Lisa borrowed from her cousin a cable saw -- that's a length of chainsaw cutting chain with ropes on each end of it -- and we undertook to try and cut the tree closer to its base. We cleared away much of the brush and small branches near the base of the tree, Lisa cut it part-way through with the hand saw, and threaded the cable saw into the cut. We then played out the rope and tugged alternately on the ends. This allowed us to safely saw the tree without being anywhere near it.
We made pretty good progress, but when we stopped for a breather -- it's hard work -- with an inch or so to go, the chain got stuck, and nothing we could go could free it up. Uh, oh. Now we have a tree that is about 90% sawn-through at the bottom with a bunch of the tree suspended in the air sitting on the old house.
We couldn't get up close to the cut ourselves -- no way were either of us going up in a tree with a blade. However, Lisa's cousin had another tool that could be helpful: a twelve-foot pole with a saw blade on the end of it. We borrowed this pole-axe and Lisa carefully tried to saw on the tree with it, without much success.
Lisa decided that there was so little tree still there that we might be able to pull the tree down, so I got the climbing rope and Lisa used the pole-ax to lift one end over and around the tree. We then stretched out the rope and Lisa went and drove the big John Deere mower over and looped the other end around its tow-bar and pulled. It took several tries and resets, but finally there was a loud crack-boom and the sound of falling timber.
We carefully looked around the corner, and discovered that the end of the tree that had been in the air had fallen to earth, but the top of the tree was still leaning against the house.
On the bright side, there was no longer large piece of tree suspended in the air.
But we still had a tree leaning against the house!
We stopped for lunch after Lisa took the pictures above, and walked over to the Gingerbread House and bought a couple of elk-burgers. After lunch, we applied ourselves to getting the rest of the tree down.
Using the various saws (including the pole saw) we removed most of the brushy parts of the tree, leaving only the main trunk. Lisa used the hand saw to cut a large wedge out of the tree a bit over two meters off the ground. When she got to the point where she didn't think it safe to be near the tree again, she inserted the cable saw (which we had of course retrieved after pulling down the other piece of the tree earlier) into the slot, wedged some wood above it to prevent the tree from closing up on it like it had on the earlier cut, and removed the ladder.
Lisa and I took opposite ends of the cable saw rope and commenced the pulling alternately. It took about ten minutes, and then there was a crack and the tree broke in two. There was a bit of a scare when the upper part fell toward Lisa rather than toward me, the way we'd expected, but she was able to jump clear and it missed her by several meters.
After cutting the rest of the loose branches and hauling them away, we were left with these large sections of logs on the ground next to the old house:
We had neither the time nor the energy to get out the chainsaw and cut this tree up into firewood-length pieces, but the dangerous part was, thank goodness, finally over.
Somewhat to my surprise, the old house took little harm. We can't see any obvious damage to the roof (albeit that the roof is in poor condition to start with), and while the falling tree could easily have taken out a window, all it did was leave a small gouge in the window frame, as shown in the picture above. Really, given the circumstances, we couldn't have asked for much better.
Unfortunately, Lisa's cousin's cable-saw snapped when the tree fell, so we'll have to get him a new one, but that's a lot cheaper than the hundreds of dollars the tree-removal company would likely have charged.
I'm really relieved to get that tree off of the roof. Perhaps on my next trip north we'll be able to get the debris completely cleared away and the wood cut and put away for next year. We have been cutting the wood we cut last year this winter, so stuff isn't going to waste, but we haven't had time to do the really time-consuming work of splitting the maple tree that they cut down last year into manageable pieces. Alas, the tree pieces have been sitting in the field gathering moss and mushrooms ever since last spring.