Garden Diary - April 2010

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Friday, 2 April 2010
Geometry of Cutting A Tree

Paul is well versed in cutting down trees. We heat in part with wood and it takes about 3 cords each winter to fuel the Vermont Casting stove. By preference he cuts standing dead trees, and there are sufficient on our property to supply each winter's needs. Rarely, there's something that needs a professional's attention. This Spring has been very wet. And windy. Even before they leaf out trees offer resistance to the pressure.

This ash didn't make it. It didn't come down. Partially uprooted, it hung up in a smaller maple.

See the leaning tree. It is about 75 feet tall, and it leans over the Forest Deck. What's more, the site slopes. Trees such as this are called widow makers.

It is a tough situation. It isn't possible to get a bucket truck to the tree. Cannot get a truck close enough to use a snatch block. Called C & M Tree Service in Baptistown New Jersey. Mike came and took a look, didn't have an answer. Said he'd think about it. Called back. Still no answer but he'd come by with Tommy, his climber, and see what he thought. Tommy said it could be done. And today, the ash was taken down, safely.

Tommy and three other men arrived as scheduled at 8:00 a.m. and started carrying gear from the driveway into the woods. Bull rope and come-along, first of several. Jonsered chain saw.


A few tries and Tommy got a weight at the end of a messenger line over the crotch high in the tree. Tied on a bull rope and pulled it up. Made a tidy running bowline to snug the rope tight to the branch.

Next, he selected a couple of big trees, larger than the ash. Chain or bull rope several times around at the base, with come-along to tension the bull ropes up in the ash. They're going to get the ash back upright.


Two come-alongs, and a strap to the truck off in the driveway.
The tension will be so powerful that a length of wood is placed
into the knot to keep it from tightening so hard it can't be undone.


First cut.

Coming down.

Down. Better than two tons of wood, Paul estimates. Wood floats in water so figure 55 to 60 pounds per cubic foot. At 75 feet tall, that's 4,500 pounds. Ash is splendid firewood, green or dry. In one sense, this firewood is costly. In every sense that matters, it's not. Everyone is safe, the tree is down, and the Forest Deck is intact. Tommy even dropped the tree uphill. Paul will have an easier time bucking it.

Great job, Tommy! Minutes to cut it down after hours to rope it, and
36 years of experience to get it done right. Impressive, to say the least.

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