Appalachia Logging

Falling the Tree

Wilderness in brasstown nc

fall transitive verb To fell a tree using a broad axe or felling axe (esp in phrs fall a tree, fall the timber).
1956 Hall Coll. Roaring Fork TN I was fallin’ a big chestnut tree, and it struck a dead locust which fell against me, and I had to lay out doin’ anything for two or three weeks. (Dick Ogle) 1958 GSMNP-110:39 My job was to chunk with the saw to fall the timber in the best shape without breaking it. 1960 Mason Memoir 110-11 It was the responsibility of the chipper to decide the most desirable direction in which to fall the tree. 1983 Pyle CCC 50th Anniv A:2:18 Somebody in the crew is supposed to know how to fall a tree.

~Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English


Although I love the smells that surround cutting wood, I’m a fraidy cat when it comes to falling the trees.

The Deer Hunter and I were in total agreement about cutting all the pines that could possibly come down on the house in a storm. There was one tree that was a maybe on our list. It couldn’t possible hit the house if it came down…but it was the main offender in shading my garden and over the last 2 years its shadow had lengthened to hover above the greenhouse in early spring before the sun rises higher in the sky.

Chitter said “You’re not cutting that tree it’s my favorite and it’s the biggest one we should leave it. You’re not cutting it period. We should leave it.” Her Daddy said “Well we’ll leave it to the end and then we’ll talk about it.”

Granny is a fraidy cat when it comes to anything that can be the least bit dangerous-I guess that’s where I get my tendency to close my eyes and cover my ears when something loud is about to happen. One evening the girls called to let me know I needed to park at Pap’s and walk up since some of the trees were liable to land in the driveway.

Granny and I went out on her back porch to see if we could see anything before I walked home. We heard the boom of a falling tree and then complete silence. I said “I hope everyone’s ok it’s unusual not to hear the girls talking or laughing.” In the softest voice you’ve ever heard Granny said “Hello are you alright?” I got so tickled at her! I said “Now who do you think could hear you?” About that time we heard excited voices and knew all was well.

The next evening I was able to drive all the way home since the tree cutting had moved farther along the ridge. As I got out of the car The Deer Hunter yelled down at me “Do you see what’s missing?” I said “Well yeah some trees.” He said “No the big one.”

I had completely failed to notice that the monster pine that had stood sentinel over the yard for so long was gone. I said “I thought you were going to wait to the end?” He said “We just got a wild hair and decided it needed to go too.” I said “Well I’m glad I wasn’t here to see it fall, I bet it shook the ground and it would have scared me to death!”

Even though I wasn’t there, I got to see it fall anyway and thanks to Chatter’s cell phone you can see it too.

Even though the tree has been on the ground a week it still scares me every time I watch the video. Sad to see it go in one way, but good in the sense that I can already envision what the extra sunshine will do for my garden next summer.



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  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    October 16, 2015 at 11:38 pm

    I’ll have to tell you the story of the time I was pulling a tree Mitchell was falling and it fell across my truck- I officially retired from the logging business that day! The only person that wonders why is Mitchell 😉

  • Reply
    Rev. Rose Marie "RB" Redmond
    October 16, 2015 at 4:02 pm

    I have always thought it sad when healthy trees have to come down, but in the view of safety, it’s sometimes necessary, and it’s great when there are trained and able people are around to do it.
    It’s also a good thing when those fallen trees can be used for something else – to provide shelter or warmth for us, or for habitat for other living beings in God’s creation.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    October 16, 2015 at 12:41 am

    When the children were small we had two magnolias about 40 ft tall in our front yard. Their graceful skirts dusted the ground and modestly hid these ladies’ ankles. Put children grow and are want to roam and I couldn’t see them when they were in the street with their friends. (- a short street traveled only by the neighbors who also kept an eye on the neighborhood children as they expanded their explorations.)
    That meant I had to cut the lower limbs so I could keep a watchful eye on my younguns. My neighbor just shook his head as the tears streamed down my face as I cut those branches. I always think of myself as a practical, matter-of-fact gal but those tears took me by surprise and I could not turn them off. Only the kids spreading their blanket for a tea party at the feet of one of those graceful southern ladies slowed the stream.
    Come to think of it, I needed someone like Ed Ammons around to tease me out of that weepy spell. He must be a hoot to be around! 🙂

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    October 15, 2015 at 9:33 pm

    Wise use of forests benefit them as a whole, the felling of this Pine will allow the surrounding hardwoods to finally grow and many of them bear nuts which wildlife and humans use. The US Forest Service, a division of the US Department of Agriculture was conceived to provide multiple uses of our forests one of which is a renewable source of timber. Many folks today want it treated as US National Park which is division of the US Department of the Interior. Nature has always burned excess fuel from forests until mankind adopted a policy too fight all wildfire. We saw the maelstorm which swept through Yellowstone a few years back due to all the fuel on the ground. Another benefit is that younger trees convert more carbon dioxide to oxygen than slower growing mature trees.

  • Reply
    Pamela Danner
    October 15, 2015 at 8:38 pm

    I love trees but, if it’s shading the garden area it’s got to go. Think of all the crafty things you could make with some of the wood.
    Thank you for your sweet comments on my blog Tipper. They are greatly appreciated. And yes, Ruby is ADORABLE! I have shared photos all this week of my trip to see her. Today were beach photos.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    October 15, 2015 at 6:36 pm

    As a forester, I have been involved in one way or another with the felling of lots of trees, though I have cut very few myself. There is a societal ambivalence about tree cutting. It is one of those things where many people want the outcome but do not want to know of, or see, the means. The strangest thing I encountered was that some folks seem not to care how many trees are killed by natural events and even a very select few human causes, just so long as they lie where they fall and no-one gets any money for them.
    Our Appalachian ancestors would likely not understand any reluctance to use wood for real needs or the willingness to allow it to rot rather than use it. Most of them – I think – – would think it just good sense to use as much as possible.

  • Reply
    October 15, 2015 at 6:18 pm

    Your suppose to holler TimmmmBeeerrrr… It was a biggun..

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    October 15, 2015 at 2:48 pm

    I told you about getting a new chainsaw. Here is what I really wanted but I didn’t have the money

  • Reply
    October 15, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    I showed some of my family the video of that big pine and I know
    the feeling Chitter had as it came down. I had a huge Tulip Poplar in my front yard and it had to come down a few years ago. I was afraid it would split my house in two if it was to blow over.
    I’ve had some of my family here
    since Sunday evening. It sure was
    a good feeling while it lasted.
    They plan to come back and be
    here for Thanksgiving…Ken

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    October 15, 2015 at 12:27 pm

    Weep not at the felling of the tree for beneath are its offspring who have for many seasons waited for the sunlight. Even in winter the children of the pine can begin to feast on rays of light they have never before seen. Come spring they will race toward the sky in a competition to become crowned head of this forested realm.
    The fallen monarch will not have died in vain. The sturdy trunk will become timbers and boards with which will be erected a home for another kind of children. Its branches will become firewood to warm an old couple sitting in rocking chairs made from its remnants.
    Even if left to decay on the forest floor the old tree still provides nutrients for its own seedlings and that of other trees. It will become the domicile of countless living creatures that will find sustenance and shelter in its slowly decomposing body.
    Thus the magnificent old tree remains alive far longer than when it stood upright.
    Or it might get hauled off to a chip mill to be ground up and sent overseas to be made into osb, chipboard, particleboard and whatever else, then into cheap furniture, shipped back and sold right back to us at Wally World.

  • Reply
    Sherie Rowe
    October 15, 2015 at 12:09 pm

    That video gave me chills…the sound was heartbreaking…oh well, life goes on and new trees grow. I plant a new tree each year on each of my children’s birthdays and now on my mom’s birthday as well, to keep her spirit alive.

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, PhD
    October 15, 2015 at 9:06 am

    Tipper: Today’s post made me recall again the incident of my brother cutting a BIG walnut tree upon Tusquittee, by the Branch. As it came down he barely escaped being where it hit! He and his buddy were shaking like a leaf when they got through running for their lives!
    Hope you have a sunny weekend!
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    October 15, 2015 at 7:52 am

    There’s always a sadness to me to see trees that took years to grow felled in minutes. Although the tree’s downing might mean more good things to come (like more sunshine on the garden, or the lumber, if used, could mean building something useful), still that tall sentinel that housed birds’ nests in spring and made doleful music when wind swept through its branches is now gone and not a statuesque vision on the landscape.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    October 15, 2015 at 7:50 am

    Wow, that crack in the end is a scary sound!
    Scott, the tree cutter, is like a whirling dervish and everything in his wake goes down. He and the Deer Hunter worked well together. They took down three trees at my house. I’m not sure how many at your house came down, around five I think. That’s a lot of work!

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    October 15, 2015 at 7:31 am

    To fell a tree is always a sad situation for me. On one hand I see the need to protect surrounding property, but on the other they are so majestic and necessary to keep us supplied with oxygen. My husband and I make it a practice to plant a tree every Earth Day.

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