Clean up: deadwood

It’s a hot day today, but it’s going to get even hotter throughout the week, hitting above 30C/86F in a few days. Plus, I’ll be doing a lot of driving throughout the week. I figured if my brother could be out baling hay in this heat today, I can prune some deadwood!

There were two trees in particular I wanted to get at. Here is the first I worked on.

I had already cut the dead parts of the main tree, our first summer here. What was left were the suckers growing out the base. As the main part was grafted, what grew out the base was not the same type of apple as what had already died.

When I first worked on it, the live parts were bending low, so I left tall stumps of the original tree and used them as supports to tie the live ones to. One, growing out the middle, didn’t need the support.

As you can see in the photo, that’s the one that is now dead.

It actually did have leaves and even flowers this spring, but they didn’t last. As I cut it away, I was surprised it managed even that much. It was so dead and dry, I could only cut about half way, and then it was easier to break it off by hand.

One of the live branches was hanging down again, even though part of it was supported, so I got creative.

I found what was probably an old mop handle and zip tied it to one of the old stumps at the bottom, and to another live branch higher up. Then I lifted the bent branch and attached it to the support. Hopefully, this will be enough for it to start growing straight – or at least straighter – on its own. If nothing else, I won’t be getting my hair caught in it when I mow past it, anymore!

The next tree was a bigger job.

I’d actually thought I would be working on an old plum tree, but it was another apple tree that needed help.

There are two large branches on the apple tree that have died. In the background, you can see the dark coloured plum tree meandering its way up. The branches are so tangled, it was hard to see what belonged were, but it seemed that the plum branch still had live branches and little plums at the top.

I would see better, after the apple was cleared.

I took the slightly smaller branch off first (on the left of the trunk, in the above photo) using the reciprocating saw, and it came down fairly well. The branches at the ends were tangled with live branches, so it ended up standing upright on its cut end when it fell. Once I cleared that, it was time to get the big one down.

When cutting larger branches like this, you always have to be careful when it gets past a certain point, depending on the angle and weight of the branch. Once it starts breaking under its own weight, things can go in unexpected directions.

This one was a bit different.

It didn’t fall.

You can see the one live branch growing out the side, so I made sure to cut above it.

I cut right through, and it just sat there!

Hmmm… I wonder why that would be…

The live plum and apple branches were holding it up!

There was a lot to get tangled on!

For this tree, I used pruning spray on the cut branches, to protect the main trunk a bit.

There is still one branch alive on this tree, and it’s got quite a few apples on it.

The plum in the background does have a lot of dead branches, but at the top, it’s still alive. I am leaving it for now.

Usually, for stuff like this, I would have broken down the branches a bit, but otherwise just hauled it over to one of the piles of branches we’ve made while cleaning up over the past couple of years. I did things differently this time.

The small branches, I cut short and loaded into the wagon, to be used as kindling in the fire pit.

The large pieces will wait until I can co-ordinate with one of the girls to work on them.

The wood looks surprisingly solid. I’m going to see if anything can be salvaged for carving. If not, they’ll be cut to fire pit size for use during cook outs.

It isn’t much, but I’m happy to have gotten at least this bit done. There is another tree, an elm, near the fire pit area that is mostly dead. I actually thought it was dead our first year here, but after a rainfall, it perked up. Last year’s drought seems to have done it in, though. It’s quite large, though, so we’ll have to be more careful taking down the dead parts.

That will wait for another day!

The Re-Farmer

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