Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Tree Carnage

Here's what carnage looks like...

Over the course of the last several years, we've had a few large oak trees drop all of their leaves in the middle of summer and just die. Some were damaged by ice storms but I don't think it was enough to kill them. Anyway, I'm not really sure what is going on and I've gotten a different opinion from every person I've talked to about it. They seem to just give up and die. It's sickening to watch it happen and not be able to do anything about it. At the end of the process,

there's a dead tree standing among a bunch of living trees, like a huge skeleton. Some of them are well over a hundred years old (yes I counted the rings).

A couple of weeks ago I finally got around to addressing the situation, after playing Russian Roulette for a couple of years with them looming way too close to the house. I had contacted a guy back in October about taking them down and after giving me an estimate, he promptly fell off the face of the earth (that would be my second Craigslist Fail, as Greg refers to them). No money changed hands so it was mostly just a waste of my time.

I decided about three weeks ago that it was time to just pony up and get them taken down by some professional tree surgeons before I came to regret procrastinating about it. I contacted Morris Tree Service and they gave me an estimate of $500 to take all four of them down, and leave them for me to deal with. A few days later, they showed up right on time at 9:00 a.m. and were done by 10:30. They used a bucket truck to lop off the limbs and top the trees before cutting them down and while there's a huge mess out there, the risk of them falling on the house is now gone.

Including the trees we took down several years ago when we planted the vineyard, we have a total of about 12 very big logs to mill into some useful oak lumber, and my next quest is finding someone with either a portable sawmill who will come and mill them on site, or a regular sawmill with a truck and crane big enough to load them and haul them away. We probably have as much as seven thousand board feet of white oak in these logs and it appears to be in good enough shape that it's criminal to turn it into firewood. The log in the picture has a rotten center at the base and I'm not sure it goes all the way through the length of the log, but most of the trees we've taken down have been solid all the way through and the cause of death is unknown.

If I knew of one nearby, I'd try to connect with a Cooper and have some of the wood made into wine barrels. That would be pretty cool. Hmmm, I may look into that. I think there might be a couple of them in Missouri...

Anyway, at some point we are either going to finish building our house, or skip that and move on to building the winery. Either way, it would give me a really good feeling to know that these poor trees went on to have a second life in the form of some furniture, timber framing, flooring, or even some wine barrels.

In the meantime, I have a lot of debris to clean up and the wood chipper will be getting a decent workout pretty soon. This mess is going to make quite a pile of mulch...

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