Oops, There Goes Another Piney Tree
November 23, 2010
Two winters ago, wind or lightning took down a substantial branch from high up a sixty-plus-foot pine tree beside this road that is used my me and a few associates.
The branch, which I subsequently cut up for firewood, fell toward the road, and it took with it a sizable gash of bark, which gash apparently killed the tree. Last winter the top section of trunk fell down, also toward the road.
I estimated that when the rest of the tree fell down, it would probably clear the power lines on the opposite side of the road, but, if it fell in the same direction as had the branch and the top of the trunk, it would certainly block the road. (Later, I measured it, and indeed it was thirty-seven feet high, and the road is twenty-two feet away.)
Woodcutting is one of my favorite hobbies. The activity finds me doing carefree physical labor alone in the peace of nature; I like everything about it, ticks excepted. However, I had never taken down any tree of this size; it measured sixteen inches in diameter, not counting bark, at the point of my attack and, as I mentioned, thirty-seven feet high. This was a weighty hunk of wood. Also, there were other trees nearby, and I did not want to get killed like a great-uncle, who got pinned by tree that kicked back.
There are guys of my ken who do this sort of thing with ease, but I had very little idea of what I was doing, so it was high adventure for me. In fact, at first I thought that I should just notch the tree in such a way that, when nature took it down, it would fall away from the road. I cut out a slice last week.
It did not look to me, though, that it would fall away from the road, so I decided to cut it more, take the safe course, and pull it down with my car.
The half-inch rope broke with each of two attempts. I decided to take matters into my own hands literally.
It took more cutting, almost through the trunk, to get this pine to swing more. When the bucksaw starting binding a bit on my cut opposite the notch (which was on the side targeted for falling) I was concerned that the tree was about ready to come down the wrong way, and I knew that there was not a lot of verticality left in this pine's future. It was now a teetering weight of a couple of thousand pounds, and I had no experience on which to draw to know if I could pull off this deal. My hope was to rock it just right.
It made lovely sounds (which you heard if you had your sound on) as it started breaking, and, to my great delight, I pulled it down just where I wanted it.
Pine branches taken from a dead tree make the best kindling, and all the branches from this one are now in big paper bags (the kind used for leaf collection.)
On the fun scale, this tree was somewhere between a canoe on a windless summer day and a sixteen-inch trout. It was quite enjoyable.