About a week ago now we had an unexpected event at the farm. My wife and daughter were outside near the garden and I was getting prepped for my "garden expansion project" planned for the following day. I happened to be heading into the barn (on an especially windy day) when I heard a crack! I immediately yelled "CARA!!!" and saw her head appear near the door of our house. We both had time to look towards one of our huge silver maple trees on the property and saw an enormous branch fall to earth. It was one of the most shocking experiences that I have encountered. There was absolutely no time to react. Had Cara been under the tree, by the time she would have looked up...I hate to even think of it. By the grace of God no one was hurt.
Measuring 52 feet long and with a 5 ft circumference at the base, this was a monster! It crushed a small 12 ft tree and a bench, landed about 5 feet from our van, and ended up straddling a huge dead stump that I was trying to figure out what to do with.
As I mentioned earlier it was a windy day, but I was sure this tree had seen it's fair share of wind over the years. It got me wondering, "What caused it shear off?" I started to looking at the trunk and it became fairly apparent. I felt the wood that was scattered about from the trunk itself, and sure enough, it was extremely dry. What I noticed ON the tree, was something that I had pointed out to the kids a few weeks earlier...mushrooms. I thought they looked appetizing, but had no way to reach them. In retrospect, I believe that they were a sign of structural degeneration within the branch itself. Now, this is all hindsight, but there must have been a leak, pretty major one to allow enough water to leach out of the branch to nourish this grouping of mushrooms.
I see that there is a white fungus growing on the inside of the branch, and assume that this is either the cause, or the result of this lack of water traveling up into the branch. I'll have to do some research and see what I come up with. The upper section of the branch was just fine, still plenty of "wet" wood and green growth. So.....hmmmmmm????
Needless to say, my plans to expand the garden were scrapped for my new, unexpected, project. I have three chainsaws. An old electric chainsaw, a newer Husqvarna, and a Stihl 290 Farmboss. I mainly used the Stihl to cut the majority of the branches, but did use the Husqvarna for some of the smaller cutting.
With the wet wood though, it was dulling both of my chains FAST! So, I cut up as much as I could, and after failing to find a replacement chain with large teeth, I ended up calling someone to remove the last 20 feet of branch PLUS the old stump upon which it fell! Two birds with one stone!
I guess the reason for this post is to caution everyone to be vigilant about your trees. My mom called it a "widow maker," and boy is there truth to that. The tree service came out and identified some more tree branches (if not the whole tree) that should be trimmed back. All it takes is one gust, a heavy snow, or time...you can never tell. I guarantee that from this day forth, I will be calling a tree service the first sign of fungus growth!!!