hello everyone tonight

Hi Don

I can always count on you to come up with an outstanding different view on many subjects, I am sure many looking in appreciate your take on many different aspects of life in years gone by --in your neck of the woods--

As far as handles are concerned, I agree Ash is right up there, around here hickory is right up there, never heard of birch or elm being used at least around here, as you know I like wild cherry, it seems to have a personality all its own,

It really blows me away that some would prefer elm for a broad axe handle, it is especially important that an offset handle holds it exact offset, a feature that you truly need to strike accurately

I will admit elm is a strong wood but strength isn't all that a handle needs

There may be types of elm that is genetically superior to the North American type, and I am thinking here if another wood that contains superior qualities depending on where it has grown, you can really see a difference in Northern white pine and Southern yellow pine which grows in a longer and warmer climate

Birch around here at least is the preferred wood for bending, and is fairly strong --the local bushes contain many examples of white birch that still show the weight of the ice storm about 8 years ago now--they are still bent right over touching the ground, and will regrow in this bent posture--hardly any broke--trees 6 or 8 inches in diameter bent right down--they are starting to turn upwards at their tips

Another good bending wood is black ash--the native people used this tree for baskets and other purposes--

Ash is a great fire wood and regrows quickly

Just yesterday I cut down a dead elm about 16 inches on the butt and I counted 25 growth rings--it has been dead for about 3 years now, so it would have a few more rings if it wasn't for the Dutch elm disease that about 30 years ago took most of the mature trees--being a very hardy type of tree it is trying to re establish itself, but it is a slow process, only examples in obscure locations seem to be spared

While I am on the subject of large trees, at one time elm was in that class, during the clean up in this area prior to the flooding of the St Lawrence Seaway project the largest tree in this area stood west of Cornwall Ontario along the old canal bank, and had to be cut down unfortunately-- it was 6 feet on the butt and was a landmark in that area--a slice of that tree was preserved at Upper Canada Village--at one time I knew its age but cannot recall that detail now--I expect between 2 and 3 hundred years--we had on our farm when I was a young lad a elm tree that was 4 feet in diameter which was cut down to produce 3 by 6 joists for our dairy barn--that one tree produced all the joist for the hay loft