Thursday, June 12, 2014

How many hillbillies does it take to fell a tree?

We have some sort of fungus going around (no, not in my shoes) that is taking out the big old oaks around here.  Which is sad.  I hate to see a big, majestic tree go from green and full to brown crispy leaves to dead in a matter of weeks.  We've taken two huge oaks out in the last few years, and just last summer we lost one to the same stuff.  Double-bummer is that I saw the fungus-in-question on the base of another of the two remaining big, shady oaks by the house, which means I suspect that one will be dead by summer this year or next latest.

Being good stewards of the forest, we tend to keep snags out in the woods for the wildlife.  But these oaks are too close to the house or the barn to let stand.  About a week ago, the oak that died last year dropped a HUGE limb onto the goat fence in the middle of the night.  Luckily the windows were open and I was still awake so I heard the crash.  Paul went out to see what the noise was and it had taken down a cattle panel, which he went out to fix in the middle of the night in his PJ's.  What a guy!  If I hadn't heard that crash, I'm sure I would have been woken up by the sound of dozens of goat hooves on the porch and Pickles screaming through the front window to be fed.

Since we can't have a tree dropping limbs on livestock or human, it was time to take it down before it took one of us or the barn down.  Of course, it's not like you can just "take down the tree".  And like any other project around here, there are usually fifty million little things that have to happen before the main event.  You know, like how hard can it be to pick up some hay?  Nothing is ever simple around here.

First, you (and when I say "you", I mean Paul) have to find the chainsaw and gas.  Once you find them, you have to get rid of the limbs already on the ground.  With the "help" of annoyingly curious goats:
Chop Suey will soon BE chop suey if he doesn't move his butt.
Then you have to construct another pen just to keep those annoyingly curious goats out of the way before you go all "Leatherface" on them.  After spending an hour constructing a temporary pen to contain the goats, you can go back to felling the tree.  Except you can't do that quite yet because there are two rows of fence between the dead tree and the area you want it to land.  And other, smaller trees that need to be felled in order to get to the fence.

Then it starts to rain.  For days weeks.  So for now we just give the area around the tree a wide berth and hope that it doesn't impale any of the critters (well, except for maybe Pickles).


  1. Actually what you might have is oak wilt, which is a fungus that is spread through the roots of the trees from one to the other. The actual stuff you are seeing coming up on the trees is a secondary mushroom type fungus that is preying the already infected and dying trees.
    Not much you can do to prevent it, but I would highly recommend contacting your county or state forester for suggestions.
    I hate to see majestic trees go, such a waste and shame.

  2. Me too, maybe something could be done?

  3. Yep, there's something about seeing a big tree go that creates a real loss. We're constantly having to take down dead and dying trees around here. Happily, most of them die from "natural" causes (old age?) but they're plenty dangerous to animals and humans. I get twisted innards every time hubby has to take one down. This is the land of guys who log for a living and you hear horror stories all the time of accidents when cutting down trees.

    Maybe you could train Pickles to regularly patrol the perimeters of all your fences looking for potentially dangerous trees . . .

  4. There is nothing that is "just" do it. Everything involves a million steps - especially if there is livestock involved. Isn't it amazing how 'helpful' they are?

  5. We have 2 trees we need to knock down. I'm not looking forward to that job.

  6. Oh this story is so true, and I went back and read about the hay ordeal also. Sounds just exactly like our place, and I'm guessing so many other farms too!