A tall oak tree next to our house died. I’m not sure what killed it but we do have some invasive species killing oaks all over the place up here. Judi thought it might have been brought in with a shipment of flat screen TVs from China but I say it was a shipment of squash from South American. Nothing good every came from eating squash.
The tree, about 10 inches in diameter at the base, was at least 50 feet tall. I normally let dead trees come down on their own because they offer good insect hunting for wood peckers. But this tree had to come down. It was only five feet from our house and any strong winds could have brought it or some of its branches, crashing down on the house.
I’m not a logger but my logger neighbor said it would be an easy drop – make a couple of chainsaw cuts and push it over. Oh sure, I should push over a fifty foot tree! For that kind of leverage, I’d have to add at least fifty pounds of bulk to my frame. That won’t happen until Thanksgiving and that tree really needed to go now.
The tree was positioned such that I could drop it into an open area in front of the house. My bird feeders were located behind the tree; a tall tree was only two feet to one side and the house just five feet to the other. The tree could only safely fall in one direction. The key word here is ‘safely.”
My last experience with taking down a tree didn’t go so well. It was a big birch. I tied a long rope to the tree and looped it round another tree down hill to act as a pulley. I put Judi and two friends on the tag end of the rope up hill figuring they’d get pulley type leverage and help direct the tree’s fall. As I made my cuts I didn’t hear the screams over the chain saw’s buzz. Finally a loud whistle caught my attention; I looked up and dove out of the way just as the tree crashed in the exact opposite of the intended direction and right where I had just been standing. Judi and our friends had an “Oh crap that was close!” look on their faces while I sported an “I need fresh underwear” expression. A couple weeks ago when I told Judi I planned to take down the dead oak next to our house, she didn’t say much but I did notice she moved my life insurance file to the front of the file cabinet.
After weeks of procrastination, I finally got the courage to take down my dead oak. I got a ladder, wrapped a rope high up around the tree, and then stretched it seventy feet and around another tree out front. I made a trucker’s hitch in the rope and pulled the tag end through making a rope pulley. I put as much tension on the rope as my pre-Thanksgiving body-mass could manage and tied it off. I figured the tension would direct the fall of the oak. Then I got the chain saw.
Because I was a little nervous, I managed to flood the chain saw. Three times! This may have been fate telling me to scrap the whole ‘cutting down a tree thing’ but I persisted, got the saw going, and went at the tree. I made my cuts and tree began to topple – in the right direction. “Eureka!” I shouted. You probably wonder, “Who shouts, Eureka at a tree?!” Well Eureka looks much better in print then what I really shouted.
My Eureka turned to “Oh Darn!” (poetic license again) when the dead oak hung up in the neighboring tree after tilting a mere three feet. I ran to the front of the house and started pulling on the rope to free the tree. I looked up and saw Judi’s face in the window with that, “What has he gotten into now?” expression I’ve seen so often. I yanked and yanked on that rope but the stupid tree just hung there. I don’t know if there are smart trees and stupid trees but if there are, let me confirm that this one was really, really, really stupid.
Judi came out, reviewed my predicament and calmly said, “Look at that, your dead oak is hung up on a little twig. Let me help you.” She gave a light tug on the rope and the tree came free, slamming to the ground in front of us. It was one of those typical male / female moments. I do the 99% of hard work freeing it up, then Judi steps in and does the last 1% with that “What’s the big deal, this isn’t so hard.” look.
I’ve proven again that I’m no logger. I suggested to Judi that maybe next time I’ll hire a real logger. Of course you realize that I won’t really hire a logger but it seems to make Judi feel better when I say stuff like that. I see she moved my life insurance policy to the back of the file cabinet again.