Friday, October 27, 2006

Anatomy of an Elm Removal

I’ve never blogged about my job as an arborist. I’m sure you know I’m in the tree care industry and own a (very) small business, Sycamore Tree Care. My idea for the name comes from the Bible. Zachius wanted to see Jesus as he was coming through town, so he climbed a sycamore tree. I figured any tree that someone climbs to see Jesus is a good tree for me. And as you’ll see, I’ve climbed some big trees.

So this is an elm tree on the east side of Madison (Academy Drive for those of you keeping score at home). On Wednesday this week I spent 5+ hours in this tree and we got probably 2/3 of it done. The pictures start with the second day.

So here’s the base and top of the tree – 24ft. ladder. It’s hard to get an idea how big it is until you see me in it. The line I’m attached to is my climb line. The red line is what I’m climbing on and the blue line is our lowering line. The winch system from the first picture helps us to lift limbs that are over the power lines.

When I got into position the second day, I looked to the west and found the Capital building between two oak trees. People, this is a view no one sees except climbing arborists, and trust me – the pictures don’t do it justice. Click on these and blow them up - the second one has an arrow of the building)

So I spent another five hours in the tree and finally, I’m done with all the branches. Just wood to deal with now.


I’d love to show you the 31 pictures I took of Mike making the notch and bringing this 66 year old elm to the ground, but I’ll spare you the details and give you the highlights.

The notch is cut.

The rope actually helps us pull that big thing over (est. at over 10,000 pounds).

(click on this picture to see the rope)

Eric tells Mike how much further to go on his back-cut. If the saw gets meets (and violates) the notch, the tree could go backwards (not good).

Perfect notch, perfect cut, good pull - the anatomy of an elm removal.

Monday, October 23, 2006


Well, it’s officially been three weeks since I’ve blogged. My bad. I can’t really put a finger on what’s been keeping me away. You know the deal – life gets busy. So here’s what I’ll do. I’ll give a quick recap of Oct. 1-23:Friday Oct. 6 – went to Verona’s Homecoming game as they beat McFarland. I can’t even begin to describe how much I miss high school football.

Saturday Oct. 7 – took Katie to New Glarus for Octoberfest. Small-town festival, great beer, and a butcher that sold us pineapple brats. And then we found an antique shop (think Door County – Archives June 4, for those of you keeping score at home). We bought some beer mugs and old Life magazines from the ‘70s.

Monday (Oct. 9) we got very sad news that my grandpa died in the hospital (mom’s dad). This was unexpected so it really took the family by surprise. I had a surreal feeling that afternoon when Katie picked me up. In the stress of my life, I got in the car on the way to see the family and for a few hours, nothing mattered except family and memories of my grandpa. Sad, but thought provoking at the same time.

Tuesday Oct. 10Brett turned 37.

Friday Oct. 13 – we had one of Katie’s co-workers and her boyfriend over. Angela and Billy are really cool people who we hope to get to know better.

Saturday Oct. 14 – I went with Joel Dreier and Matt Ehn to Willy Porter. Joel and I have been to a few of these shows, but unfortunately the best guitar player we’ve ever experienced seems to be catering to an older crowd. Nice music, but not the same as it used to be.

Tuesday Oct. 17 – dad turned 53, so we celebrated at Tony Roma’s (get the honey-glazed ribs).

Saturday Oct. 21 – we had an Impact Day with our Life Group. We raked leaves and helped Kirk and Steph get their house ready for their baby. Then we went with a few friends to the Madison Food and Wine show. Free tickets, great time.

Well, that’s all folks. I really hope to get back on schedule soon here. As always, here's a picture to make this blog entry special.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Sue's Birthday - Devil's Lake

Madison has been my home for 10 years now. I jump at every opportunity to host friends and family here. So when my mother-in-law called and said she wanted to come to Madison, hike Devil’s Lake, and stay the weekend with us, I was shuffling through ideas for entertainment. Here’s what we came up with.

The team for the weekend was three couples: the hosts, the honoree (Sue and Steve), and her brother and his wife (Steve and Dawn). They arrived Saturday at 11:00. Katie cooked up some chili, I made a few sandwiches, and we had lunch. We jumped in the car with yours truly behind the wheel. We decided to fit all six into the 5-passenger vehicle. I took the picture (l. to r.) Steve, Katie, Sue, Steve’s hand, Dawn.

The drive was beautiful, as highway 12 had trees turning a few shades of orange, yellow and a couple reds. What excited me about this trip was that Katie and I were the only ones how had been to Devil’s Lake before – Steve and Sue, Steve and Dawn were Newbies! As Ski Hi Road winds around to the south shore, the drive through the woods was building anticipation. Finally we could see water, and around the next bend was the Lake. I can’t take any credit for its beauty, but as the tour guide I was sure proud of this park.

I put on my pack – what would a hike/climb be without my pack?!? Fully stocked with water, protein bars, and maps, I lead us to the trailhead. I have to admit, there was concern (from my wife) as to the rigorous nature of what this team was about to attempt. Although nervous about the process, I knew the final destination would be achieved and appreciated by all involved.

How can I describe the climb? It was a little tough because the majority of our group didn’t know what to expect. The nice thing about this climb is that it gets better and better as you get higher and higher. Soon you clear the tree line. Now you can get a decent look at the lake. Then the trail has more switchbacks and random trees that add a hiking element to the climb. At this point there’s more plateaus where we stopped and noticed our elevation and scenic vantage points as the lake got bigger and bigger. Here’s some pictures of the climb.

We made our way down the back side of the bluff, which is more gradual and scenic. To our delight, we came upon multiple groups of rock climbers. Coming from the top, we saw all their climbs set-up – straps, carabiners, and cams. We hiked around and saw them climbing from their base camp. There must have been 80 climbers there.

When we made it to the bottom, I was happy to see that there was a sense of accomplishment in the group. No one was hurt, no one was too tired, but all of us felt victory on this beautiful last day of September.

Back at the house, we were joined by Matt and Amanda for dinner. The special meal for the night was cooked by Sue’s brother, who enjoys gourmet cooking as a hobby. We had beef rib stew with Caesar salad with homemade dressing that was like no other. Dinner was followed up with a hysterical game of Mad Gab. In the morning we went to Blackhawk, again a Newbie experience for both visiting couples. And we ended Sue’s birthday weekend with brunch at the Great Dane. I could write so much more about this meal but it’s still sitting heavy in my gut so I’ll save the details.

It was a wonderful weekend to celebrate mom’s birthday. Devil’s Lake is more beautiful now that any other time of year. So if you’ve been to this blog before, you’re hearing this again – get to Devil’s Lake and see God’s beautiful creation.