August 14, 2008

How To Remove and Repurpose A Tree Into Benches

When we arrived at the farm, we found one of our century old oak trees split in half and lying in the back yard crushing one end of the clothes line. We looked at one another, knowing what the other was thinking, "Wow, that could have fallen on the house, the greenhouse or taken out the propane tank....". We were lucky - plain and simple.
We removed one half of the tree which took an entire afternoon and then it was time to tackle the remaining half still standing that was in danger of falling on the house, the greenhouse or taking out the propane tank. The odds were against us being lucky twice.

We had to control the fall of the tree and being the DIY'ers that we are..... My Dad suggested that we buy a 150 foot 3/4" nylon rope that we could tie around the tree and then connect it to the tractor to add tension to the rope directing the fall of the tree. Sounds dangerous, doesn't it? I'm sure it was. I grabbed my camera, moved out of range and could feel my heart beating in my chest. I was really worried that Dan being the chain saw guy, would get hurt by a splintering piece of trunk when the tree fell.

We joke that whenever anyone is doing something precarious by asking, "And how many miles to the hospital is it"? The answer: It's 30 miles.

So here's Ryan holding the ladder for his Dad as he climbs the tree to tie the rope around the trunk as high up as possible which was a struggle due to the girth of the tree - it was a process.

After Dan notches the tree on the front side by cutting out a V-notch he moved to the back side of the tree and began cutting the back side while my Dad began putting pressure on the rope with the tractor. Dad is in the far left hand side of this shot.

And after a few loud cracks, the tree crashes to the ground falling in the perfect spot, missing the house, the greenhouse, the propane tank and two other trees.

This is why the tree fell. Although the tree looked healthy from the outside wood ants were eating away at the inside of the tree. We found an entire colony of insects living inside the tree. Centipedes, wood ants, various bugs, spiders - lots and lots of buggies. The bottom 20 feet of the tree was completely hollow. The weight of the top half of the tree was just too much and the tree split in half and fell to the ground.

We poured used motor oil into the stump to kill the wood ants so that they wouldn't move to another healthy tree or worse - the house.

Ryan celebrating falling his first tree with his Dad and Grandpa. He complains about how boring it is in the country as city boys do, however I know that when he gets older these will be some of his fondest memories. That's the trick with kids - you have to trust the wisdom that comes with age and not listen to the complaining so that you can give your kids the joy of accomplishment that comes with hard work and the confidence that participating in something like removing a tree brings.

I love my parents most for instilling my work ethic when I was very young. I learned early to be capable, believe in myself, and take pride in a job well done. Mind you I complained along the way as all kids do - but I love them for not allowing me to quit.

We cut the limbs into firewood - our wood pile just keeps getting longer. We now have enough firewood for three seasons. When we got to the more difficult part of the cutting I had the idea to cut the remaining trunk into halves and make benches out of them.

Dan is such a good sport and has learned to trust me and my seemingly crazy ideas. After a couple of hours of trimming away, smoothing and removing the dead portion of the trunk we had the beginnings of a serviceable bench for the fire pit.

Moving the trunks was a little more difficult than we first thought - we used the tow strap Dan's father had given him when he was in his twenties to drag the log across the yard to the fire pit. It made him happy to use it again. His father passed away 14 years ago and using the strap makes him happy. He carries it in his car everyday just in case he has the chance to use it.
Ryan put the Mule to use to finesse the log into place for comfortable seating. He felt pretty grown up to take part in moving the log at fifteen years old.

We were driving hay trucks around the fields in the Winter feeding the cows when we were seven years old. Dad would put the truck in first gear and jump out, swinging up onto the back of the truck leaving an empty driver's seat. I remember the first time he did this with me telling to take the wheel as he left the seat and then he was gone. I sat for a long moment in disbelief and then scrambled across the seat getting on my knees so that I could see out the windshield. The steering wheel felt cold and huge in my hands - I had a moment of terror and then decided that I had better pay attention to what I was doing. My Dad was back there and I didn't want him to get hurt or worse disappoint him.

There was really no danger -we were in an open field, the cows were all behind the truck waiting for the hay to fall and I couldn't reach the gas or brake pedal. Dad used to feed cattle by himself this way as the old hay truck would move along the field in first gear by itself. He would just point the truck toward the open field and then swing out and up onto the back of the truck. We didn't know this at the time, so we felt pretty grown up and proud that Dad would trust to do something so important like drive a hay truck.

Once we got older, we would swing up onto the back of the truck and roll the bales off for the cows. The trick was pulling the strings off as you rolled the hay bale off the back so it would break apart for the cows when it hit the ground.

I lost a glove once when it got stuck between the bale of hay and the string. I had to jump off the truck, run to the bale retreive my glove and then run to catch up to the truck moving across the field. I had to jump and slide across the back on my stomach because the bed was to high to jump up on. My Dad thought this was pretty funny. He never slowed down to wait for me or stop so I could climb back up. I think he was curious to see what I would do.... Parent's have been delighting in their kids for a long time.

Ryan used the blower to remove the remaining sawdust and the benches were in place. They looked pretty good for a start. I need to do a little research on how to seal the wood to slow the deterioration rate of the wood. A nice cushion will make these logs a great place to gather this Fall when we sit around the firepit.

1 comment:

Southern Country Cottage said...

I just ran across your blog and really enjoy it and your website too! I'm sure I'll be shopping with you and reading your blogs often! We have had a couple of large trees fall around our place also and we are still cutting them up. But, after reading about your creative fire pit benches, I'm going to run out and stop my husband and his chainsaw and show him this! Thank you for a refreshing, creative blogsite to enjoy!