Sunday, April 11, 2010


Exercise is definitely something I don't get enough of, but I surprise myself sometimes anyways.

Couple weekends ago, on a sunday afternoon, I was sitting at the computer aimlessly surfing when I heard a light rumble, like something had landed on and rolled off the roof. I almost ignored it... but something bugged me about the tone, so I went out to check. I didn's see anything... but then realized that something was off.

Where there was a tree on the corner of the far end of the yard, was now a dripping ball of mud with some shattered wood sticking out of it. Yeah, that affects the skyline a bit, and the fence next to it too.

What the 'oddness' was ended up being a very ill but somehow still ever-green southern yellow pine, of about 2 or 2.5' diameter and probably 50 or 60 feet tall, with a horrible case of root rot, termites, and carpenter ants. It had decided, on a calm sunny day, to simply lean over across the side street next to my property and completely block it.

Well, dealing with it was a mild ordeal... the city cleared the road, but left me a nice 8' long stump hanging through my back privacy fence. I hired a pro tree service... because it wasn't so much chopping up the stump (only $75) but in looking around I decided it was high time to take care of some of the other tree items that held risk. I had them cable the silver maple that's close to the house in the back, trim a branch off the hackberry in the front that was far too close to the roof, and take a good look at another southern yellow pine that was no more than 6 feet from the one that fell and had the same 'symptoms' (those three, $600).

Long and short, it's deathly ill too, and is going to fall eventually like the first. But... it's part of the fenceline, where the other was inside, and it's lean has it mostly over the property line. $3500 was the pro estimate, but I can find less expensive cutters... if its even my problem to pay for.

After all that, still had a big 2' block of rotten wood leaning against a fence panel and tentatively still attached to the ground on one side. That one took some ingenuity... and is the reason I'm damnably sore right now. 200' of rope, a pulley, giant lag bolt for an anchor, couple-three quick links, and a 4000lb come-along made for a 5 hour long party.

Results? I turned two 100' poly ropes into two 120' poly ropes, burnt my hands up nicely, ruined a fresh edge on my hatchet chopping roots, and actually managed to rip the damn stump in half in the end. And there's still work to do, have to smack around the loosened up bits with a sledge maul and make smaller bits of 'em, dig some of the dirt out and try and level up the displaced fence panel, patch the broken part (tree fell slowly enough that it slowly ripped the panel out by the nails and only crushed 2-3 planks), chop roots, yada yada yada.

It would have been so much easier had I not skimped on the equipment. Instead of a single pulley (2:1 advantage) I ought to have gotten a couple of 2-3 pulley blocks and more rope, which would have given me ~8:1 or so advantage and would have let me just pull on the rope rather than hooking the cable puller to one rope, tying the tightened rope off, unhooking and unrolling the cable, tying a loop in the other rope, hook up the cable, crank it in, rise repeat... every cycle getting another 4' in the rope and stretch giving it away. Next time, steel cable all the way. I wasn't over the rope's weight limit (I think) but it was just that stretchy and killed all my effort.

I finished at 10:30... way too late to dig out the fence panel and right it. So the saga continues... the majesties and tragedies of home ownership.