Friday, January 05, 2007

Choppin' Down The Trees!

It wouldn't be a holiday break at The Family's house in FL without the destruction of something. And of course the destruction of something that involves a lot of muscle, sweat and tears. And a broken finger nail. Or two.

This time, The Mom decided that she wanted The Dad and The Steph to help remove three gigantic branches of this willowesque tree that were growing into the pond in front of The House. These pictures don't really do the takeover justice! But you can get the feel for the task at hand.

After analyzing the situation and evaluating our tools in hand, we created a game plan. The Family was split up into 4 main roles:

1) The Sister - Tree Avoider. Her job was to leave and go to work and avoid any and all manual labor on the property.

2) The Dad - Tree Chopper. His role was to fix and activate the chain saw following any damage sustained during the last attempt at tree chopping over Thanksgiving break.

3) The Mom - Tree Puller. She was to sit on the tractor and pull the tree out of the water after The Dad chopped it from the mainland.

4) The Steph - Tree Lassoer. I was to climb and lasso the tree with the rope prior to The Tree Chopper and The Tree Puller being activated for duty.

After establishing duties, we decided that we were going to need some strong rope. The Mom and The Steph were sent out to the local hardware store in search of acceptable rope. There were many, many options at the local Ace Hardware Store (no longer the place with the helpful hardware, to be politically correct and urban-hip, it's the place with the helpful hardware peeps).

First, we had the wall of rope-by-the-foot.

Then, we had the wall of pre-packaged and pre-measured rope. Decisions, decisions.

Ultimately, we went with this rope:

After acquiring our rope, The Mom and I returned home to find The Dad contemplating the fate of The Tractor. As you may remember, The Tractor is integral to any tree extraction operation at The Family's house. It's one and only role in this job is to pull the tree...that's why we got the rope. And it wouldn't start. So The Dad tried to jump it by using The Jeep.

As you can probably tell, that wasn't too successful, therefore puzzling The Parents. So The Dad removed the battery and attached it to the charger. In the meantime, The Dad worked on The Chain Saw. Another integral part of any tree extraction. That worked.

Since The Mom and I were now rendered useless since we didn't have a tractor to drive and it didn't do me any good to start lassoing trees since we couldn't pull them out of the water, we went out to work in the greenhouse.

While in the greenhouse, The Mom looked up and gasped. I looked up and screamed like a little girl and ran back outside.

Because this is what we saw:

I ran and got The Dad, who took down the gigantic snake skin and put in on the table for it's photo opp. (Once it had been established that the snake was no longer around, and the snake skin was corralled, I returned with The Camera. Another integral tool in any kind of yard work done with The Family that may cause me to laugh and need to blog about it.)

After incapacitating the snake skin, we went back outside, where Denny was playing with a stuffed duck. Yes, we have a sick sense of humor. That stuffed duck was Denny's Christmas present.

Eventually, we finished wasting time and stalling, The Tractor started up, and we went to work.

Our first task was to take out this branch:

So I climbed out there to begin the tree lassoing process. (Don't try this at home, kids.)

It is a delicate process, requiring great concentration.

And the assistance of a canine unit.

Who tried to knock me off the tree, forcing me into a ballet display.

Before I won and he fell off.

Then The Tree Chopper chopped The Tree Branch. (I missed the action shot because I was running inside to get more batteries for The Camera. Booo.)

And then The Tree Puller pulled the tree to shore.

And then The Tree Chopper chopped some more, cutting the tree up into little pieces to add to the burn pile.

Then I began the lassoing process for branch #2.

This time, my position was a little more precarious.

But I succeeded.

And that limb was removed, I am just sparing you the morbid details.

Then we had the 3rd and final and most challenging branch. The Branch Mostly Covered By Water.

I'll spare you the details of that extraction, too. But trust me, we got it out.

So the next task was to put all of the branches on the trailer and pull it with our friendly tractor. We created the first load, and The Mom attempted to pull away from the scene with the trailer. And that's when the wheels just fell off of the operation. Literally. The wheel fell off the trailer.

Now we were in a bit of a pickle. We had a HUGE pile of tree branches and trunks to burn, we were far away from the burn pile, and we had no way to get them there. I went to the fence line with our neighbor to talk to one of his employees. (Our neighbors own a tree farm, and although they were in TN or someplace on vacation, their workers were tending the land.) I and asked him if we could borrow a trailer to attach to our tractor. He said sure, come on over. So I did. And I left with not only his trailer, but also his tractor! And what a cool tractor it was. You had to shift it! (Just like my truck I pointed out to Felipe, who didn't seem amused by that observation.)

We were able to load up all of the wood in 1 trip and bring it to the back of the property to the burn pile!

Mac and The Mom watched.

And The Mom watched Mac chase lizards on the citrus trees.

While The Dad and The Steph unloaded the giant trailer.

And then there was none!

And then I had to return the tractor to its home next door.

For the grand finale, the after pictures:

And look, you can see the house reflected in the water, now!

A successful event! No humans were injured (this time) in the making of this blog.