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Front Page » August 27, 2013 » Opinion » Staff Column
Published 424 days ago

Staff Column


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By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate publisher

Messy trees from the planet hell

When my wife and I bought our present home we envisioned places on the property where we could have the things we wanted. She wanted lots of flowers and trees. I wanted a place to keep all the junk I intended on accumulating and trees.

We both got lots of trees. Now more than we can deal with.

Standing in my backyard one could swear that the were somewhere in the mid west or on the east coast. No rocky cliffs are visible from there when looking south from our patio. The grass is green and vegetation is everywhere. When my youngest son lived at home one of his friends commented that the place looked like a park. We do love it.

But you can get too much of a good thing, especially when the good thing is the wrong thing.

In this case it is the Heavenly (or Paradise) trees that were planted long before we moved in. Or should I say a single Heavenly tree that was planted right behind the house. That single tree was a large tree when we moved in 15 years ago. Since then, through it seeds, it has propagated itself numerous times. Around the mother of all trees there is a forest of small trees. I can handle that; but across the two acres that I have there are sprouts everywhere. I pull them out daily.

As a kid Chinese Elms (or as some call them Siberian Elms) were always the weed trees. Their seeds spread like wildfire and they came up faster than you could spot them. These too are a problem at my place. In June they spread their seeds around, which mixed with the cotton from the Silver Cottonwoods that are also on the property. Between the seeds from all three kinds of trees, the fountain in front of our house became plugged, one of my vehicles took in so many that the air cleaner was covered and they seem to be permanently stuck in my nose when I go out to work anywhere in the yard.

I have considered taking out a large can of herbicide and committing herbocide on the trees, but there is a problem with that as well.

I do have some wonderful trees in my yard too. Lots of pinions, various fruit trees and even some real docile shade trees.

So committing a massacre on all that grows on the place is not my intention.

I have also noticed that I have five dead trees on the property, which I plan on dealing with this fall. Some are the result of old age, some is my fault. When we switched a few years ago from flood irrigation to sprinkling on a secondary system, many of those trees have not gotten the water they need and with the dry conditions in the last two years they have finally given up the ghost.

But let's get back to the Paradise trees. Saturday morning, early, I decided to take on a grove of them. It was cool and nice and I donned my gloves and some eye protection, pulled out the chain saw and the pruners and began to hack away. They were falling left and right. But I was attempting nothing big at that point. I pulled bundles of them down past the horse corral and dumped them on other branches I have pruned this summer with the intent of burning all of them when we get to open burn season in November.

The small ones went down easy in the face of determination and hard cold steel. Then I attacked a seven inch diameter tree. You have to understand; these things are brittle and temperamental. You can easily pull out six or seven inch trees of this kind by the roots. But when they get big they are like rubber that has the consistency of wood. I got about half way through the trunk and the tree ate my chain saw. The pressure from above molded itself around the bar and it stuck. It wouldn't move back or forth. I finally took a wedge and pounded it into the gap I had created with the saw to take off the pressure and got the bar out. But that tree had broken the clutch on the saw.

This wasn't the first time one of these trees from Hell had eaten one of my tools. I have lost many a hand blade in one. These are nasty plants which at times will dry out some of there offspring with the intention of poking you in the eye when you are walking through them. They also have very stinky leaves. They don't smell like a dead animal, but not far from it.

Over the years as I cut branches from trees I have often thrown them over the fence for my goats to eat. My goats will eat almost anything, and if they don't eat it they at least destroy it. They eat the stiff pine needles from my conifers. They will eat Russian Olive branches full of their famous needles which will go right through a pair of leather gloves. But they will not eat Paradise tree leaves unless they have no alternative.

So with that I was pretty much done for the day. A year old chain saw broken and pruners which had been dulled out by their thick skin ended most of my work.

However, I couldn't leave that one tree half cut. I knew that it would wait for just the right time to crack and fall, probably on a car or vehicle of some type. I hacked at where I had cut part way through with an ax for 10 minutes and finally the tree fell. In the process of doing this managed to drop the ax on my foot once, break a bird house that was hanging behind me (to big a swing) and when the tree fell it landed on some solar night lights I had put out. They to were destroyed.

With no easy way to cut up the fallen plant, I hooked my four wheeler to it and dragged it down to the pasture to get it out of the way.

There is no getting around it. These trees are the scourge of the earth. I think they may have come from an alien planet.

Finally I walked away for the day, toward my garage, with my broken chain saw in hand.

And as I did it, I swear I could hear the still standing Paradise trees laughing at me.

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August 27, 2013
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