One of these really good friends owns a chainsaw and drove an hour to come and cut up some trees I had cut down with my hacksaw and to then cut down a tree that was too big for me and my sorry little hacksaw. It was a weeping willow tree (I know, I know…people love those). Well, it was weeping a little too much toward my house and I didn’t want to risk it eventually balling its eyes out, leaning on my roof. Thus, my friend David and his trusty chainsaw.
David lives out in the country and is one of the coolest people I know. The guy’s got his own bulldozer. I’m not kidding. So, you can guess that he’s been cutting down trees for years. He knows how to cut a notch so that the tree falls where he wants it to. But alas, my weeping willow tree was leaning too far for such things.
So, I thought, “No problem. I’ll just throw a rope around the tree about 10-15 feet up, and just pull it away from the house while David cuts the trunk.” Sounds reasonable, right?
I learned that I was essentially saying, “I can lift a tree.”
Not only that, but I didn’t have any rope. I did however have a really long orange extension cord. So, with extension cord high up around the tree, and me pulling hard, David started cutting. Things were going fine and he was even attempting the whole notch thing, in an effort to help it fall AWAY from the house. And with me pulling, well…what could go wrong?
One notch cut and things were looking fine. It was then that I realized that if my plan was in fact going to work, I was inviting a large tree to fall directly toward me. The buzz of the chainsaw on the second cut interrupted that trivial, silly thought.
But as David was midway through the second cut, the tree falling toward me would have been a welcome reality. With that cut, the tree’s weight had taken over and it had begun to fall DIRECTLY TOWARD the house. Remember when I thought I could use an extension cord to pull a tree away from my house?
David immediately saw what was happening, stopped the chainsaw, and pushed against the trunk of the tree, keeping it up and therefore keeping it from falling on the house.
And then we stared at each other. Me with my orange extension cord and he with his locked arms against the tree.
“Now what?!?” Indeed, a question asked countless times by men through the ages.
I saw my oldest son in the doorway of the house and I yelled, “Crews! Go get Mommy! Quick!”
In true superhero style, my wife appeared, joined me on the extension cord and together we were able to at least hold the tree there until David could join us. He wrapped the end of the extension cord around his waist and we did the ‘ol “1-2-3 PULL!” a half a dozen or so times until we finally realized that the tree was NOT coming back away from the house.
The compromise we negotiated with the tree was that we would allow the tree to stay on its current trajectory, BUT that it would allow us to lower it down in such a manner so as not to cause damage to the house. Turns out, it was a win-win.
What we didn’t mention to the tree was that as soon as we had lowered it down we were going to chop it into small pieces.
When dealing with an aged tree, hold your cards close to the vest.