I promised earlier in the week that I would tell you more about our adventure taking down the leaning, dying tree near the entrance at Roundrock. You see it above. Of the twin trunks, it is the one on the right. (The debris on the ground is part of the former top of the culprit tree.) On the extreme right of the photo you can see the two posts holding up the fencing around the maple I planted. It’s hard to judge, I know, but if the tree fell in that direction (unlikely), it could strike the maple, so I wanted to be sure I didn’t bring it down that way.
The only sensible way left was to bring it down across the road — the direction it was leaning. The area was open and allowed for plenty of scrambling about, and though I suspected it would reach as far as the road, I was confident that Seth and I could clean it up enuf to allow the truck to pass through.
We began by cleaning out that fallen top. We needed a clear workspace, of course, so we chopped it into pieces and carried them to a nearby brush pile. Simple.
Then Seth began cutting the wedge into the trunk of the tree. Remember that the big chainsaw was not working, so he was using the pole saw with the much shorter bar. This wasn’t so bad; it merely meant a series of smaller cuts. Given the lean of the tree and the fact that it was dying so we didn’t know the strength of the wood in the trunk, he made a few small cuts and then stepped back to assess. Then he would step in and cut again.
Actually, I thought his cuts were a little less ambitious than they could have been, so after a while, he gave me the pole saw and I stepped in. I started a new wedge cut a little higher on the tree that would result in a bigger chunk coming out. Then it would be a simple matter of making the back cut and watching the tree fall. My plan was to let Seth make that back cut while I filmed the tree falling in the forest (with audio).
Alas, as I was finishing the downward cut of the wedge, I heard the tell-tale snapping sound coming from the trunk. I withdrew the saw and stepped back in time to watch the tree break free of its remaining trunk and come crashing to the ground. (And that’s why I don’t have any video of it for you.)
Above you see just how the tree fell. Again it’s hard to tell, but the tree did span the road, the top breaking off when it struck. You see the Prolechariot parked safely on the far side of the tree. (The idea was that if we got the tree this far and then somehow could not clean it up, the truck would already be on the homeward-bound side of it so we could still get out.)
Seth began cutting up the fallen tree while I carried the branches to the brush pile. The saw was tearing through the wood easily, and soon he was finished with that work and helping me carry the bits and pieces away. One time he grabbed a length that was longer than he was tall. It had a few errant branches still attached, so it was hard to balance. He lost his grip on it, and the largish bit of trunk found my shoulder on its way to the ground. I shook it off and got back to work, and now, a week later, I can hardly feel the pain of it at all.
We spent more time cleaning up the branches than we did cutting down the tree. Seth cut a few lengths of the trunk as firewood. We stacked these neatly at the entrance so the interlopers would see that we’d been by. Here is a picture of the cut base of the tree.
You can see that we’d only cut through about a half of the tree before it snapped. The wood was soft, and as we carried the chunks of the tree to the brush pile or the cut wood pile, they seemed a lot lighter than I would have thought for an oak. Clearly the tree was rotten, and I have little doubt that it would have fallen on its own this winter. I’m glad we took the chance to bring it down under controlled conditions . . . hmmm. I’m just thinking now that if Libby and I had cut down this tree, just inside the entrance to our land, on the day before deer season when we were there, it would have blocked access to the interlopers. That might have been an interesting gambit to play with them. I’ll have to remember that next year.
- Bald eagles arriving in northern Missouri; view them at Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge.
Today in Missouri history:
- Proletarian novelist Jack Conroy was born in a coal mining camp near Moberly, Missouri on this date in 1898. His best known work is The Disinherited.
- Phoebe Couzins died in poverty in St. Louis on this date in 1913. She began her varied career as a hospital nurse during the Civil War and later, as an advocate for womenâ€™s suffrage, the nationâ€™s first female lawyer, the nationâ€™s first female U.S. Marshall, and a renown speaker on the issues of womenâ€™s rights and temperance. Oddly, she ended her career as a lobbyist for the United Brewers Association.