Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Paul Bunyan Reborn

I know that I had told you that I'd be providing my thoughts on Puzzle Quest, but instead I have a tale of an epic battle of man vs. tree. Well, man vs. stump anyways.

We're in the process of having some landscaping redone in our backyard and part of this effort involved the removal of a pear tree that had been voted "Ugliest Tree Ever" something like 17 years in a row. It was an ugly tree dynasty. The landscape company that we had remove the tree apparently felt that the removal of the stump didn't fall under their jurisdiction, and instead left it sitting out in the yard. Knowing full well that you can't put sod on a stump and expect the grass to take, and also knowing that I didn't want a stump sitting out in the middle of the grass just waiting to trip up children and break their wee little ankles, the stump removal task fell to me.

I did some research online on stump removal and found that it is possible to use various chemicals or combinations of household products, including powdered milk to rot the stump away naturally. Basically you drill some holes in the stump, pour your foul brew down into the holes, sit back and wait 2 to 3 years as some sort of fungus takes root and slowly eats away the tree. I don't have that kind of time, nor do I have any powdered milk, so clearly this wasn't the best course of action.

When chemicals and powdered milk aren't the answer to life's problems, it usually falls to good, old fashioned physical labor. Wow, I actually managed to type that with a straight face. While physical labor may be old fashioned, I hardly consider it "good", but what other choice did I have?

I found a strategy online which, on paper, sounded good, but in practice was a fucking waste of time. The idea is that you dig a trench about 2 feet around the stump, and about a foot deep and cut any roots you find. The idea here is that the roots get smaller as they move away from the tree thereby easier to break. This idea is bullshit. Yes, technically, the roots I found were 4.95 inches thick 2 feet from the stump, and 5 inches wide where they met the stump, however what this strategy doesn't consider is the roots that move down, diagonally so that 2 feet out and 1 foot deep doesn't uncover them. You then merrily go around the stump hatcheting roots and generally making your hand/wrist/arm feel like someone hit it repeatedly with a cinder block until you think you've broken them all. Then you go to move the stump and it doesn't go anywhere. I mean nowhere. It doesn't even move, like, a millimeter. I mean, I've kicked walls that have moved more than this fucking thing.

So, now that you've gone all the way around the damn thing, what's left? Well, you go and find a pickaxe, technically a mattock, and start going under the roots. The idea here was that if I have a stump with a 2 foot long, 5 inch thick root connected to it, and I can get under the root, I can use the root as leverage to pry the stump from its resting place. What ended up happening was that as I used my mattock to dig under the massive roots, all I found was more fucking roots. Each one was bigger and more stalwart than the past. Imagine someone took some kind of mutant, 16 limbed octopus, petrified it and then buried it in my backyard. This is what I was dealing with.

About an hour later, I had finally, finally, busted through every goddamn root connected to this fucking thing. I didn't know this until I swung the mattock for the last time, burying it deep under the stump, and gave the handle what would end up being one of my final pulls. The stump that had, up until this point, been completely unmovable, gave an inch. Then, when I pulled some more, it gave two. Then it gave three. Then, with a final, incredibly manly pull, I wrenched the stump out of the ground and held it aloft to the heavens. Ok, so I didn't hold it aloft as it weighs like 40 pounds, but I did bend over, huffed and puffed and said something like "Oh thank God." Then I tried to locate my testicles as all of this hard labor had made them migrate up into my liver.

Once I found them, I went inside, got my phone and took some pictures to commemorate my epic victory.
This first picture has me standing over my vanquished foe, and while I like the foreboding feel of my shadow, I realized after taking the picture, my shadow makes it very hard to see what I'm standing over. Maybe it's the stump, maybe it's a chest of pirate booty, maybe it's the dessicated remains of that insurance salesman who stopped by a few years ago and never moved on.

This second one shows the full weight of my effort. Next to the stump is my trusty mattock. I call him, "Mattock".

Now, all that's left is for the landscape guy to haul it away when he comes to clear out some other crap. I'll be damned if I'm going to haul the blasted thing up to the curb. He'll also need to fill in the hole with some dirt, but I think that's a small price to pay compared to the herculean task I undertook to remove Stumpzilla from the yard. A small price, indeed.


Bones said...

I was just telling Cathie the other day, you know you're getting old when you actually care what your yard looks like. I absolutely detest yard work, but for some reason have become terrified of having the worst looking yard on my street. The past two off-call weekends I've had, I've done yard work on friday and saturday. Insanity!

Congrats on vanquishing Stumpzilla!

suburbanjoe said...

I care most about what my wife thinks. My backyard could be on fire for all I care. ;)