Lights, camera, action! If you follow us on Facebook, you might have heard about our TV debut on the show Wie’s Jou Poppie? It first aired on Wednesday, 6 September at 8:30 pm on VIA TV (that’s channel 147 on DSTV).
We were sceptical about getting involved when we were first approached by Life in a Bulb (the producers of the series). However, after chatting to the production manager we decided this would be a wonderful opportunity to show people what tree fellers really do.
Izel Bezuidenhout and Melinda Bam get to be tree fellers for a day
By now, you’re probably wondering what the show is about. The presenter is former Miss SA, Melinda Bam who is joined by a new (equally lovely) co-presenter each week to take on a challenge. This could be anything from sky-diving to working on a pig farm or learning how to handle a variety of firearms at a shooting range. At its core, the show is really about busting the ‘poppie’ stereotype.
For the episode featuring Brands Tree Fellers, Melinda Bam was joined by the talented actress, Izel Bezuidenhout. An immense amount of planning and preparation went into setting everything up for the shoot. We secured a location and even went shopping for new clothes – for the presenters, that is!
Tree maintenance can be dangerous work, so the ladies were kitted out with all the necessary safety gear such as safety glasses, earplugs, hard hats, gloves, chainsaw pants and dust masks. A far cry from their usual attire, but essential for operating a chainsaw. Melinda and Izel may not have been impressed with their new outfits, but the owner, Gerry Brand, thought they carried the look off well.
All our staff undergoes strict training before working with the equipment we use, but Melinda and Izel would have to make do with a crash course in operating a chainsaw. Not only does it require upper body strength to get it started, you also have to observe strict safety precautions. With a lot of effort, a few giggles, and some teamwork the chainsaw roared into life and the real work could start.
Former Miss SA, Melinda Bam tries her hand at starting a chainsaw.
After they practised sawing through a tree trunk, it was time for the ladies to test their appetite for heights. Tree fellers use harnesses to hoist themselves up into trees to carry out pruning. Once again, our experienced team was on hand to demonstrate the correct technique and both Melinda and Izel seemed to enjoy this part of the challenge.
Finally, it was time to tackle one of the biggest jobs tree fellers face—felling a tree. Our in-house horticulturist, Francois Malan, was there to assure Melinda and Izel that the tree they would be removing was an invasive species. These are non-native trees that need to be removed because they have a negative impact on the local ecology. They tend to consume more water, displace indigenous plants and increase soil erosion. Together, Melinda and Izel managed to cut through the trunk, bringing the tree down.
Timber! With the assistance of one of the Brands Tree Felling Team, Melinda Bam fells an invasive tree.
However, that’s not where a tree feller’s job ends. The wood and offcuts that result can still be recycled. The trunk can be converted into planks for making furniture, or chopped up and turned into firewood. The offcuts are fed into a wood chipper which turns them into mulch – an organic material that’s a must-have for any garden.
Finally, the offcuts are loaded into the woodchipper to make marvelous mulch!
At the end of the day, both Melinda and Izel had gained an insight into the work that goes into caring for trees, and a better understanding of what the team at Brands Tree Felling gets up to every day. Despite the fact that our team did such a good job on the show, there’s no danger that they’ll quit their day jobs anytime soon. It’s clear to see that their real passion lies in taking care of our country’s beautiful trees.
Izel Bezuidenhout clearly seems to have mastered the chainsaw.
We’d like to thank Life in a Bulb Productions for asking us to take part in this series. The production team was most professional and we appreciate having the opportunity to show the public our passion for trees.