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The house we live in was Ivan’s Grandma’s and Grandpa’s and before he died, Ivan’s Grandpa asked that the two black walnut trees in the backyard be cut down and sawn into usable wood to be distributed to any family members that want to use it. Black walnut is fairly valuable wood and he felt that the next owners of the house wouldn’t really appreciate the wood anyway, so he’d rather his family have it. So last week we began the process of cutting down two 50 year old black walnut trees.

Monday morning:

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First we (by we I mean mostly Ivan’s mom, who did all the organizing) had someone come in with a chainsaw and truck with a people lifter (?) to cut the trees down in ways that wouldn’t require our neighbors to build a new home. We asked him to leave the limbs and pieces as big as possible to be sawn into boards later.

By Monday afternoon we were left with two 10 foot (or so) stumps

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Then we rented a trailer and rolled, hauled, jacked up, levered, come-alonged and I swear at one point we pretty much just levitated the stinking 4-12 foot limb pieces that came from the tree onto it to be taken to the saw mill. We took two trailers of logs to the mill and had them cut to various widths. When they came back they looked like this:

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At this point you may be asking yourselves why we left the stumps so tall. Well, I’ll tell you. Apparently some of the prettiest wood in a tree is in the stump and roots of the tree. When a tree removal company removes a stump they cut it down close to the ground and then bring in a stump grinder to grind out all the wood and roots. Ivan’s grandpa and family wanted the pretty stump and root wood un-mulched, so we left the stumps about 10 ft so that we would have something to grab onto with… drum roll please…

IMG_4339The backhoe! This is actually the second backhoe. We rented one on Tuesday afternoon and dug big moats around the trees and poked the stumps a bit before realizing it was not anywhere near powerful enough to pull those suckers out. So Wednesday morning we called in a bigger backhoe. At this point I would like to say thanks to the two guys from church that came and drove the backhoe. They’re not exactly intuitive to drive. Thanks Jack and Preston!

IMG_4352At this point we were really beginning to question our sanity in thinking we could get these stumps out of the ground. They were NOT coming out. Finally Wednesday night, after pushing and pulling the bigger stump this way and that all day we chained the stump to the backhoe, the backhoe to a pick-up truck and that pick-up truck to a second pick up truck.

Unfortunately I was inside cooking when this happened, so I quickly took a less than awesome picture through the window, but I don’t think I could have gotten the whole chain of three vehicles plus tree in one picture anyway, so you’ll have to use your imagination a little bit. Those trucks revved and spun and finally got that stump out of the ground it clung to so tightly.

With the big one out they called it a day and got up early the next morning to pull the second stump out. It came a lot easier.

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Then we called the chain saw man back to come saw the ten feet off the stump, which left us with just the root ball at the bottom. The above picture is the smaller stump. Below is the bigger one.IMG_4366

After hauling the stumps and a few leftover logs to the sawyer, we’re now left with two piles of drying boards in the garage, a really torn up yard, and two huge root balls sitting in our backyard. The job is now to pull all the dirt and clay out of the root balls to get them cleaned up to go to the saw mill.

So there you go. If you ever wanted to know how to chop down a tree properly, now you know. We had some fun along the way:

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Jumping off stumps…

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Sitting on stumps

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Watching stumps fall down…

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Climbing on dirt…

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Helping to dig in the dirt…

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Helping to brush dirt off stumps…

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