As I mentioned on Facebook, I spent all afternoon and part of the evening with a wood chip in my ear. Happily not in my ear canal, but just wedged somewhere in my outer ear. I only noticed when I had a late shower.
How did it get there? It happened in the process of doing a task I’ve never done before. I’m cutting down a tree!
Since I can remember, my dad has had a shade tree or two in the yard. They grow very quickly so before the current tree threatened to become too large, he would plant a replacement, and remove the adult when the child was large enough to start doing its duty. In this case, you can see the large tree I’m disassembling, the replacement behind it, and the kitchen window that it is positioned to shade. My father planted the replacement tree, but he didn’t live to remove the now too-large parent, so it’s fallen to me.
The tree is too sprawling to cut down at once. It could damage the house on one side, and the neighbour’s fence on the other. So my plan is to remove the three primary branches that split off the trunk, one at a time, and deal with the trunk in the spring.
I started with a hand saw, but even before I got a centimetre into the wood, it started to bind in the moist flesh of the tree. There is a small two-stroke chainsaw I could use, but I decided against it. Partly because I’m not certain it’s functional, and it would be a pain to get the gasoline, the oil, and the chain oil, only to find it doesn’t work. The main reason I decided against the chainsaw is because I couldn’t imagine trying to use it (also for the first time) while at the top of a ladder. I can handle only so many new things simultaneously, and I want to limit the cuts to the tree limbs, not mine! Instead, I hunted up an axe in the shed and got to work. As I said, I’ve ever cut down, or even de-branched, a tree, but I thought, “how hard can it be?” I know, famous last words, right?
Happily, not. I chopped into the tree from above and below, chipping out wood from both the direction in which I wanted the branch to fall, and the exact opposite side. The branch at the point I cut it was perhaps 12 centimetres in diameter. When I had 3–4 centimetres of wood left, the rope I’d tied to the branch a metre and a half above the cut allowed me to pull it down, in the right direction, with a minimum of fuss. A bit more hacking neatly separated the branch as you see above.
The exercise was an ideal proof of concept. Things will get more complicated as the remaining two branches both lean directly over the fence, and in nearly the opposite direction to where I want them to fall. Still, I do believe I should manage this project with a minimum of fuss.
One step at a time.