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Tree Butchers


We belong to an electric co-op out here in the country.  Periodically, they move through the countryside and trim out the trees that are beginning to impinge on the electric lines.  It's a good thing since one of the big impacts of the hurricanes and other storms that produce high winds here in Texas is trees getting knocked down and breaking electric lines.  It mostly happens in the heat of the year and no power for several weeks in the summer here would be pretty awful.  Food spoiled, no water, no ability to sleep when the temperature hovers around 90 even at night.  Yeah, pretty awful.

The down side of this tree trimming can be seen on just about any stretch of country road.  Trees are cut back to a vertical line some feet inside the perimeter fence.  Looks like some strange Lazar just sliced through the trees.  It's horrible.  I think I always assumed that if the land owner was standing there when the tree trimming crew arrived most of the horrible trim jobs could be averted.  I know I assumed that the tree trimming crews had some tree trimming training and one of their goals was to leave the trees looking as nice as they could.  How could I have been so wrong?

We knew the crews were working in our area.  Just half a mile down the road was one tree growing on the fence line that the crew took all the way to the ground.  All they left  was a haphazard pile of fire wood.  So it was not a surprise when we received a visit from a young man from the tree trimming crew.  He and my husband walked the front of our property to assess the trees.  Only three of our trees grow near or under the power lines along the road.  According to this young man the pine tree would need one limb trimmed, the elm tree would need several feet pruned off the top and the live oak would loose a couple of limbs.  OK.  We can live with that.

Several weeks later we can hear the tree trimming crew coming down the road.  They have an interesting tracked vehicle with a long arm that ends in a wicked looking saw blade.  They took down all the trash trees that had grown up outside our fence at the end of our pasture.  I liked those trees as a screen from the road but expected them to come down.  Now the ponies can watch traffic passing by.  I don't know if they like it or not but it didn't bother me.  Then the blade started in on my oak tree.  I ran to find Ron so we could go and watch the progress.  I wasn't  thinking about the potential need to throw myself bodily in front of the blade.  Ron headed over to the tree and I ran to grab the camera.  When I got to the tree I was shocked.  They had nearly hacked the tree in half.  I was livid.  Think of cutting a piece of broccoli in half.

I would have been more politically correct if words had truly failed me when I saw the tree.  However, words did not fail me and I threw a fair number of them at the young man who jumped out of his truck and scooted over to me when he saw how furious I was.   It was, in fact the same young man that my husband had walked the fence line with.  This was not a case of one person not understanding what was really going to happen to my trees.  It was more a case of them purposefully downplaying what was going to happen.  OK.  They lied to us about what was going to happen.  Two limbs my great Aunt Gertrude. 

I suggested since he had already butchered my tree, they ought to just take in the ground and give it a nice funeral.  OK.  That is a slightly cleaned up version.  Ron touched my shoulder at that point and I turned on my heel and stormed into the house.  Ron came in sometime later and told me I was formidable.  That was a lot nicer than telling me I had been way off base and should clean up my language.  But he knew something I didn't.  The tree guys hadn't touched one more limb on the oak tree and had moved on to the pine tree removing only one small limb.  They took several feet off the top of the elm tree in the corner and had moved on up the street to butcher our neighbor's trees.

Of course, the next day they came back and took the elm tree to the ground but they didn't do any more damage to the pine tree.

Here is what I've learned about all this.  The next time I will have my own tree trimmers on hand to do a better job with any trees that need to be adjusted.  I don't care what it costs.  OK.  I do care what it costs but I'm willing to anti up a fair chunk of change to have my trees not look scalped.  It was incredibly naive of me to think these guys had any interest at all in how my trees looked when they were finished.  In these tough economic times I'm sure their marching orders are to get out there and get as much trimmed as possible today.  I probably would have been less explosive if this didn't all happen on the day my dog died.  It was a bad day on several fronts.  And I am not an advocate of never trimming trees.  Most trees need to be trimmed in general and the ones unlucky enough to be growing under power lines need to be trimmed too.  Just not like this.

My tree guys are trying to schedule a day to come out and do what they can for my oak tree.  They won't be able to put any limbs back on the tree but I'm hoping they can help the tree look less butchered.