I needed to remove a dead fir tree from our front yard that stood about 40 feet tall. My neighbor Mike up the street and I decided that we could take it down ourselves. We came upon this decision about two years ago and I’m sure that alcohol was being consumed at the time. What, pray tell, could be so difficult about cutting a tree down? We really didn’t procrastinate over these two years. I’d say it was more like pondering.
Sunday night Michelle and I were walking our dog when we came upon Mike and his wife doing the same. The dogs started playing with each other and since we met in front of our house Mike and I started to ponder some more about the tree. Suddenly we pondered no more and decided to go into action. It was about 6:00 PM and Mike went to get his chain saw, some rope, and some logging clothes. I got some ladders, some rope and Riley my 18 year old son.
The news traveled quickly and soon neighborhood boys were hanging around asking questions and wondering if they could watch. The women of the neighborhood gathered on a far curb with a bottle of wine to watch the event. It seemed they somehow expected to see some sort of show from Mike and I. We are in fact practically expert woodsmen with Mike having some limited success in his back yard cutting a tree before. I too was experienced as I used to chop down trees with my shotgun when I got bored hunting grouse as a teenager. Just because Mike spends most of his time flying Boeing 737’s and I spend most of my time working with customers who manufacture products here in America doesn’t mean we were out of our league.
First order of business was safety! We tied a rope around the tree and walked it up about 25 feet. The tree was located between two other larger trees so we tied a rope between the large trees as a safety to stop the tree from falling onto our house if it were to somehow fall the wrong way. We tied another rope around the tree up at 25 feet and tied it off to a nearby tree to put some tension in the direction we wanted it to fall. I spliced several ropes together for the main pull rope. This rope stretched across our yard, the road, and into our neighbors’ driveway next to their garage.
Time to make some sawdust! I got the kids that had gathered to move into a safe zone. The women moved a bit further away as well and talk started about life insurance policies. Mike dawned his earplugs, safety glasses, and fired up the chainsaw. Mike likes to leave a tall stump so you have something to hook a car to so you can pull it out of the ground. So instead of juggling the chain saw he put a stepladder next to the tree and climbed up so he could leave about a six-foot stump. I was in position across the street hanging on to the rope and applying tension in the direction we wanted it to fall. Riley was standing by on alert. Mike made the first two cuts creating the wedge on the side we wanted the tree to fall. He then moved the ladder and started the final cut. As Mike cut I could hear the saw suddenly bind up so I gave the rope more tension and he finished the cut as the tree leaned. The bottom of the tree jumped out about six feet from the stump landing in my yard. We didn’t expect that and it caused some problems for me very quickly. Since the cut end of the tree leaped out six feet the top of the tree was now leaning toward my house. Good thing we put that safety rope up! As the tree drug my skinny butt across the driveway it started leaning over toward our next door neighbors house. Riley grabbed the safety rope that we had attached to the tree and started pulling the tree back up straight. As soon as he started pulling I was able to gain ground and start moving the tree back in the direction we wanted it to go. As soon as Riley let go the tree started dragging me back toward the house with the tree headed toward our roof. I yelled for Riley to come help me with the rope and he ran over as I was being dragged about four feet. As soon as Riley got a grip on the rope and started pulling the tree started to tip in the direction we had planned. A couple more back steps and we fell that tree exactly where we intended it to go!
Mike, Riley, and I all gave each other high fives and the kids that were so good about staying away were climbing on the log. We finished cutting the tree into firewood and hauled it to Mikes house for his fireplace. Michelle joined in on the cleanup and soon we were done! I wonder what Mike and I will ponder next?
I’ve gained most of the feeling back in my left little finger so other than that I’d say the job went without a hitch!
I’m running Cle Elum Ridge 50K this weekend. Hopefully I won’t need to do any logging while I’m on the trail. I wouldn’t want to endanger my fellow runners.