Walnuts and other tree nuts come from living trees and they are tasty and good. Peaches, apples, pears and other fruits come from living trees and of course they are both delicious and good.
In the fall we marvel at the colors the trees ‘turn’. Well what really happens is the chlorophyll [the green stuff] dies and allows the yellows and reds; that have always been there to show through. Decreasing sunlight does this; Jack Frost not so much. Acorns from oak trees made ‘mast’ a food source for hogs in the nineteenth century in the Midwest. The decomposing trees produced some of the finest soil on the continent.
Trees [large vascular plants] are the largest biomass on earth and produce the most oxygen and scrub the most carbon dioxide, and if I remember my high school biology and chemistry correctly, that is a very good thing being a mouth breather.
Here is a conundrum, turpentine is high in VOC [volatile organic content, or some such thing] and this is considered a bad thing, those nasty VOC’s. However, the pine tree from whence the turpentine comes through the process of tapping living evergreen trees, and distilling the sap down to get turpentine and rosin, will actually give off those volatiles on their own, while just standing there, without any help from man, those nasty pine trees. How green is that?
We are here today because of trees both living and dead. From cradle to coffin wood surrounds us our entire lives. And the trees seem to keep coming backing back no matter what we do. Well maybe no. But they do seem to be persistent and we should probably encourage them to stick around. They do come in handy, dead or alive.


  1. a lot of naval (sic) gazing here

    Comment by r francis — July 2, 2011 @ 3:30 am

  2. Having just watched the Lord of The Rings trilogy in our local theater, I must beg to differ with you. As an aspiring Ent, I find your discussion of the positive side of the Death Of Trees to be disturbing.


    Comment by Gary Roberts — July 2, 2011 @ 2:16 pm

  3. Speaking of navel gazing;
    During the mid 18th c., the English Navy consumed a quantity of oak from the N. American forests large enough to cover a 2 acre swath of land approx. 750 miles long. At the time, England’s navy was as large as the rest of Europe’s navy combined…and this is not including merchant ships. (Data extrapolated from the book, “Oak”.)

    Comment by Steven M. Lalioff — July 4, 2011 @ 5:41 am

  4. r. francis,

    Somebody has got to do it. My computer has a spell checker, what it needs is a stupid checker.

    I have to admit I have only read the first of Tolkien’s works, then read Yale Realist’s version ‘Bored of the Rings’ and I have not seen any of the movies.

    I saw a couple trees that the King missed in Morristown New Jersey, still can see the broad arrow.


    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — July 4, 2011 @ 6:39 am

  5. I will submit that Bored Of The Rings stands as one of the finest parodies in the English language.

    Comment by Gary Roberts — July 4, 2011 @ 11:41 pm

  6. Excellent rant, Stephen. Three cheers!

    Comment by Joe Cottonwood — July 5, 2011 @ 12:39 pm

  7. I live in Nebraska and will take any trees I can get! There kinda sparse around here.

    Comment by Nebraska Ron — July 5, 2011 @ 11:20 pm

  8. Your reference to “Acorns from oak trees made ‘mast’ a food source for hogs in the nineteenth century in the Midwest” interested me because in the UK ‘Common of Mast’ is still practiced. It’s basically a custom where domestic pigs are turned out in the New Forest to feed on the fallen acorns.

    Some years there’s an overabundance of fallen acorns and that is a serious problem for the New Forest ponies. Whilst pigs can happily feed on acorns they are toxic to horses with the result that they destroy their kidneys and liver.

    It does seem odd that acorns are food for one animal and poison to another.

    Comment by Peter Penman — July 6, 2011 @ 4:34 pm

  9. Interesting point about VOC emitting trees. Maybe that’s why tree-huggers at times seem
    a bit goofy. (I’m a tree hugger, now I have an excuse to tell my wife when she wonders
    about my off kilter approach to life)

    Comment by Geroge Merrill — July 7, 2011 @ 12:24 pm

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