Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

February Follies Commence

Today's plan was to go shopping in Salem for new slacks for Lisa; however, with a storm expected to move in soon and Saturday dawning fairly clear (but cold), Lisa decided to change the schedule and get some of the yard work done while the weather was good. Beware: Many photos behind the cuts below.

Some of you may recall the great excitement of the New Year's night 2009 storm, where many tree branches fell, including several close to our trailer. You will further recall that Lisa ended up having to climb the redwood tree and cut down the dangerously hanging branches, which did even more damage to the already-smashed-up lean-to awning that protects the side of the old house. In particular, this photo shows the wrecked awning and the branch that did the deed.

With some help from her brother, who cleared away some of the larger branches to make firewood, Lisa cleared the debris from the area where the lean-to stood.

Here's the remnants of the branch Lisa dropped out of the redwood tree. She had to tie a rope to it and use the Vanagon to pull it clear of the lean-to. When we get a chance, we shall reduce it to smaller pieces for firewood. It's an unfortunate use for good wood, but what else is there to do with it?

Amazingly, after clearing all of that stuff away, Lisa discovered that much of the lean-to was actually salvageable. Now, some of the sections were indeed smashed to splinters, but some 75% of the pieces that make the lean-to were intact, albeit pushed out of shape by the fallen branches. In the photo above, you see the result of her putting things back into place.

There's still much work to be done, because the broken frame pieces still need to be replaced, but I consider it to be a tribute to Lisa's engineering skills that so much of the structure still survived after taking multiple catastrophic hits.

Even some of the tarp covering the frame is sort of usable, although badly tattered and torn. Perhaps one-third of the frame is now covered by a single thickness of one end of the tarp, compared to the double-thickness that originally covered the entire structure. Someday, we will have to measure the entire structure again and commission a large (and expensive!) replacement tarp. Lisa put this piece back into place because the whole purpose of this lean-to is to keep water off of the side of the old house, and any protection is better than nothing.

But enough about the redwood tree. We had another Tree of Doom fall during that storm, but because the danger wasn't imminent, we mostly let it sit until I could get up here again to help with it. A tree fell on the old pumphouse, but did not smash the building, which appeared to be holding up decently under the tree's weight.

Here I am looking at the tree earlier today, wondering how we are going to get it off the roof without further damaging the building (or ourselves). Lisa got the trusty bow saw that she has been using to deal with the smaller branches (and which she used to drop that Monster Branch from high in the redwood tree), and a ladder.

Over the past few weeks, as weather has permitted, Lisa had used the bow saw to remove the smaller branches from the lower part of the tree, as you can see in the above photo. These were the branches she could reach while standing on the ground. With the tree apparently precariously balanced on the pumphouse with some assistance from the large fir tree in which it was partially entangled, she was unwilling to do more than this without someone to help. As it turned out, her fears were justified (about more which shortly).

This is the last photo Lisa took before putting the camera away and getting the ladder and saw out and getting to work. I held the ladder and hauled away branches as she sawed them off the partially-fallen tree. After getting a good amount of the brushy branches off the trunk of the tree, we agreed that it was about time to try and cut off the top quarter of the tree. Cutting through the trunk with the bow saw, Lisa heard a loud crack. She had only enough time to throw the bow saw clear before the end of the tree collapsed. Instead of falling straight down as we expected it to do, it pivoted on one of the remaining branches, whacked into the ladder, and sent Lisa sprawling, falling about two meters to the ground, where she landed on her backside, partially cushioned by the not-especially soft branches of the fallen tree.

I had been holding the ladder, but at Lisa's direction, had stood to the opposite side of the ladder from where the branch was hanging. Lisa says, "One of the reasons I didn't want to use the chainsaw here was that I wanted to be able to throw the saw clear in a pinch, and I wanted Kevin clear here in case I had to do the throw. This worked out well in this case." I was unable to check Lisa's fall. Fortunately, she had only a minor bruise, and after taking a few minutes to catch her breath and regather her wits, she decided to go back to work on the tree. Regrettably, the falling branch partially bent the ladder's paint shelf, which will need to be repaired.

Enough of the tree was down now that she could climb atop the pumphouse and finish clearing branches from there. The next hour or so was not particularly exciting ("Thank goodness!" says Lisa), with her cutting branches and me carrying them away to a pile nearby. By the time we finished, the pile was taller than I was. Eventually, we will have to haul all of this to the "coal seam" -- our name for the empty steam bed (dry ever since Oregon Route 22 was built across her parents' property) in which we dispose of yard debris.

After getting most of the branches cut, we realized that the entanglement with the fir tree was preventing us from getting more of the fallen tree clear. Lisa once more climbed a tree, going up into these branches. Most of the stubs you see here are where branches snapped off in the December/January storms, but a couple are her handiwork, where she cut dangerously-overloaded branches from the tree. There are more branches that we really should cut as well; the longer branches will almost certainly snap in the next big storm.

At my feet in this photo is the worst of the branches. This is actually one long branch that had partially broken mid-way back during the storm, but had never fallen completely. Lisa cut it off at the root, but it still wouldn't drop due to entanglement with other branches. With some pulling at other branches, I managed to finally get it to fall free without falling on me.

With all of the entanglements cleared, we discovered, to our surprise, that very little weight of the fallen tree was actually on the pumphouse after all. In this photo, I'm pointing to the small branch that, from a distance, seems to be holding the entire weight of the tree on the pumphouse. But you can easily move that branch, lifting the tree clear.

Amazingly, it appears that the tortured root of this tree is still holding a significant amount of the tree's weight, albeit at about a 45-degree angle off the vertical.

Here I am looking at the tree, now shorn of its annoying foliage. The remaining tree trunk is a bit of a challenge for the bow saw, and besides, we'd been working for several hours on this and Lisa in particular was getting understandably tired. She worked far harder than me in my opinion -- I just stood around and dragged tree branches back and forth. We agreed that we'll need to bring out the heavy artillery -- the electric chainsaw her father purchased a couple of weeks ago -- before tackling the rest of this tree. So we called it a day for yard work, putting away saws and ladders.

After fighting with the foliage, it was time for a quick but satisfying lunch and then cleaning up before heading into Salem for the originally-scheduled shopping expedition. Given that it started raining while were in Salem, we can feel pretty good about having properly prioritized our tasks. We really don't think it would a good idea to be using the electric chainsaw in the rain. *zap*
Tags: lisa, mehama

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