Today, I did some lumber jacking in the back yard. Along the north side of my yard, in the section farthest from the house, I have several pine trees. These trees were so big when I moved into this house that they made the back yard look small. My remedy, 13 years ago, was to cut the trees back and trim them such that the lowest branch was higher than 6 feet. That way, I could walk under them. I could plant grass under them. I could use my whole back yard.
Fast forward 10+ years. The trees are not doing well. I don’t know if I trimmed back too much or too much at one time or what. But, of the 6 trees that were there, only one is still alive and it only has green at the top 15 feet or so. One of the trees fell in a wind storm last summer. Lucky for me, it fell into my yard instead of the neighbor’s yard.
This summer, I noticed that one of the remaining trees was leaning. It had rotted out at the bottom and it was leaning in the direction of: 1) The neighbor’s yard, 2) The neighbor’s garage, 3) Power lines, 4) a fence that I own, but would rather not replace this summer.
Since the tree was rotten at the bottom, I figured I could just use a come-along (hand operated ratcheting winch) to pull the tree in the direction of my yard. I as I looked closer at the tree, I realized that the top 5 feet or so was going to be impeded in my attempt to get it to fall into my yard by a branch from the Black Walnut tree that dominates my back yard. No big deal, right? I will just pull the tree toward my yard and the top part will snap off as it gets pulled. Before I could do that, though, I had some prep work to do.
There was an old phone line that ran from the pole at the back corner of the yard (where the trees are) to the house. I had to remove that. Since I was removing that line, I decided to remove the old phone box from the side of the house, too.
I attempted several different ways of getting this darn tree to fall into my yard. First I pulled it away from the direction that it was leaning. Once I got it leaning toward my yard, I used some old 4X4 posts to prop the tree and make sure it wasn’t going to fall back to where it had been while I adjusted the rope and come along. I had to do quite a bit of work to get the tree to snap and fall. When it did finally break, it didn’t break near the top where it was touching the branch. Instead, it snapped almost 15 feet below that. When it did fall, it made a tremendous and marvelous noise. The neighbors behind my house, who were outside playing with their kids, yelled, “That was awesome!”
The lady of the house said, “It’s a good thing that you can run fast.” – thinking that I was in danger because I was using the come along to pull the tree toward me. I assured them that I had measured it out and that I was safe. They didn’t believe me. So, I picked up what was the top of
the tree and carried it over and placed it where it would have been had the tree fallen in one piece. Vindicated. I had used the method described in the Boy Scout Handbook to determine how far away I’d need to be