Life Lessons Learned from Cutting Down a Favorite Tree

I learn a lot of life lessons from living in the county. The other day I watched my husband and his dad cut down a favorite tree. It gave me time to stop and reflect a bit about life. Deep stuff, people. Deep stuff. 😉
Taking down the garden shed tree. How big of a tractor does it take to cut down a tree

I have not always lived in the country. While my husband Dan is a bonafide farm boy, I grew up in the city. I love living in the country now, but I’m always shocked by some aspect of rural life. There are so many things I never really thought about or even knew were possible, but I am more and more impressed with how versatile many farm people are. They sure do know how to get things done. I’m not sure what I’d do without these people.

Life Lessons Learned from Cutting Down a Favorite Tree

1. Sometimes you have to do things you don’t want to do.

The other evening, Dan’s dad showed up at our property in his enormous John Deere tractor. I’m not sure why he came in the tractor (he lives about 5 miles away), but he came to take down my kids’ favorite tree. Sadly, the tree split last fall in a wind storm and then this winter the split just kept getting worse and worse. The kids were very upset to learn that the tree had to come down, but we didn’t really have a choice.

Cutting down the garden shed tree

It was precariously close to the garden shed we moved to our property from a lot in town several years ago and leaning over the roof. While the shed mostly just stores junk right now, I have high hopes for this it and we knew that when the tree finally came down, it would crush the shed and destroy its contents too. So Dan’s dad showed up in his tractor with his chainsaw one night right before it was time for me to start dinner.

2. Sometimes it’s ok for dinner to be late.

Taking down the garden shed tree-004

I don’t know how it works in your family, but when Dan’s dad shows up with a goal, it has to be accomplished no matter what else might be going on. So instead of cooking dinner as I had planned, I helped move a few things from around the garden shed and then took pictures of the tree-cutting-down-process. I did eventually get to dinner, but it was quite late before we ate. Luckily, no one starved while waiting.  😉 Sometimes, you just have to let it all go and live in the moment.

3. It’s important to learn how to do stuff. Or get a job that makes a lot of money so you can pay people who know how to do stuff.

Taking down the garden shed tree

Look at the tree in that picture! That tree is so much bigger than I ever gave it credit for. I didn’t have the first idea about taking it down, but Dan’s dad sure knew what to do. First, Larry cut off the lowest branches from JLG lift Dan bought several years ago to put a new roof on the big barn we also moved to our property. {I’m pretty sure Dan wanted to start a construction company primarily so he could collect machinery like the lift, but I have to admit that it does come in handy sometimes.} He approached cutting down that tree the way he seems to approach most everything in life: with confidence that he could get the job done, big equipment, and muscles to power through it. I don’t know how farm people learn how to do as much as they can – but they are without a doubt some of the most inventive and resourceful people I know. They just get stuff done!! I hope my kids learn the same skills and that’s one reason I love living in the country.

4. When in doubt, use a bigger tractor.

To continue cutting down the tree, Dan’s dad had to go up higher in the lift to cut down the branches that weren’t in danger of falling on the garden shed. When he got to the branches that would have fallen on the roof, he started tying a rope to them to stop their fall. At one point, they tied a particularly large branch to the tractor and then somehow pulled it out of the way of the garden shed as it fell by driving the tractor away from the shed. I never would have thought to do something like that! I guess the tractor was useful for cutting down the tree after all.

Cutting down a tree.

By the time most of the branches were off and just the trunk was left, it was getting pretty dark. Larry used the same process with the rope to cut down the trunk. He’d tie the rope to the trunk and cut a chunk off, and then we’d watch it fall and swing by the rope. I was a little nervous that the falling trunk would bounce that basket he was standing in a bit too hard and he’d be jostled out, but that didn’t happen. Luckily.

4. The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The next best time to plant a tree is today.

Taking down the garden shed tree. How big of a tractor does it take to cut down a tree The other evening, Dan's dad showed up at our property in his enormous John Deere tractor. I'm not sure why he came over in the tractor (he lives about 5 miles away), but he came to take down my kids' favorite tree. Sadly, the tree split last fall in a wind storm and then this winter the split just kept getting worse and worse. Cutting down the garden shed tree The tree was precariously close to the garden shed we moved to our property from a lot in town several years ago. While it mostly just stores junk right now, I have high hopes for this little shed and we knew that when if finally came down, it would crush it and destroy the contents too. So Dan's dad showed up in his tractor with his chainsaw one night right before dinner. I don't know how it works in your family, but when Dan's dad shows up with a goal, it has to be accomplished no matter what else might be going on. So instead of cooking dinner that night, I helped move a few things out of the way and then took pictures of the tree-cutting-down-process. Taking down the garden shed tree-004 First, Larry cut off the lowest braces from JLG lift Dan bought several years ago so he could put a new roof on our barn. I'm pretty sure Dan wanted to start a construction company primarily so he could collect machinery like the lift, but I have to admit that it does come in handy. Taking down the garden shed tree The he went up higher in the lift and cut down the branches that weren't in danger of falling on the garden shed. When he got to the branches that would have fallen on the roof, he started tying a rope to them to stop their fall. At one point, they tied a particularly large branch to the tractor and then somehow pulled it out of the way of the garden shed as it fell. Cutting down a tree. By the time he got most of the branches off, it was getting pretty dark. When he was left with just the trunk, he used the same process with the rope. He'd tie the trunk to the rope, but a chunk off, and then we'd watch it fall. I was a little nervous that it would bounce that basket he was standing in a bit too hard and he'd be jostled out, but that didn't happen. Luckily. For a long time now, I've felt I should share more details about our daily life out here on our little 5-acre homestead in Eastern Iowa. Often, the stories aren't convenient for sharing, I don't have the right pictures, or I feel not quite right about sharing some of the details I'd really like to share. I've also noticed I'm really good starting stories on my blog and then not finishing them.

It got too dark for me to keep taking pictures, but this is what it looked like the next day. The tree is gone and my garden shed is safe, but it sure is sad looking without that tree. We’re going to plant a couple Weeping Willows somewhere else to make up for it. Trees make our property a lot nicer and so we have to keep planting them to make up for events like this. One of the reasons the kids really liked this particular tree was because it had vines. In about 20 years, maybe our grandkids will really enjoy playing around a Weeping Willow. It’s too bad we don’t already have one on the property.

In all, cutting down this tree was a much bigger ordeal than I thought it would be – probably because I never really considered cutting something of its size down. While we weren’t all that happy to have to take down the tree, I’m thankful for people who know how to get the job done, big tractors, and new trees. Country life is pretty awesome!

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Comments

  1. What a lovely post! Some years ago we had to cut down a Redbud tree in our backyard. The tree had severe rot and was listing ever more, it was really just a matter of time before it fell down, potentially on a playing child or lawn mowing adult. We had loved this tree and cutting it down was sad but necessary. Fortunately a couple of men in a pick up truck had stopped by our house looking for work, and since this tree was short enough not to require climbing (they had no insurance), I quickly pulled them into the backyard. We were all sad to see it go but felt a lot safer after wards!
  2. I had no idea it could take so much to cut down a tree. Looks like you had quite the day! I like the idea you mentioned with tying a rope to branches that would be falling to catch their fall. We have a big tree that has to be cut down soon, so I might try that tactic. If I can't get it right, I may just call as specialist.
  3. Very insightful post!! Everyone should go to employ tools for pruning. Reliant on what you need to do, there are numerous tools that are necessary. If you don't certainly want to do tree cutting, but would rather just trim the leaves or trim shrubberies, you may only need pole tree pruners, not a chainsaw.
  4. It's great that you have tree-cutting experts in the family! It's sad when you have to cut down a tree, but as you say, you can plant ones for the future members of your family. Thanks for sharing!

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