Category Archives: arborists

The Red House renovation continues

 

DSC_3748When I found Miss Hague’s letters and checks I dropped into the research rabbit hole to find out what I could about her. I came across a considerable amount of information that will make a fun and interesting post one day, but now it is time to get back to writing about all the work we have done on the red house.

There is a lot to document as I  catch up with this blog. The project is not a sprint, but more like a marathon and today I feel our renovation is at the 20 mile marker, so close and yet still so far to go. Kind of like this spring.

I have been scrolling through the hundreds of photographs I have taken and it is an astounding reminder of all the work we have poured into this renovation, and how much progress we have made.

I wonder how to condense it all, without driving everyone, including me, to boredom. Pictures help but…..In my writing workshops with Michelle Gillett I have been working on  a new writing style-condensing a ten year period of time to only two pages using short, three word sentences. I think it is a really cool exercise and thought I would use it to try to capture the renovation progress of three months, October, November and December,into three word sentences, with photos of course.

I hope it works. It should be an easy read.

The renovation continues.

Plaster is removed

Lath is removed.

It is dusty

Insulation is bagged

Bags and bags of old insulation...ick
Bags and bags of old insulation…ick

Windows come out

We could not restore the corner windows in the master bedroom. This is the beginning of reframing and opening up the corner for more dramatic windows.
We could not restore the corner windows in the master bedroom. This is the beginning of reframing and opening up the corner for more dramatic windows.
We could not restore this window in the living room either- too much rot from water damage
We could not restore this window in the living room either- too much rot from water damage

Floors are removed

The original wide plank floor boards in the kitchen are carefully removed one by one so they can be restored.   The opaque white bubbles that can be seen in the photograph are the particles of dust and old insulation flying around- definitely respirator worthy.
The original wide plank floor boards in the kitchen are carefully removed one by one so they can be restored. The opaque white bubbles that can be seen in the photograph are the particles of dust and old insulation flying around- definitely respirator worthy.
These are the original wide plank floor boards stacked and ready for repurpose
These are the original wide plank floor boards stacked and ready for repurpose

 

Basement has dirt

Dig out dirt

The floors removed in the original two rooms of the house. Underneath is a small basement space , but mostly crawl space and dirt which had to be removed.
The floors removed in the original two rooms of the house. Underneath is a small basement space , but mostly crawl space and dirt which had to be removed.

 

Plywood is laid

The kitchen in the red house. Plywood down, and new framing. Note the make shift supports like lally columns to hold up the house.
The kitchen in the red house. Plywood down, and new framing. Note the make shift supports like lally columns to hold up the house.

Walls come down

Writing is discovered

When we broke through the wall separating two bedroom upstairs we discovered writing on the walls...turns out the room had always been one room, but the family who lived in the house put a wall up so each of their daughters would not have to share a bedroom.
When we broke through the wall separating two bedroom upstairs we discovered writing on the walls…turns out the room had always been one room, but the family who lived in the house put a wall up so each of their daughters would not have to share a bedroom. This is Tara’s autograph wall circa 1986

 

Walls are re framed

Framing the new kitchen wall. Before the space looking straight ahead to the door was a make shift laundry room and hallway.
Framing the new kitchen wall. Before the space looking straight ahead to the door was a make shift laundry room and hallway.
Framing in the hallway, bath and laundry, and "gallery" space by front door
Framing in the hallway, bath and laundry, and “gallery” space by front door

New windows are framed

Back to one room- On the far left you can make out the original roof line of the salt box.
Back to one room- On the far left you can make out the original roof line of the salt box.

Tree work begins

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Then it snows

The front entrance room, plywood down for floors, and new framing
The front entrance room, plywood down for floors, and new framing and snow…………..

We are frustrated

Arborist is undaunted

Caleb Turner getting prepared
Caleb Turner getting prepared

He is fearless

Caleb Turner in the trees
Caleb Turner in the trees

Locust is tall

Holding my camera in two hands, holding my breath watching Cal climb his way up into the tree
Holding my camera in two hands, holding my breath watching Cal climb his way up into the tree

Locust is rotten

Locust is removedIMG_2278_2

Basement is opened

The stairs down to the creepy basement. The foundation now opened to the outside
The stairs down to the creepy basement. The foundation now opened to the outside

Access is easier

The basement access now cleared for oil tank removal, new footings and all kinds of concrete.
The basement access now cleared for oil tank removal, new footings and all kinds of concrete.

 

Extricate oil tank

Happy Oil tank removers
Happy Oil tank removers

Snow is slippery

Slide tank out

The snow came in handy- sliding the oil tank down the hill
The snow came in handy- sliding the oil tank down the hill
Safe and sound
Safe and sound

 

 

Concrete truck arrives

The cement mixer arrives
The cement mixer arrives

Concrete is poured

 

December 31, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

Felling the trees, Caleb Turner, Arborist Extraordinaire

A slice of black locust
A slice of black locust

We had hoped there would be a fair amount of work we (well… more like Will) could do ourselves on the cottage. However, it would be hard to name a more dangerous DIY project than felling a big tree, and our trees weren’t just “big”. They towered 80-100 feet high over the house, growing right up through the phones lines. There’s the obvious risk of getting crushed by a falling tree. Trees can twist as they fall and make all kinds of other unexpected moves, especially if a random gust of wind appears. Add a chain saw to the mix, and—well, you get the idea. It’s not a job for the faint-of-heart. We were lucky Caleb Turner agreed to take on this project.

Local Wood Local Good
Local Wood
Local Good

Wisdom of Arborist

  • Never cut on a breezy day
  • It is easier to cut up a fallen tree if you do it when the leaves are missing
  • Grab the chain saw handle with an encircling thumb on your right hand and never release it during a cut.
  • Stay away from hollowed-out trees, especially if they’re big. They are extremely unpredictable and dangerous to fell.
  • Gas up the saw before beginning a cut. Never run out of gas halfway through a cut.
  • Once you start working, don’t stop until the tree is down. You don’t want the tree to fall while you’re taking a break.
What does an arborist wear??? Safety Gear!

Safety isn’t a throwaway word when it comes to felling trees and running chain saws.

You must take it seriously. There are a few absolutely essential safety gear items you need to wear for any chain saw work.

Loggers helmet: The helmet protects you from falling branches, a major cause of logging injuries. Earmuffs and a face screen protect your ears and eyes. Safety glasses keep the dust out—you don’t want something in your eye in the middle of dropping a 4-ft.-diameter cottonwood.

Kevlar chaps: Kevlar fibers will stop a chain instantly should you happen to drop the bar against your leg. It’s the best logging safety device developed in the past 30 years, and it’s a rare (and foolish) pro that doesn’t wear them.

Felling wedges: These wedges will prevent your saw from getting pinched during a cut.

Planning the cut or how to fell a tree

#1- Estimate the fell zone. Trees are taller than you think and reach farther on the ground than you’d expect (maybe all the way to your shed). You can estimate where a tree will fall by using the “ax handle trick.” Hold an ax handle at arm’s length, close one eye, and back away from or move toward the tree until the top of the ax is even with the treetop and the bottom even with the base. Your feet should be about where the treetop will rest after falling. It’s just an estimate, though, so allow extra room if there’s something it might fall on!

#2 Clear a cutting zone.

Even when you’re sure which way the tree is going to fall, you’re still not ready to fell it. Cut away any brush around the trunk and clear two escape routes on the “non-falling” side of the tree. They should be about 45 degrees away from each other in opposite directions. The last thing you want is to trip while walking away from a falling tree.

#3 Size up the tree

Start by studying the crown of the tree. Look for dead branches that are broken but attached, or actually broken off and supported by other branches. Don’t even think about cutting down the tree yourself if you see any danger upstairs. You’re bound to knock a branch loose and have it fall on you.

Next look at the lean and the branch loading. If it’s obviously leaning in one direction or heavily loaded with branches on one side, that’s the way it’s going to fall. Forget the myth that a pro can drop a tree on top of an empty beer can. If it’s perfectly straight and evenly loaded—maybe he’ll get close. But if it’s loaded or leaning, he won’t have a chance.

Are there any buildings, fences, power lines or other things you care about in the felling zone? If so, skip the felling and call a pro.

ENTER CALEB TURNER

arborist extraordinaire
arborist extraordinaire
Caleb Turner portrait of a tree guy
Caleb Turner portrait of a tree guy

 

Caleb Turner arrived with his crew on a very cold winter weekend to tackle the locust trees.

Caleb Turner- high up in the tree
Caleb Turner- high up in the tree
Caleb Turner with his trusty chainsaw- 80 feet high
Caleb Turner with his trusty chainsaw- 80 feet high
Caleb Turner in tree, communicating with the ground crew
Caleb Turner in tree, communicating with the ground crew
Caleb Turner on final stages of the cut before the tree falls
Caleb Turner on final stages of the cut before the tree falls
Caleb Turner, beginning the second cut
Caleb Turner, beginning the second cut


Tom Ingersoll’s
truck arrived to load up the felled trees.

Caleb Turner directing traffic when Tom Ingersoll of Ingersoll Land Care, Sheffield MA arrives on the scene
Caleb Turner directing traffic when Tom Ingersoll of Ingersoll Land Care, Sheffield MA arrives on the scene
The claw being guided by Caleb Turner
The claw being guided by Caleb Turner
Will Conklin operating the crane, removing the severed limbs
Will Conklin operating the crane, removing the severed limbs
Tom Ingersoll loading cut trees onto truck with big claw
Tom Ingersoll loading cut trees onto truck with big claw
Loading Tom Ingersoll's truck
Loading Tom Ingersoll’s truck

 

The final bite…

THE CLAW!
THE CLAW!

Finding Caleb Turner, arborist extraordinare

In front of the cottage there was a cluster of trees known as Black Locusts, ranging in height from 90-100 feet. They had shot up, soaring right in between the electric wires that ran from the telephone pole at the end of the driveway up the street.

Black locust cluster in front of cottage
Black locust cluster in front of cottage

 

The black locusts, 90-100 feet high, shooting up through the wires
The black locusts, 90-100 feet high, shooting up through the wires

 

One mighty gust of wind and the results could have been catastrophic…..take your pick, a crushed house, a black out, fatal injuries??? No thanks.

We called a few arborists in the area to see who could fell these trees. Not a one was eager to tackle the job, most didn’t have the kind of heavy equipment needed, and all were afraid to tackle the challenge of extracting the limbs from the wires and felling such enormous trees.

The common black locust (Robiniapsedoacacia) is a firmly entrenched member of the Commonwealth’s flora. Many people believe that is was present in the original forests of the state, however is not native to Massachusetts. There is no mention of the New England black locust in the earliest colonial records. It finally appears in the botanical writings of the late 1700s and mid 1800s, and is described as naturalized, most likely from Appalachia.

Black locusts trees are known for their rapid growth, reaching as much as 100 feet in height, even in poor soil. Black locusts are considered invasive and are hard to eliminate. This tree can send up new sprouts from roots and yes, even stumps. The wood is extremely hard, resistant to rot and very durable- perfect for boat building, flooring, and fence posts. It is also highly valued as firewood, especially for wood burning stoves because it burns slowly and has high heat content. Black locusts are a hearty and can survive drought and harsh winters.

black locust bark
black locust bark

But they couldn’t stay in front of the cottage.

We contacted National Grid who agreed to come and take the trees down. Unfortunately the miserable weather this winter interfered and they didn’t make much headway. High winds, sub zero temperatures and then the mighty snow halted their progress after a few of the limbs had been pruned over the course of an afternoon or two.

And so we waited for the weather to improve, and for National Grid to return.

They never did.

And then we called Caleb Turner, arborist extraordinaire from Housatonic, MA.

photo-54