We have had ownership of this property for almost exactly a year now, and as we finally wrap up the renovations and look forward to getting our furniture from Jakarta, I seem to have killed our tallest tree.
Quick, somebody play taps.
The tree was a 75 foot white oak growing on the west side of the house, kind of in the middle of the lawn between the house and the woods on the edge of our property.
I don’t have pictures of it, because it was not really part of any of the stuff we changed or even part of our decision to buy this property… but you can see it here:
The green one.
The tall, green, 81 year old white oak.
WHOOPS! Not so fast, there pardner…
What’s that you say? What happened to the tree, you ask?
Really good questions. I used them to play “Stump the Tree Surgeon”.
On a recent Monday, I was enjoying an evening on the deck with a glass of wine and my spy-noculars, when a flash of brown passed through my peripheral vision.
Lo and behold, the entire bottom half of the white oak was brown and shedding its leaves.
“Hrmm.” says I “That’s probably not a good sign.”
Thursday, I again examined said tree. Top half dead too.
In four days.
After 81 years of watching the land, then the lake, then the house, the biggest tree on our little acre of heaven said ‘Enough!’ and croaked.
So I called the tree surgeon. He looked at it. Thumped it. Scratched it. Then quoted me a price to bring it down.
“It happens.” was the diagnosis.
This is a huge tree. Sitting 15 feet from my house and towering over it. Shall we wait and see if it leafs out next spring while waiting to see if it’s going to rot and fall on the house instead?
As much as we love white oaks, this one was, as the Munchkin Mayor said “…really most sincerely dead”, and although it provided some nice shade for the bedroom wall and the open section of the deck, it sat on a slope, dropped acorns everywhere and kept the whole west side of the yard from growing any grass for 40 feet up from the lake.
We are in favor of trees, but not troublesome ones, so… break out the chainsaws.
It took the guy two weeks to get to us, during which time the tree got deader and deader… sending oak leaves everywhere while the trees all around it merrily waved their green leafy branches at it.
Then the newest characters in my character rich environment arrived.
Four good old boys, three of whom had so much tobacco stuffed behind their lips they could hardly speak. Add to that some real down home southern accents and I felt like I was back in a foreign country smiling and nodding and trying to understand what the hell they were saying while doing a simultaneous translation.
Really nice guys. Fun and funny, but deadly serious about what they were doing. Everyone had a job and they were very methodical and professional. Make no mistake – Bubba (or Larry, in this case) knows what he’s doing.
So they chuck some rope up to the very top with a cool weighted ball thingie and the littlest guy (wearing those cool boots with the spike in the side) starts belaying himself up the tree, whacking off branches as he goes.
Now play Where’s Bubba with this picture… (I swear there is a guy in the shot)
…and the guy still in the tree, branches all lopped off…
So I’m talking to Larry (the tree doc), telling him that wearing the spiky boots and hauling up to the tree tops is every kid’s career goal at some time and he says “Yeah, except it’s not that fun.” I expressed surprise and said, “Well at least he gets a great view.”
Cue the Bubba snorts all around.
Turns out the guy up the tree doesn’t like heights. From 65 feet up he says, “I don’t look down, I just concentrate on what’s in front of me. I don’t like it up here.”
And that, my friends, is what’s called Job Irony.
Anyhoo, he finally sawed his way out of the branches and administered the coup de grace…
…then he started working his way back down taking chunks of tree with him.
Every time he shoved a new log overboard it hit the ground with a huge thud and shook the deck I was standing on. So, not riddled with beetles or termites. That tree was solid. And heavy.
All that was left now was to grind the stump.
I look up the driveway and a guy is walking down the hill with a big orange stump grinder following him. The man has a remote control stump grinder! Big toys for big boys. Big expensive toys.
Do you see him standing there holding his remote? Now you know, when he found this thing in the Lumberjack Quarterly his eyes lit up like Christmas. I hadn’t seen this guy all day – he just showed up when it was time to grind and disappeared once the deed was done. Nice gig.
And finally, after everyone worked to haul off the logs, rake the leaves and spread the sawdust for mulch, this is what it all looks like now…
It was a terrifically hot day… the hottest of the summer to that point – over 100 degrees of ‘feels like’ temperature with air you could wring out like a sponge and those guys were suffering. I was standing in the shade taking pictures and still sweating like crazy, so I can’t imagine how hard it was for them to lift branches and logs while covered in itchy sawdust that stuck to them like it was glued on.
They usually quit at 5. When they finished at my house, they quit at 2. Good decision.
Four guys, four hours (plus the remote stump grinder guy who was having too much fun for work) and the world has one less giant white oak.
We shed a tear for our departed tree, but as always around here…