Thursday, April 28, 2011

Widow Maker Neatly Dropped

Widow maker is a term lumberjacks use to describe a tree that failed to fall to the ground.  The crown remains hung up in another tree and the base remains partly attached to what will become the stump.  Forces on a widow maker make its behavior unpredictable.  An attempt to free it may cause it to violently snap in any direction taking the lumberjack with it.

Violent storms sent the rivers and streams into the fields and over the roads.  Tornadoes, rare here, made a farmers equipment barn disappear leaving no trace of its components.  We were lucky.  One broken branch hung up in the tree was our only storm issue.  First, a rope is placed over the branch.  A stone of proper shape and mass is tied to the end of the rope.  An underhanded girlie throw sends the stone and rope over the branch.  Flick the end of the rope and the stone with its rope slowly approaches the ground.  Discard the stone and fasten the ends of the rope.  Draw the loop tight and pause to consider the next move.

With luck the branch will fall.  Careful thought will place the rope puller a safe distance from the landing site.  This branch was firmly stuck in the tree.  The butt end was still partially attached and an elbow near the end of the branch was solidly over another branch. After two tries a third position, identified by Becky from quite a distance away, proved to be workable.  Several tugs got the branch really swinging.  It freed itself and fell harmlessly across the lane.

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