29 April 2007
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.
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.