Posted: Wednesday, June 03, 2009

There I was looking at the huge birch tree that I had offered to cut down at Jim Delker's house in Soldotna. This wasn't your normal birch tree as it was bigger than the average tree and it was split about three feet up the stump all the way up the tree trunk. Then you throw in how close it was to the house and you quickly realize this could be a very dangerous situation. Not only could I possibly end up wrecking Jim's home, someone could also get injured by being struck from falling dead limbs or the trunk splitting and the tree falling in several directions at once!

I carefully came up with a plan then asked another friend Jim Ries for his opinion on how to cut the tree safely without getting anyone hurt or damaging any property. We discussed the plan and started rigging up equipment. We brought several hundred feet of cable and chain plus two winches, 2 chain saws, 150 feet of rope, John Deere 310 backhoe, and our 18 ft. car haul trailer. We also had a crew of nine to help get the job done and the mess cleaned up as quickly and professionally as possible.

We fastened two chains around the birch tree, one at about three feet and another at about 30 feet and tightened them both with chain binders. This we hoped would prevent the tree from splitting and falling where we did not want it to go. We then fastened another chain and cable line to the top of the tree trunk and ran it to the loader. We also tied my 12,000 lb. winch to the tree and used a strap to secure the winch to another birch tree. The strap protected the healthy tree more so then a chain would while still offering enough durability to hold the winch too. The winch was stubbed up as extra assurance that the tree could not fall on the house.

I then tied another 150 ft. rope in the tree and made loop handles for the kids to help pull or steer the tree in a safe direction just in case all else failed. By tying on loop handles it gives them something pretty easy to grip and a whole lot safer then wrapping the rope around your arm or trying to pull on a straight stretched out part of the rope.

Jim Ries was mainly responsible for most of the plan we used that evening and everything worked perfectly. We soon had the tree cut and it fell exactly where we wanted it to fall. The tree was in even worse shape than we originally thought, as it was half hollow which also increases the chance for it to split even worse. My children Brad, Alea and Travis all helped as did Colt and Harley McDonald as well as Joe Ben Hawkins, Jim Ries, and my wife Taby. Once Colt and I started cutting it up with chainsaws the others started hauling brush and loading firewood. It almost reminded me of a colony of ants tearing something up. Everyone worked great together and the tree was quickly cleaned up.

As we arrived home we still had to quickly unload the wood so we could go back and finish loading the brush and raking the yard up. I told the boys I wanted to get done as quickly as possible so we could go out fishing in the morning. Our 18 ft. trailer was at least full piled about 4 ft. high. The wood was completely unloaded in 5 minutes! No that is not a typo it actually only took 5 minutes! I think the kids were excited about wanting to go fishing too.

The next day we went fishing despite it being windy and cold. Travis caught a nice rainbow almost 19 inches long and a 16 inch kokanee. Cold weather quickly chased us off the lake but yet it was fun just being there. It has always amazed me how much work kids can do if you promise to take them fishing. If I had to do the tree all by myself I would still be over there working on it.

See you next week!

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