PHOTO: Daniel Johnson
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September 24, 2019

Generally, I encourage hobby farmers to be self-sufficient. A DIY attitude can carry you a long way, and if you can save some time and expense (or both) by tackling a project yourself, you’ll reap the reward of your savings while simultaneously enjoying the satisfaction of a job well done.

But some projects simply don’t make sense for hobby farmers to tackle on their own. While you might can technically handle the job, that doesn’t mean it’s worth your time and effort. In some cases, you’re better off calling in a professional.

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A great example? Cutting down large trees. Maybe you’re handy with a chainsaw and have successfully brought down the occasional 20-foot spruce tree growing in an odd location. This is laudable, but it probably took you a couple of hours to cut down the tree, saw off the branches, cut the trunk into sections, then clean it all up. Keep in mind also that a 20-foot spruce tree really isn’t that big.

Hiring a professional tree service to remove large trees might be more expensive than doing it yourself, but the skill and equipment such a company brings to the job can’t be overstated. Recently, we called in a tree service to take down a decrepit white pine in our yard. We worried that it was becoming a hazard. We also had the service take down a few smaller trees as well as a large dead section on another white pine. This dead section seemed particularly tricky because it was located about 25 feet up the tree—well out of reach for a hobby farmer with a chainsaw.

The tree service sent a crew of five men thoroughly equipped to handle any situation. They visited one afternoon with a boom lift truck, a compact utility tractor with a hydraulic grapple, and a grapple truck—essentially a dump truck with a hydraulic grapple for loading.

When the crew members started the jobs, it was a sight to behold. Working quickly, they cut down the dead pine tree and sawed it into pieces, using their utility tractor to stack the branches in a loose pile near the grapple truck. In turn, the grapple truck cleaned up the pile in large bites, while the compact utility tractor promptly carted the remaining 8-foot logs to our tractor-driven sawmill, where we’ll turn them into lumber.

Meanwhile, the boom lift truck elevated another worker with a chainsaw to start work on the other white pine. By carefully maneuvering the lift, the worker cut down the dead section in pieces—that way, this huge chunk of the tree didn’t have to come crashing down all at once from a height of 25 feet.

Truthfully, it was like watching a whirlwind. In a matter of hours, the workers had felled three trees plus sections of two other trees. What’s more, they had cleaned up all the debris—leaving us with a tidy lawn—and had prepped all the logs in convenient eight-foot sections for use in our sawmill.

In my mind, hiring these professionals was worth every penny. Because they had the training, the experience and the tools, they could quickly and safely handle a massive task that would have taken me days (maybe even weeks) to tackle on my own. Time is valuable, especially for busy hobby farmers, so this was a big savings. Also, that dead section halfway up the white pine would still be there, because I never would have found a way to bring it down safely.

Unless, of course, I decided to buy my own boom lift truck … hmm, now there’s an idea.

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