Thursday, August 30, 2007

Tree Stumps = Pain in the Rear

Two summers ago I struggled with two dead trees in my back yard. We had them dropped to the ground and Erin, Reuben, and I chopped them up and moved them to the woods (link to story).

Last summer I removed the first of the two stumps. If I wasn't so stubborn and cheap I would have paid $50-100 to have both stumps removed professionally but I wanted to do the job manually with nothing more than an axe, a shovel, and hand saw. I've taken out stumps before but nothing bigger than a 6" tree or large bush. These trees were both 18+" in diameter.
The first stump was pretty bad. I dug around it but couldn't get at the roots because they were too far down. So I hacked away at the stump top with an axe until it was near ground level and then trimmed it the rest of the way with a hand saw until I could just barely cover it with dirt.

I saved the bigger stump until this summer. My plan was to gradually whittle it down with an axe by starting early in the spring and just hacking away for a few minutes every night. Unfortunately, after a few attempts I stopped making progress. The wood just didn't want to nicely break away. After 4 months of chipping away I was still left with this mess.
Then I had the great idea to burn the stump. I was pretty nervous about it since I knew it was illegal to burn anything on the ground in Kentwood but I decided to take my chances.

There may have been a small grass fire or two, but I put them out right away...unless I wanted to take a picture first.
During the burning I had to bear the overprotective motherly concerns of my neighbor. A barrage of questions like:

"do you know how to control a fire?"
"do you have a hose?"
"what will you do if it gets too big?"
"are you drinking plenty of water so you don't get dehydrated?"
"do you have your inhaler with you in case your asthma gets bad because of the smoke?"
It was miserable. No, I won't burn your house down and yes, I have been around a fire least once or twice.
The burning helped somewhat but was probably a bigger risk than it was worth. So after an hour I stopped burning and went back to my hacking and sawing.
Eventually I made it down to ground level and covered it up with some nice topsoil and seed.

It was WAY more work than it should have been but I feel better about myself knowing I did it all with brute force and a little fire. After the burning fiasco my neighbor had a stump grinder look at it - he quoted $30. I felt slightly foolish...but at least I still have my pride.


Blogger Rob Friggin Brandt said...

Randy, you will remain in my mind the intelligent, quick witted, strong willed individual that I know you are. However, you are retarded. Why use fire and axe when a relatively small amount of dynamite will do the job with less smoke and more noise?

12:59 AM  

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