Tuesday, July 15, 2014


Since we bought our house sixteen years ago, we have had an enormous oak tree growing on the south side of the house.
The south side is good.  Shade in the summer afternoon.  Open in the winter to let in the sun once the leaves drop.  Oh, the leaves, though.  Look at that tree and count the leaves.  All of them drop.  Anyway, the tree had heart rot at the base and we have been concerned for years that with a good storm and south wind the thing would fall on the house.  Look at it.  It would be "bye bye house," almost totally.

Sooooo, we decided to cut it down.  We looked for someone who would cut it down and remove the debris without backing a HUGE bucket truck up on the flower beds and destroying everything else along with the tree.  We had trouble finding someone until one day this summer we drove by a crew cutting down a similar tree at someone else's place.  They had climbed the tree and were lowering each of the branches gently down.  I stopped by a few days later and got the name of the tree man from the owner.  I called him and got him out for an estimate.  It was very reasonable, helped by the fact he sells the several tons of firewood, and he promised to do no damage to the flowers and shrubs.  He started in late June.  Can you say, "HOT"?
This is the tree after about a half day of setup and removing a few branches on the house side.  He had climbed all the way to the top and tied off ropes for future climbing and rappelling, and also for lowering the branches.  Watching him work was AMAZING!  He seemed like just a simple country guy, which I'm sure he is, but he had been cutting trees since he was eighteen, over twenty years I'm sure, and he knew exactly what he was doing.  Each branch was carefully tied off, held in place by friction from the tie off rope being wrapped around the trunk several times, and, once cut, gently lowered to the ground and cut up as it came down.  I don't believe they knocked off a single flower, although they did generate a LOT of chain saw dust.
After some more work, the tree was beginning to look a little bit gone.  

Here he is cutting the big branch off to the left. (Click the full screen symbol and HD for a better view.)
Hang on there, buddy.  I wouldn't want to be up in that tree.  Note how his sister is able to hold that big branch just by wrapping several turns of rope around the trunk.

All that was left was the highest branch to which he was tied off.

After another couple of cuts, which I missed by sitting in the air conditioned house while the crew sweltered outside, all that was left was the "pole" as he called it.

(Again, click full screen symbol and HD)
No it did not bounce, and only knocked a couple of small holes in the grass where two of the "nubs" he had left plowed all the way through the debris pile they had created for it to fall on.  Thanks to the come-along and the guy's skill, he dropped that pole exactly where he said he would and missed all the bushes just a couple of feet on either side.  I was a little concerned, and I think they were too, when the thing looked like it might take off rolling down the hill, but it only went a couple of feet, crushing nothing.

I could not count the rings to determine exactly how old the tree was because the center had rotted out, but just guessing from what I could count, I think it was between 125 and 150 years old.  Such a shame to have to cut it, but we didn't want it on our house.

Just that "pole" on the house would have necessitated almost total demolition and construction of a new house.  We didn't want to go there, but wondered if we were doing the right thing.

Looking at the extent of the hollow and rot right at the base, we're pretty comfortable with our decision.  Perhaps we could have waited a while . . . or, depending on the weather, perhaps not.  Anyway, it's gone, and we are going to miss it . . . .but not the leaf drop in the fall.

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