Monday, November 10, 2008

So long, Ol' Coney

Folks, we experienced a loss today here at Casa de Hawg.

We bought our house here in scenic Benton, Ark., a couple of years ago and it came with two of the largest pine trees I've ever seen. The one in the back yard was dubbed Ol' Coney by me and my wife called the one in the front yard Ol' Piney (I told her the name I came up with great and the one she developed was, well, not).

Now, those pine trees are old. How old? I do believe they hung Yankee spies from them during the War Between the States.

Well, maybe not that old. But they were around 100 years old, and that's pretty aged when it comes to pine trees.

Unfortunately, those two wonderful trees were so old and tall that Ol' Coney got struck by lightening at least twice and Ol' Piney got hit once. Those two trees are the highest points in the neighborhood and lightening strikes around here are common as there are magnetic deposits in the bedrock around here.

So, Ol' Piney was dying and could have fallen on the house one day. Ol' Coney was in poor shape, too, so we had them both cut down today. That's just sad, really, particularly when you consider those huge trees were so hard to take down that they took a black walnut tree and some scrubby tree my kids used to climb out with them.

Sadly, I don't have any decent pictures of the trees -- they were just too big to photograph effectively.

Is there a point to all this rambling? Why, yes there is! I've learned a few things from our tree removal experience:

1. Keep an eye on those trees. I didn't know Ol' Piney was on his last legs until we had some limbs cut off earlier this year and the tree guy pointed out the extensive damage to the pine. Had he not warned us of that damage, I have a feeling the tree would have fallen through my roof one day.

I have never been in the habit of looking for damage to my trees. I sure as heck am now.

2. Insurance companies can be difficult, but they can be persuaded. We're insured by Allstate, which I was starting to believe acted more like a collection agency than an insurance company. Why? We initially called about having our home insurance pay to remove the trees, but were told that they weren't covered.

"If a tree falls through my roof, will you repair my house?" I asked.

"Yes," the Allstate person replied.

"But you won't pay to cut down a tree that's dying and could fall through my roof."

"No we won't," was the reply.

That struck me as odd. However, the insurance company eventually did agree to send some money to remove the trees. The lesson here is that insurance companies don't want to pay anything initially, but they can be convinced to change their minds. Remember that if you have a tree that needs to be removed.

3. Big trees tear up things when they are cut down. My yard looks like hell right now and, as I mentioned, we lost two trees other than the pines that we wanted removed. We all know that there's a certain group out there that thinks cutting down a tree is almost as bad as killing a person.

Ignore them. Removing those trees before they get so huge that getting rid of them is a problem is a great idea. Had our pines been cut down before they got too large to handle, two healthy trees in our yard would have been spared and my yard wouldn't look like the surface of the moon right now.

The tree guys swear they'll be back in the morning to clean up most of the mess. I sure hope so. I felt like I was walking through a war zone when I came home today as wood chips, pine needles, limbs and sawdust was everywhere.

4. Huge trees can tear up things when they're growing, too. Ol' Piney was right next to my driveway and the root system has just about ruined the end of my driveway. It doesn't cost much to repair a driveway, but what if one of those trees was too close to my house? Driveways are cheap to fix, but repairing a foundation isn't.

5. It costs a lot of money to remove huge trees. How much? About $3,000 to cut down both of those trees. The insurance company didn't cover all of that, either (they contributed $1,000).

That really makes sense. There were four people sent out to cut down our trees, so they have to be paid. Also, there's a lot of heavy equipment involved and that stuff is expensive to run. The crew also had to take down part of our privacy fence to get to the trees, and they'll have to put it back, too.

The whole operation will take two days. The trees are down, but there's a lot of cleanup involved.

There's yet another reason to consider taking out those trees before they get too big.

6. Cutting down those native trees means we can plant some that we like better. We have no shortage of pine trees here in Arkansas. I don't think they're particularly attractive, but that could be because this part of the country is dominated by them. They're common as sin, see?

With Ol' Piney and Ol' Coney gone, my wife and I are free to replace them with some trees that we like better. Perhaps a magnolia tree or a willow would work out well.

In other words, we're losing two huge, ugly pine trees and we can replace them with whatever we want. That's not altogether bad.

Regardless, I'll miss my pine trees a bit. The size of those things was impressive. However, I'm glad I don't have to worry about one of them falling through my home or crushing a neighbor's house and I look forward to picking out some new trees with my wife.

All in all, then, it hasn't been a bad day.

Update! The jerks that cut down my trees managed to mangle my parents' house! Click right here to read all about it.


la said...

Oooo, yeah, Magnolia or Willow, both nice trees!

Do you have a fireplace? Maybe you could sell the firewood. Granted, it's not as expensive in Ark, but still.

That's good to know about the insurance company. said...

Ha! Ha! Ha!

Ethan, only you could ramble poetically about the removal of trees!

Before moving to Arkansas, I lived in eastern North Carolina. I have experienced many a hurricane that took down trees and made the area look like a war zone - or even the "surface of the moon."

Too funny!

The Natural State Hawg said...

la -- Well, there's a couple of problems with that. Pine makes awful firewood and these trees are HUGE. I'd hate to be the one to split that thing into firewood.

Paul -- Ah, these are impressive trees, Paul. I'll miss them.

However, it's good they won't come crashing through my roof and I can replace them with some more desirable trees.

Hmm. We could use the stump in the back as a picnic table, too.

Sherry Martschink said...

I'm not what people would call a tree-hugger, but I love trees. What a magnificent part of nature. Along with a magnolia as a replacement, consider a dogwood, red maple, pear - oh, the list of beautiful trees is endless.

Da Old Man said...

Mr. The Hawg, I never knew your cat naming ability also extended into tree naming. Ol' Coney is inspired.

The Natural State Hawg said...

Sherry -- After the morons who cut down my trees dumped a pine on top of my parents house, I now consider my blank yard a blessing. The "no trees" option is sounding very good right now.

Da Old Man -- Thanks! That name tickled me.