In Limbo

An alternate title could be Over Our Heads.  Yesterday, we were playing in the trees.  Cutting one down.  Specifically the biggest tree on our property, the locust seen below.

In a way, we’re sad to see if go.  We’re fans of trees, having planted 18 at our first house.  Before you start hating me for cutting down a mature tree, listen to the reasons.  One, the tree is too close to the house; about 10 feet.  Two, this tree is big, and hasn’t reached full size.  And three, the tree’s roots are too high up, so excavating would have killed the tree.  Because the tree is so close to the house and we can’t get a lift up there, it was a bit tricky to cut down.  Having a lift would mean starting from the top, cutting small pieces off at a time.  Ben has cut down about 20 large trees at the apartment complex he works for without any problems.  This smaller (compared to the large cottonwood trees at his work) should be easy enough.

The boys and I watched from the house as Ben notched out the first limb, tied a rope to it, and cut through while Handy Sammy pulled to make sure it landed safely.

Easy and worked like a charm.  But that was the first branch.  The one furthest away from the house.  See that large center branch?  It is a beast.  The guys assumed it would be easy because the first one went so well.  Following the same process, they started working on the biggest branch.  And then it got complicated.  The branch was heavy and naturally wanted to fall toward the house, despite the notch Ben cut.  In fact, it started pinching the chain saw.  Luckily, Ben’s tree cutting experience warned him this could get ugly.  So he stopped cutting and left the chain saw in place, effectively preventing the branch from falling on the house.

Any time Ben’s working on something like this, I’m a nervous, anxious mess.  First and foremost, I’m concerned for his safety.  This time I worried about the house, too.  Not knowing exactly what was going on, I asked if I could help.  Ben yelled at told me to get more rope.  That’s when I knew this was serious and wasn’t going as planned.  Kind of how you know a three a.m. call isn’t going to be good news.  And I thought we were in over our heads.

I found tow straps in the truck.  Sam and I looped the straps around our bodies, pulling on the limb with all our weight.  Ben tied the saw to another branch (so it wouldn’t fall to the ground or on him) and pushed the branch while praying for it to fall the right way.  After several extremely tense (both physically and mentally) minutes, we got the branch down, safely in the yard.  Whew, what a moment of relief.  I may have gotten misty eyed knowing everything was okay.  Of course I have no pictures of this, but you can see that branch on the ground in the picture below.

The last two limbs went just as smoothly as the first.  And then time for clean up.  Ben cut the limbs in manageable, fire-place sized pieces.  Can I add he looked mighty fine while doing so?  Because he did, safety glasses and all.

Smaller branches are in the yard waste bin, ready for pick up.

Between cutting the tree, Ben was loading more dirt for Craigslisters to haul away.  Two birds, one stone.  We’ve still got the stump to deal with.  The plan is to dig out a little more around the base using the bobcat, then pull on it to hopefully get the majority of the roots.

So that’s our (not so) little tree cutting adventure.  Definitely stressful, but we’re glad to be done.

How was your weekend?  What did you do?  Have you cut down a tree?  Did it go smoothly?  Or with a little bump in the road?

15 thoughts on “In Limbo

  1. You guys are brave!
    We had two huge trees professionally cut down that would have crushed our house if they were to fall. I purposely left the house for the day because I knew I would be a nervous wreck watching the process!
    Unrelated – is that a gutter dropping down the corner of your roof? I think I have only seen them hugged up against the side of the house so seeing this one kind of floating there made me wonder. 🙂

    1. Hey Lizzy,

      If I could have left, I would have. Luckily I didn’t because both Ben and Sam needed to stay at the tree while I got more rope.

      Yes, that is a gutter. Ben pulled off the supports when he took off the siding, so it’s just floating right now. We’re a little redneck lately.


  2. Wow, that would be scary to see! Luckily Ben and Handy Sammy have a lot of talent and smarts between them (no offense to you :)), so they were able complete the job safely.
    We FINALLY measured the lower level for a bedroom and a bathroom, and we shopped for lumber at Menards (yay for sales!) so we can get started on that little project. You know, cuz we’re kind of under the gun now. 😉 Yay!

    1. Hey Heather!

      Totally nerve wracking, right?!? We’re glad everything was okay, too.


  3. Did you say locust? Let me tell a precautionary tale. We lost half a locust in a late summer storm and paid professionals to remove the rest and grind the stump. What we didn’t know was that the shallow and prolific root system lived on. The following spring locust shoots poked through the ground. Hundreds and hundreds of them. We could mow them down, but they kept on coming and spreading. Googling around got me a solution, but we had to let those sprouts grow for about a month in late summer, early fall then treat each one with triclopyr by hand (it doesn’t kill the grass, but any spray on bushes, trees etc. will kill those). Then we watched a slow death of the sprouts. By Halloween I was ready to sell tickets to our “haunted forest.” Apparently, if we had treated the stump right away (when it was fresh the first fall) we could have avoided the following spring and summer locust invasion. This is the website i found most helpful:

    1. Hi Pamela!

      Thanks for the info! At our first house, our neighbors had a Locust tree and we continually mowed down the little off shoots. That’s one of the reasons we’re hoping to pull the whole stump out, to get the roots, too. I’ll remember your link if it comes to that. 🙂


  4. Trees are very valuable, but sometimes they HAVE to go! Glad it all worked out for you guys (that no one got hurt, and that your house is still in one piece)

  5. Watched the guys my neighbor hired take down a tree last year and let the largest limb fall on the corner of the newly replaced roof. Made a huge visible dent in the structure, but no one was hurt. Worst part was that they left the limb resting on the roof and still insisted on being paid (which they were not).

    1. Hey Megan E!

      Seriously?!? If that happened to me, not only would I not pay them, but I’d insist on having my roof fixed. Luckily no one was hurt!


  6. The story of the straps reminds me of helping my dad take down limbs and trees when I was younger. We lived on a farm, so my sister and I were raised to help out with all kinds of tasks. One time my dad was trying to cut a limb to prevent it falling on our house. He attached a rope to the limb and had my mom and I (I was about 12, I think) hold onto the rope to guide it a little in the right direction. Only my dad, unlike the usual cautious person he usually is, forgot to tell us to let go once it started to fall. All of a sudden I was flying through the air before I landed hard and got knocked out for a minute. I had a humdinger of a headache the rest of the day – and I still can’t tilt my head to the side without feeling a pull on one side – but I gained a newfound respect for lumberjacks and arborists!

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