Merton LaBare (Sole Proprietor) Kennett Square, Pa.

I was contacted in mid-September by a repeat customer of mine. He was worried about a dead tree falling on his neighbor’s house and garage. Before I was called the last time, a large red oak had uprooted and taken out the neighbor’s deck and part of their kitchen. So, he had a right to be worried. When I arrived, I found the dead oak 10 feet from the neighbor’s planting bed and about 20 feet from their garage.

With one lead of the tree leaning toward the garage, I decided that I had best hire a crane to piece the tree out, as rigging from the decayed wood would be extremely hazardous. There was very little space to land the material, and even less space for the crane.

Beginning the job.

The earliest I could get the crane was October 23. As the week went on, the forecast was not looking good. They were calling for heavy rains and high winds, so we had to reschedule for November 1.

November 1 was an early morning, loading up at 6:30 a.m., in the dark. We got to the job by 7:30, as the sun was just beginning to come up. We needed to clear an area to land the brush and wood, as the crane was to arrive at 8.

We completed the clearing just as the crane arrived, allowing us to focus on squeezing the crane in. Once in place, we set the crane up and tested the footing and the reach. With the crane set and ready to go, I began to set up my climbing system and hook it onto the cable above the ball, as recommended.

Once in the tree, I removed several limbs that would possibly fall on my head when the larger piece was picked. I then put two slings on the first piece to be removed, slid down to where I was going to cut it, and tied in with my lanyard. I pulled my rope from the friction saver, as not to be on the crane while under load, and tied it into the tree for a second tie-in. I positioned myself under a large limb with my second tie-in so that if anything broke from the top when the pick moved, I would be protected. I cut the piece free and worked my way around the backside of the tree so the crane operator could lower the piece down next to the trunk.

First cut. Setting chokers.

By 9:45 we had all of the brush off of the tree and only three picks of wood remaining. With a four-hour minimum for the crane, I decided to continue to pick the wood so we could position it best to be processed into firewood.

Is there enough space?

The crane operator left by 10:30, and all that remained was to cut the wood to length and do a little raking up. We finished out the day cleaning up the equipment and called it a short day. All went well, the tree was on the ground, chipped up and no one got hurt—and that’s what I call a successful day.

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