Tuesday, March 6, 2012


This is our little tree-cutting helper! NOT! (Does anyone ever say "not" anymore or was that "so 2010?" Truth be told, Gavin is more in the way than anything else when we're cutting trees. For one thing it isn't very safe for him to be traipsing around when we've got trees falling left and right and for another, he really isn't that interested in it! We thought we'd be proactive and get him all excited about it by getting him his own chainsaw. No, we're not dumb silly enough to go out and buy one in hopes that it would keep him occupied - this is one that we had given my nephew as a gift about 7 years ago, so I just called up my sister and asked if they still had it and if we could borrow it. Can you believe it still works after 7 years? If you're looking for an awesome toy chainsaw that will last a long time, this was the Home Depot one.

Gavin actually only lasted an our or so before he was driving us crazy and we sent him up to Grandma and Grandpa's for the afternoon. We were much, much more productive without all the "help".

Here is what we were tackling...

This mess of brush lines the front edge of our yard along the road on both sides of our driveway. It's mostly made up of Buckthorn and Elm trees - two of my least favorite trees/shrubs, and some wild honeysuckle bushes that were most likely planted by one of the early property owners long, long ago. I love the honeysuckle actually, but they had gotten out of hand.

The house that used to sit on our property actually sat right there where you can see the driveway go across the photo, so these trees would have been directly in front of their house. No one lived in that house for at least the last 20 years, and even when Cliff and I started dating 18 years ago it was a creepy old empty house, about to fall over, and I only knew it as "the haunted house" because one year shortly before I met Cliff, he and his cousin had set up a "haunted" house in this old empty house for Halloween.

So, this area in the very front of our yard has been left to grow wild and unruly for about 20 years or so. Back around 2005-ish, we actually had what was left of the house bulldozed because it was unsafe and was literally about to tip over. Half of the upstairs was already missing and there were no windows left, no appliances, nothing but a gray shell of what was once someone's home. After bulldozing the house, we burned the pile of rubble, buried the old foundation, and a couple of years later, put our driveway right where the house used to be.

Over all those years, what was probably once a well-manicured front lawn, had become an overgrown mess. I actually loved the natural state of it simply for its "wildness". As a kid growing up I had lots of "wild" places to explore and loved finding secret spaces to play, build forts, and use my imagination. I dreamed of having such wild places for my kids some day.

...and then Buckthorn started popping up in all of my flowerbeds, and my vegetable garden, and my lawn, and my secret play spaces and I could not kill it fast enough. Enough! DONE with wild places!

Not entirely. I still want some natural places, but I only want them to LOOK wild, I actually want them to be carefully maintained. So, we tackled the Buckthorn. With the Buckthorn though, came everything else. We cut dead, almost dead, and otherwise simply inconveniently placed elm trees up into firewood.

We created the mother of all brush piles. This picture below isn't it. I can't even get a picture of the brush pile we made because I'd have to be so far away to get it all in the photo, that you would have no idea how big it actually was. This below is the little brush pile in our yard (which was still 10' tall and 20' wide) that we pushed onto (into) the big brush pile with the big loader tractor. This bonfire will likely challenge the fire we had when we burned down the old barn that used to sit where our house now sits.

Once the brush was cleared, we had this little fella to deal with. Yeah, not so little afterall. This was an enormous old maple tree that is 95% hollow. It's true - I could actually stand inside the trunk of this tree and you would not be able to see me. The other side is open about 5" from the ground, so if you could climb up 5" you could get down inside the tree. Actually, me, Cliff, and you could all stand inside it at the same time and no one would even ever see us! We weren't sure quite where to even begin on this mighty maple.

Here you can see the opening, along with Cliff standing nearby it, which gives you a sense of just how huge it is (was). I actually voted to just cut the top off and keep the bottom there for Gavin to discover and play in. Unfortunately it's right next to the road so that's not where we want him playing anyway. Then I had the grand idea of cutting the trunk into a 5' "log" and moving it up closer to the house and laying it on it's side so that Gavin could crawl through it. But... the trunk weighed about three elephants I am sure. So, moving it was not an option - even with the loader tractor.

Once my tough, strong lumberjack had cut the trunk off at the bottom, it was so heavy we couldn't get it to tip over. It just stood there, completely cut through. He had to actually saw it vertically from the top down to the bottom to split it enough to get it to tip over. Once it was split in half and laying horizontally, Cliff could actually stand inside it horizontally too!

These were the "little" branches.

This (below) was honestly the most help Drake was through this whole process. I'm quite serious too - in this photo at least he wasn't hauling off entire trees just after I'd gotten them to the brush pile. Talk about undoing a day's work in a single minute! This guy knows how to pick em. He takes the one branch from the bottom of the brush pile that's going to send the whole thing toppling over. and over. and over. Thankfully we kept a pretty close eye on him and when he gets a stick (tree) he really likes, he sits and chews on it for a while!

The Crew

Since I sadly lost my big old majestic Maple tree stump, I have to resign to the fact that this tree below is my only old beauty left. She's old and fading fast, but so amazing. I LOVE this old tree and I just imagine all it has seen. All that has passed under her canopy, all the kids who climbed up to build forts in her branches. This tree is right at the end of our driveway, and would have been right near the old house that was here. I saw this tree in an old photo of the farm that used to be here. I'll be so sad when she goes too, but we've got lots of young new trees planted and maybe some day our great-grandkids will look at those trees when they're old and fading and wonder what stories they hold, who planted them, and who climbed in their branches!

Our world is an ever changing landscape. Just last week the front edge of our yard was so thick with brush (above) you could barely see through it and today it's a clean, clear space with a few tall elms and a few Honeysuckle bushes that we spared. We're already talking about what we WANT growing there and imagining what it will look like in another 10 years.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great Post hun, Glad to be your big strong lumberjack.