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29 April 2007


size Driveway We were visited by a brontosaurus.  It ate our neighbor's jungle.  It wasn't native jungle, it had originally been cleared maybe 50 years ago and planted with macadamia nut trees.  It was abandoned maybe 20 or 30 years ago and has been turning into a giant weed patch ever since.  Now it is being replanted with Kona coffee.

The easiest access to the property being cleared was via our driveway.  The brontosaurus machine is 11 feet wide.  The operator and I measured my driveway at exactly 11 feet wide.  It took some care but he managed to maneuver the machine down my driveway without taking out the electric fence.

Crossing the street is a challenge too.  The treads would tear up the asphalt so it's necessary to put down old tires as a buffer.  As the excavator drives across the tires a crew will pick up the tires from the back and set them down in front.  In this particular instance they had maybe 1/4 mile worth of road to traverse, shuffling heavy old tires the entire way.

Fecon Once off the road and back in the jungle, its native habitat, the "brontosaurus" is amazing to watch.  The working end of the contraption is actually called a Fecon and it is installed on an excavator where the bucket would normally be.  Inside there are steel hammers that spin at nearly the speed of light.  It's not necessary to actually touch the tree because as soon as the machine gets close the branches seem to explode out of fear.  There's a warning on the machine that says "Stay Back 300 feet".  That's not an exaggeration.  I was watching from at least 300 feet away and the thing could fling large chunks of wood right to my feet.

The operator had estimated two days but it took more like four to clear the entire area, probably about two acres or so.  The machine can grind the tree stumps right down to ground level, leaving behind nothing but large piles of mulch.  It very much looks like a large dinosaur had come by and eaten the tree.  It was amazing to watch the transformation.  Coffee farming sure would be a different experience if I had to worry about keeping wild dinosaurs out of the fields.  I think I'd need a bigger electric fence.


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