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I’m Baaaa-aaack!

One Small Section of Debris

Alert the Media!  I’m back!  Mostly. 

Yeah, I know I’ve been gone nine days, and believe me, I have missed this blog more than you could imagine!  If I tried to tell you everything that has conspired against me to keep me from posting here, you probably wouldn’t believe it.  Suffice it to say, we have been inundated with problems around this place, and Mark’s five-day Thanksgiving vacation turned into five days of toil and trouble for both of us.  But we have survived, and even though the end isn’t here yet, it IS in sight.

Just as a quick recap of part of the problems, we had a huge tree die overnight, practically, and that started it all.  Our yard is filled with giant laurel oaks, old and majestic…and apparently dying of Sudden Oak Death.  Yes, folks, there really is something known among arborists as SOD.  After a long summer and early fall filled with unplanned for expenses such as transmissions falling apart, and flywheels literally breaking into pieces (both cars involved), we found we were down $7,000, and had tightened our belt to the max.  Thus, we were faced with a serious problem when the largest oak in our yard turned brown over the course of about 3 days.  From lush green, to completely dead brown, on a tree species that is evergreen.  Within weeks, it was brittle and dropping branches on our roof.  It had to come down.  Sadly, we couldn’t afford our regular tree guy, so we went with a cheaper solution that involved what turned out to be a less than professional company cutting down both of our biggest trees (since a second one was dying, too) and a smaller tree.  They were supposed to do it all in one day, leaving us the logs, but clearing away all debris and the first 10 feet of the massive (we’re talking over 4′ across) base of the tree.  Five days later, these awful people have buried our yard under debris, logs too big to move, and piles of sawdust 3′ deep.  Then they got mad because yet another piece of THEIR equipment stopped working, and they walked off…leaving our entire yard looking like the picture above, which is only a fraction of the mess we have to deal with.  (The side yard has 3 times the wood and debris in it.  This pile merely blocks the driveway!)  I didn’t take a picture of the biggest slabs, but the one on the top of the pile in the photo is right at 4 feet in itself, and it is nowhere near the biggest one.

You cannot imagine the mess we have been left with, and working every day right along side of them (and now on our own) has barely made a dent in it.  I finally got them back over here to cut the massive segments into smaller pieces that Mark can handle with his own chain saw, and the rest of the clean up is on us. 

Soooooooo…many lessons learned here, the biggest one being, one cannot keep up an active blog…or any other form of an active LIFE…whilst one is stuffing barrels full of tree trimmings from a pile approximately the size of an airplane hangar, and dollying logs to the back 40 to stack out of the way.  The sound of chain saws is burned into my brain, and the smell of oak sawdust will probably never be out of my nostrils.  GAH!!!!

On the other hand, I no longer have to worry about a tree falling through my roof.  Or at least not THIS tree.  There are still all the others around the yard……………..

Now back to blogging on a daily basis.  I hopeBut first, I have to tend to a small fire ring wherein I’m burning that airplane hangar sized pile of twigs, one little handful at a time.

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8 thoughts on “I’m Baaaa-aaack!

  1. Sad to hear about the trees! Good thing you got them before it got your house! Four feet across, sounds like it was an old oak. Anyway you can chop it up and sell it for firewood and reclaim some of that money back? When my grandfather was alive and before he was bound to a wheelchair that’s what my grandparents did as a means to make extra cash; chop up fallen trees and sell ricks of firewood for $75. People use to call them all the time to come chop up their fallen trees. Then they had repeat customers, the BBQ place down the street was one who would always buy all the hickory firewood my grandparents would get.


  2. We have a fireplace, so most of it will go on our log racks in the back yard (8′ tall, 10′ long, each). BUT, the problem is that they left about 10 feet of base trunk from two of the massive trees. I just measured one section of a “Y” shaped piece where the tree branched into two directions and it is over 5′ wide! Mark’s 18″ chain saw can’t handle that. They were supposed to haul those bases away, leaving logs about 2′ in diameter only. Then they said they weren’t going to haul it away, after all, but would saw it into chunks Mark could work with. Then they had trouble with a saw, got mad and left. I was relentless, though, and they came back yesterday and cut the biggest pieces into things that he can slowly work his way through, one slice at a time. But it is going to take several weeks for us to handle it.

    It was a miracle to find someone who could take the tree down for a price we could afford, so I’m trying to be grateful for that. But as I have often said, miracles don’t come cheap.

    The pile of brush they left was 8′ tall, 10′ deep, and over 30′ long!!! I wasn’t kidding about airplane hangars. We cut and lopped some of it into short sections and filled ten huge containers yesterday, and still have several days’ worth of work left on that. And yard waste only gets picked up once a week. I tried burning it in the fire ring this morning, but it is so slow that after 3 hours, I had only done about 2 containers worth. Plus, I got burned by popping sparks, and have spent over an hour dowsing the ashes and trying to be sure the dang fire is out. Not going to do any more of THAT, I can tell you.

    Oh, well. Sometimes, you’ve just got to plow through these challenges, so you can laugh at them a year later. If you live.


  3. So sad to lose the trees, but even worse to deal with shady workers. Golly, what a mess. I bet you are exhausted from it all.


  4. I really am, Alice. I told one of those bozos that I was too old for this kind of work. I’ll be 70 in just over a year. Sometimes I can’t believe that, but it’s true, and here I am dragging logs all over the place, and trying to cut up a mountain of debris. Geesh. But we’ll get it done, steenkin’ ol’ disreputable contractors or not. (And to think one of the reasons he gave me a lower price was because he wanted me to recommend him to everyone in our neighborhood…like THAT’S gonna happen!) He left saying tree work was too hard and he was quitting. Ha. I guess he thought he’d collect the money, knock the tree down and walk away without breaking a sweat.

    Luckily, none of my other trees are hanging over the house, so I can afford to wait on them, when their time comes, until I can pay the GOOD people. And yes, I cried when the trees came down. They were so beautiful and one of the main reasons we bought this house. So I’m still venting over the whole thing, as you can tell.


  5. Oh, my, I am so sorry to hear this. How sad to loose the trees, but then to compound it all with those miserable workers!!! I hope their price was REALLY cheap, (it sounds like they shouldn’t get paid at all). We lost one tree (fell on our neighbor’s house, yikes) in Sandy, and another has to go. But the expense is almost prohibitive! Every time I look at it (I’m afraid it is going to fall on our house) I want it GONE, but the $$$$ discourages me. After your experience, however, I will be careful hunting for the tree-doers. 🙂 I love love love trees, and to lose them is so sad. I am so sorry that you had this sudden death. (and all the work!)


  6. I feel the same way, SC. Trees are kind of mystical to me, having been standing in that spot for so many years. Laurel oaks don’t live nearly as long as some, though.
    These are probably between 40 and 60 years old, and at the end of their lives, making them susceptible to borer beetles and other problems. When Sudden Oak Death hits, they die practically overnight, and the wood becomes brittle in a matter of weeks, and limbs begin to fall. We had no choice but to find someone who could climb up in the trees and cut them down, but our budget was completely gone from a summer of other mishaps and small disasters, $1,000 to $2,000 at a time. The quotes for these two trees ranged from $3,000 to $3,500 and we just didn’t have it to spare. But leaving the biggest one looming over the house was not an option, so we cut a deal with these people, knowing we would be doing part of the work, ourselves. However, we didn’t write down every single aspect that they were going to be responsible for (my fault), so when push came to shove, we only had so much we could say about it. Lessons learned the hard way, as they say.

    I hope you have good luck finding someone who can do the work for you reasonably and do it RIGHT. It’s hard enough to say goodbye to the trees, but as you say, to have troubles with the removal service was just SO unpleasant. And we are just hoping our neighbors will be patient with us as we finish cleaning it all up ourselves. Thanks for commiserating with me. It helps!! And good luck with yours!


  7. YOW! I’d never heard of SOD. Scary. When i lived in IL, we had an oak in our yard get struck by lightning. I heard it crack and begin to fall — and watched it fall towards the house. The top of the tree missed our house by about 5 feet. Whew.


  8. Oh, boy! That must have been horrifying!! So glad it missed. Yeah, SOD is very interesting, and still not understood. But I think most experts believe it usually happens to trees that are stressed for various reasons. Ours were old. And we, too, had a lighting strike that had damaged a lot of stuff in our yard in July. We thought the tree had been killed outright by that, but there’s no way to prove it, especially once the borer beetles moved in. We also had a year long severe drought in 2011, and not one drop of rain fell on our property for over nine months. That’s a lot of stress right there. So add the drought, the age of the trees, and possible lightning damage, and then beetles and fungus move in and provide the coup de gras, and voila. Dead tree, seemingly overnight.


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