Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

Oregon Hayes and the Tree Branch of Doom

After injecting Roof Fungus, Lisa decided that, this being the last full day I was going to be here for a while, we'd better try and do something about that massive tree branch that was hanging out toward the old house. She'd rather get a licensed and bonded tree outfit out here, but her father was more likely to hire in any good old boy with a truck and a chainsaw. Lisa points out that this might have been okay fifty or sixty years ago, but you can't trust these fly-by-night people today -- they either will wreck your house and run for it, or if they get hurt, they'll sue you for everything. So there was nothing for it but for Lisa to get kitted up with her work gear and climbing harness and try to safely bring the branch down on her own.

Here's the scene of the trouble. That huge redwood tree in the center of the photo looms over our trailer (lower center behind the church sign), the old family house, and the Mehama Community Church.

For an idea of the scale, note that the old family house is three floors high, including the full-height attic.

Here I am looking up into the tree from the narrow space between the trailer and the old house. Notice the ladder onto the roof of the trailer. Imagine Lisa having to climb up there at 3 AM in a howling gale to dislodge a branch poking its way through the pipe-and-plastic rain shelter.

Examining just how the large tree branch had lodged in the other branches, Lisa and I concluded that if she could drop a couple of the branches on which it was hanging, it would pivot on a sub-branch and fall away from the house, rather than onto it.

So Lisa donned her yellow safety harness and goggles and climbed up into the redwood tree, using a ladder to get to the lowest branches and then using the branches as a ladder to get above where the branches holding the Branch of Doom were located.

On the way up, she realized that a couple of the branches were cracked and needed to come down as well, so she sawed through them with that wicked-looking hand-saw. BTW, all of the work she did in that tree was with a hand saw -- no power tools.

While changing positions 15 meters up in the tree, she stopped and posed for this picture. She loosely draped one of the safety lines over the stub-end of the branch above her, but the other line was tied off above and behind her. Either one of the lines can carry her entire weight.

She then attacked another one of the branches holding up the troublemaker. After sawing away at it with a will, there was a sudden crack and bang as the branch gave way and fell on top of some of the remains of the lean-to rain shelter. This was where Lisa had set the ladder she used to get into the tree originally -- I removed the ladder before she went to work because we could see the chance of a tree branch falling on it.

To the left in this photo is a rope that was tied to a long-range radio antenna Lisa's father has attached to the tree and stretched clear across the property. (He uses it for 160m ham radio.) The rope is used to tension the antenna (basically a very long piece of wire running from a tower over to this tree).

The dangling tree branch -- shown here after Lisa had freed one of the branches that was supporting it -- was partially entangled in the antenna. We assumed that we'd end up breaking the antenna, but that was fixable. Lisa used the rope (you can see it to the left in this photo) to raise and lower tools from the ground, where I ran errands as needed.

A lot of smaller branches had to be dropped before the main one would fall. Now that's good in one way, because it means the danger wasn't quite as awful as it appeared at first, but it also meant a lot of sweating away on the hand saw for Lisa as she carefully picked where to cut. One branch in particular separated quite spectacularly. Lisa said, "It didn't hit me when the end sprung back, but I felt the wind of its passage."

Finally, Lisa cut loose the last supporting branch, and with a loud crash, the Tree Branch of Doom fell to the ground, further pulverizing the lean-to but missing the old house by a couple of meters. Amazingly, the 160m antenna did not break, but sprang loose. It took a whole lot of slack -- at its lowest, it would have garroted someone walking on the path across the property -- but Lisa was able to pull it back up into position, with no harm done.

Lisa lowered the tools to the ground, I brought the ladder back over the to the tree and held it in position, and she climbed down.

Lisa took this photo of me at the foot of the tree showing the Branch of Doom at my feet, where it has only managed to smash up more PVC pipe rather than tear a gash in the side of the house or flatten Lisa's trailer.

As she went to put the camera away, Lisa took this photo of me staring up where she had been sawing wood only a few minutes before. I'm glad she has a head for heights, because I couldn't have done this work myself. Besides, I'm too heavy for climbing in tree branches.

So a potential disaster is now only a nuisance. Clearing these heavy branches and rebuilding the lean-to is going to be a difficult task, but not an impossible one.

It's a pity, though, that the only thing the redwood branches are probably good for is firewood. I don't know of any other good use for them, not being a wood worker or anything like that. If there was anyone nearby who wanted the wood, we'd be happy to give it to him/her if s/he would haul the logs away. The waste of good wood was more apparent in another part of town, where workers were reducing a very large tree that had completely toppled to firewood-sized pieces. That seems a real pity, as it was a large tree and would almost certainly be better used as lumber; however, I guess nobody though to ask the mill across the river in Lyons if they'd want to have this tree -- or maybe the mill wasn't interested in just a single tree.
Tags: lisa, mehama, old house

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