When Life Gives You Trees, Make Firewood

It’s been suggested that chopping down a tree in barren West Texas could be considered a sin.

Well brother, if that’s true, we are sinners!

Unquestionably, the biggest, most aggravating, ongoing chore we’ve had since moving into our wonderful Kirkwood Manor has been keeping the swimming pool clean & free of debris. The big old oak tree in the back yard was perpetually dropping something—we were overwhelmed with bucketloads of leaves back in March & April, pesky little pods scattered by the handfuls daily during Spring & Summer, some kind of cottony fluff started falling during late Summer, and of course there were a couple of different types of seeds & acorns that dropped off the tree almost all the time (for which the neighborhood squirrels were very thankful). Especially bothersome, the high tannin (yup, the same acidic compound that gives your mouth that dry, puckery feeling when you drink wine) content causes oak debris to quickly leave nasty rust-colored stains in the pool and surrounding decking.

Even beyond the constantly-falling tree debris, the tree’s roots had already caused some minor damage to the concrete decking that the previous owners had patched up. There was every reason to believe that the this would only continue to worsen since the tree was just a couple of inches from the decking and less than 6′ from the pool itself. And I’m a little surprised that this hadn’t already caused any problems with the pool’s plumbing. Really, whoever had the pool installed should’ve removed the tree at that time.

But maybe worst of all, the big oak tree almost completely shaded the swimming pool except during early morning and evening hours, so even at the peak of Summer in triple-digit West Texas heat, the water was still a bit chilly.

Even as much as Dede & I both really hated the thought of getting rid of a big, thriving shade tree, we finally decided that, for the sake of enjoying the pool and prolonging the life of the pool plumbing & filter equipment—and preserving the pool cleaner’s (that would be me) sanity—the tree needed to go. So, last week, I found a really nice tree guy, Seth Moore, who had the gear to tackle the job, offered to do it for a reasonable price and came highly recommended. And down the mighty oak went…

oak tree

The mighty oak tree in its previous glory

cutting down an oak tree - day 1

Tree removal progress - Day 1

About halfway through Day 1, I got a call from Seth reassuring me that, “The firemen said there’s no problem. These things just happen.” I instantly had visions of smoldering embers in a pile where our new house had previously been. Fortunately, the house was in no danger, but the tip of a large branch had snagged a nearby high-voltage power line and snapped it, causing all manner of chaos. Fire department crew and electric company linemen in large “bucket trucks” ascended on the scene to restore service to the neighborhood.

When we came home from work that day to survey the progress, we saw a whole row of birds perched on the nearby power line—yeah, the very same one—and I’m fairly sure they were cussing us fiercely over the loss of their beloved tree.

cutting down an oak tree - day 2

Tree removal progress - Day 2

Keen-eyed readers will also notice that the pool water went from sparkling, clear blue to a brackish, black swampy catastrophe by day 3. Yup, there’s nothing like a 40′ tree’s worth of sap, sawdust, and stray clippings to thoroughly wreck a swimming pool. So, the cleanup begins again. Seems even on its way out, that danged ol’ tree was determined to get one last cruel dig at me!

oak tree removed

Day 3 - All gone!

What else is left in the wake of this carnage? Lots of firewood! My best guess is that we probably ended up with well beyond a full cord of wood but from according to what we’ve heard & read, it probably won’t be “seasoned” enough to use in the fireplace for nearly a year.

oak firewood

oak firewood

Wonder if this is going to negatively affect my Arbor Day Foundation membership…