Completely Unnecessary Update. With Pictures.

I Suppose I could come up with some metaphorical or even allegorical use of a story about chopping out an old root of a tree long dead, the presence of which brought progress to a halt, about how impossible it seemed until the rot was exposed, and – lame. Not sure it’s any lamer than just telling the story….

I think I’m ready for a little sissified organizing stuff type home improvement project, one you can do mostly sitting down. All manly-ed out for the moment. Recap: Sunday, got up early when it was cool out to excavate a few inches along the front of the property where I’ll put in a brick walk, and dig some trenches behind it for some small footings for a wall/ planter thing. Next steps on the Eternal Brick Project. Made good progress.

As the intrepid, not easily bored reader may recall from a couple blog posts ago, I ran into a root. A walnut root about a foot wide, partly blocking one corner of the footer trench:

Hard to get a sense of scale, and it’s mostly buried in this pic.

My attempts to remove it on Sunday were failures: it wasn’t going anywhere until I dug around it, figured out its full extent and what was holding it to the ground. One end was not too far from where the tree stood, and so was likely detached from where we’d had the stump and major roots ground. (Guess they missed one.) The other end ran more or less toward the street, so chances are we’d detached it already, more or less, when we did the last round of bricklaying. But was going to need to dig to find out.

So I got up bright and early, went to early mass, grabbed a cup of coffee – and stalled until about 10:00. My spirit was willing and stupid; my flesh was less willing and wise. Spirit, being eternal and all, refuses to recognize I’m a 61 year old man – what is 61 years measured against eternity? Flesh, on the other hand, remembers, mostly in its arm muscles, what is involved in chopping out a root of that size. Eventually, enthusiasm overcame wisdom, and I grabbed my good ax, sharpened that baby up, grabbed a pry bar and shovel, and went to work.

Dug all around. Seems it was attached to branching roots in four places, had a parallel much smaller but still significant root running along one side (and thus in the way), but was, as expected, more or less detached on the end toward where the tree had stood. The biggest branch root ran more or less toward the street.

All that took about 10 minutes. The strategy: chop out the parallel root, chop out the obvious branching roots, then try the pry bar and see what happens. Best case, it comes loose; worst case, there are one or more roots heading down from the main root, where chopping them out will be involved.

A nice sharp ax is a good tool and fun to use, but it still requires that whole swinging thing.

I lasted maybe 15 minutes, until I had an almost involuntary ‘I have to sit down’ moment. But before I gave up, I tried the pry bar and, unlike Sunday, the thing moved! Progress! But more work ahead. The earth around it and the box containing the water meter also moved, indicating the root was still anchored somewhere, so just trying to manhandle it out seemed unwise. I don’t imagine utility companies laugh off breaking one of their meter boxes.

Seemed only the street-facing end was still attached – but it was good and attached.

Much more exposed, with ax for scale! I’ve chopped out branches on the left, right, and top, but have a serious root still holding at the bottom.

Later that afternoon, decided to try again. Dug out around the edges, identified where I’d need to cut to free it up on the street side and near the water meter box. *Carefully* chopped it lose, and tried the pry bar again.

Seriously rotted out on the underside – phew! Would have been murder if it were as wide and solid all the way down as it was on top. Still weighed enough that it took some effort to move it.

And out it came! Seems to have been much wider and more solid on the top than on the bottom, which seems to have rotted out a bit since we had the tree removed 4 years ago. There are one or two much smaller branch roots which head off under where the path goes, which I should remove now rather than waiting for them to rot out and cause the brick walk to sag in a few years – no concrete under the path, just gravel and sand.

Lamest update ever. I felt good about getting that thing out without the help of my strappin’ male offspring (who would have helped, but were unavailable). Now for some more digging, some forms, some rebar, and some concrete. Then maybe rearrange a drawer or something.

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Author: Joseph Moore

Enough with the smarty-pants Dante quote. Just some opinionated blogger dude.

5 thoughts on “Completely Unnecessary Update. With Pictures.”

  1. Best blog update. Next time you drop a tree, with the intention of removing the trunk and root sometime, use the chainsaw to cut hashmarks into the top, and it will rot and weaken pretty fast. Hat-tip to my brother-in-law.

  2. Oh, thank goodness.

    I “got” to dig out the post hole digger this weekend. (Dear husband has a bad back, and STILL out lifts me like a champ, but can’t kneel and dig. Sharp learning curve.)

    Once we figured out how it works (we’re both from rocky country, a two person digger would be crazy there, and no clay at home) we got eight holes in a half hour, but that learning curve was wicked.

    The only stump we have to deal with is obvious softwood, decades old.

      1. I have absolutely no idea.

        The only posthole drills I’m familiar with were on the back of tractors– Elf said that he was familiar with some sort of a one-person setup, and this one said it was 70-some pounds without the drill.

        I just know once we got it going, it was ludicrous.

        Also, that I am sore and want to whine. 😀

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