How To Avoid A Chainsaw Massacre
Country Life UK|September 15, 2021
Why foresters have to be a hardy breed
Jamie Blackett

I’M afraid we’ll no be here for a few days.’ Willie looks a bit sheepish as he goes on to explain: ‘We had a bit of an accident yesterday.’ My mind races around various possibilities. Of all the operations that happen on the estate, with the possible exception of loading cattle onto trucks, felling trees is the most dangerous.

Foresters are a hardy breed and all too many of the ones I have known have carried some disfigurement with them as badges of their trade and as a permanent reminder of the need for health and safety in the workplace, even if, or rather, particularly, if your workplace happens to be 60ft up a tall beech tree.

Jock, who tended our woods when I was a child, was missing a little finger. I used to stare at it in their cottage, with hindsight probably rather rudely, as I tucked into the local delicacy, homemade tablet (pronounced ‘tarblet’, an extra-sweet form of fudge) made by his wife, Nancy, who was our nanny. He had cut a piece of timber rather too finely and pushed it through the circular blade in the sawmill. Family legend has it that my grandmother packed the severed digit in ice and drove him to the hospital, but they were unable to sew it back on.

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