You might remember that I belatedly discovered a beautiful Japanese maple tree in my new yard. (Pictures in this post.) It announced itself by keeping its leaves past the time the others lost theirs, and turning a brilliant scarlet-orange. (I have a dwarf Japanese maple too. Amusingly, I learned that they dump all their leaves at once: one day they're all still on the tree, the next day, wham, they're all on the ground.)
The Japanese maple was not getting much sun from the East and South thanks to the ridge and several larger trees hulking over it. The little tree's branches had spread out yearningly to the West, as if trying to reach for the only sunlight it could find.
The biggest problem was a stand of large trees right next to it—two big unhealthy ones whose trunks had crossed, one ash and the other cherry, and a smaller healthy one a few feet away whose branches had interposed into the branches of the maple like an arboreal Venn diagram. With all that canopy cover nearby, the little tree was strangled for sunlight.
I had in mind opening things up for the Japanese maple to help it thrive. But it looked to me like it would be a tough task to remove the big trees I didn't want without damaging the little one I wanted to keep. I couldn't quite see how it could be done. But maybe somebody could do it.
I was walking Butters when a local arborist, Fisher's Tree Service, was removing a large trunk-log from a culvert down the road, so I stopped and asked them how much it would be to remove my trees. They quoted me a great price, as long as I could be patient and wait till they had their main equipment in the area working on a bigger job. That was several weeks ago. I was supposed to call their office and set it up, but I neglected to.
Three guys showed up anyway, this past Thursday morning. The day was so heavily overcast it was half-dark at mid-morning, not the best light for taking pictures. But of course I did anyway.
And they did indeed bring some serious equipment. They had what looked like an elongated dump truck with a claw crane, and a chipper truck, and an enormous hydraulic articulated arm mounted on a truck—I didn't confirm this, but my Internet digging identified it as a Posi+ 70' stacked-boom man-lift, a type of boom truck. You can get a good view of half of the arm in the top picture. (It's foreshortened in the picture below.) It could get way up. Not a job for anyone who's scared of heights.
Note the holes in the trunk of the tree. Those look like condominiums for
somebody—did we leave some critters homeless with this operation?
It's always a pleasure to watch skilled workers work. This was clearly a routine job for this crew, and they set about their work methodically and almost silently, working cooperatively as a team and communicating, if they needed to, with nothing more than brief hand gestures. They had the process down pat. The guy in the crane would let a thousand-pound log fall into the air and just give it a flip with his elbow on its way past him so it landed in the right place on the ground. Other trunk sections they lowered to the ground using ropes. These guys are so good they probably don't even realize how good they are. Amazingly, they were working in close proximity to a rhododendron on the ground as well as the Japanese maple, both of which we wanted to keep, and they hardly touched either one. All that heavy wood raining on to the ground and the only casualty was one branch of the rhododendron. They plucked out those giant trees from in between the two smaller, fragile plants like it was the easiest thing in the world.
They patiently removed the trees from the top down. There was none of that classic "timberrrr!" cut-from-the-bottom-and-let-'er-fall-over stuff. This was as close as we got to that:
In the first picture they're keeping pressure on the last section of trunk using a rope from the claw so that it won't fall on the rhododendron. The boss looks on with interest from the bucket of the aerial lift. In the second picture, over she goes...
...And then into the truck with the claw to be carted away.
Here's the crew that did my work: George Fisher, Jason Tietjen, and Eric Fisher, of Fisher Tree Service, Bluff Point, New York, 315/536-2743. They do very good work. Note the damage in the trees revealed by the chainsaw cuts.
Butters rockets past the three new stumps at full speed.
Come Spring, the Japanese maple (foreground) is going to find conditions in the neighborhood much improved.
(Thanks to Mrs. Fisher for the names for the caption)
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Featured Comments from:
Mark Jennings: "Hello Mike, Those big holes could be pileated woodpecker work that has been shaped by weather, rot, and squirrels or raccoons. Insects, birds, squirrels, raccoons and even black bears will use big hollow trees. Black bears, of course, need a bigger entrance, but sometimes they can be found asleep quite high up in old snags. In any case, in the woods hollow trees are a big deal for many species. In the yard they can be a nuisance or a hazard. I understand your aesthetic and practical concerns.
"The arborists' picture reminds me of old logging crew photos from the early 1900s. I live in timbering eastern WV. It also reminds me that often the best stories are found close to home. They tend to be heartfelt."
Yvonne: "Over the years, we've spent a small fortune on tree work. I love watching experienced arborists—they are amazingly skilled and adept at climbing trees too. As we walk around our older suburban neighborhood, I see countless trees that could use the services of a good arborist, but sadly few people want to spend their money that way."