We removed a ponderosa pine from our back yard.
Several months ago, the tree closest to our back window began a slow transformation and turned more brown than all the others. Eventually it died and left behind a tangled mass of withered branches and dried needles.
The dead tree attracted the attention of passing salesmen hoping to reap the benefit of our misfortune. One stopped by unannounced and said, "Your tree is visible from the street. For a thousand dollars, I'll remove it." A thousand dollars? No, thank you! A few days later, another salesman knocked on my door. He quoted me $700 and quickly added that his family was desperate to find work. I would love to help, but even at a substantial discount, almost any amount was too much. This economy has affected us too.
The tree also attracted the attention of a pileated woodpecker with a beautiful red crest on its head. He generally appeared in the mornings and peeled the bark away from the trunk of the tree. In a few short days, the woodpecker managed to strip more than half the tree and leave a pile of discarded bark on the ground. Our family was somewhat entertained by the unusual appearance of this bird, until someone informed me that the woodpecker was eating beetles, the same beetles that killed our tree.
We found ourselves in the dilemma of needing to remove the dead tree but without much money to do so. I finally offered to pay a friend $100 a month for several months if he would cut it down. He refused the offer, but instead showed up to remove the tree at no cost.
My friend climbed the tree and removed the limbs one by one. Meanwhile, I stood on the ground a simply prayed that he wouldn't slip or fall.
After removing the branches, he cut the main trunk into sections. He connected a rope to each section and had me pull them to the ground, thereby directing the direction of their fall. Despite my anxieties, everything landed without a hitch.
Once the tree was on the ground, we found the first concrete signs of the infestation. The inner bark was riddled with the carved channels left by the beetles.
At the very end, we even found a few beetles that managed to escape the woodpecker. Hopefully we stopped the infection of the other trees in our neighborhood.
As a side note, my kids counted 102 rings of the tree stump. It's hard to think this living thing has stood on this place for 102 years.