Buffalo Trace

Buffalo Trace
From a few years ago, me mugging with the bronze buffalo sculpture at Buffalo Trace Distillery in Kentucky.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Saving a Little Money on Tree Removal May Have Cost Me Again!

The new shed is an expense I can be enthusiastic about.
 I'm not the kind of guy that relishes spending big bucks on crap that must be done around the house. I don't mean actual home improvements, but I refer to things that must be done for general upkeep.

I'm happy – almost gleeful, really – to pump bucks into remodeling and refurbishing projects that not only improve my home's usability and/or appearance, but add a little value as well. The $1,300 to $1,600 (My record keeping wasn't all it could have been.) my recent shed project cost me was money well spent in my opinion. Looking at it – let alone using it – always makes me smile. I have no buyer's remorse as I stroke out the monthly checks to American Express, the credit card on which I charged most of the cost. Not only am I pleased with the way it looks, it has proven to be everything I wanted it to be in terms of utility. The $300 or so I recently spent on a new water heater, however, doesn't provide me with the same warm fuzzies.

There is also a definite lack of warm fuzzies with regard to my current tree-removal escapade.

As I gazed out my upstairs bathroom window on Friday morning, I realized one of the huge (three or four stories high) pine trees in my backyard was dead – not dying, but deader than a doornail. How long had it been like that? No clue. Apparently, I don't spend a lot of time in my yard gazing skyward.

Almost overnight, it seems, the tree on the right died.

Originally one member of a cluster of three similarly sized pines – all leaning in drastically different directions – this pine took a big hit a few winters ago when a wet snow snapped off one of its major lower branches. I have no clue if this was the beginning of its end, but something sure as heck struck it a mortal blow.

One of its two siblings was felled by a door-to-door tree cutter a year ago last November. He did it as one element of a job that cleared the air space over my house of trees and branches that could come crashing down in a severe storm. That particular tree was leaning at a precarious angle over my house. I still have several huge logs in the yard that the tree cutter never returned to collect and remove. What do I expect for $250?

Logs left behind by my last bargain-basement door-to-door tree cutter.

The recently dead pine refused to be ignored. (Perhaps it's just sleeping, I briefly hoped.) No, it leans over the street that runs along the side of my lot. Figuring the cost would be much higher to have it cut up and removed from the the street if some part of it wound up straddling the pavement after a storm, I rifled through my papers and found a flyer from yet another door-to-door tree cutter who came a-callin' four or five months ago.

Discovering the phone number on the flyer was still in service was a positive development, I thought. Dialing the number I was connected to the person the flyer identified as the office manager. Possessing a different last name than the flyer-identified owner, I have no clue how she fits into the door-to-door-tree-cutting-company pecking order. I could barely hear her over the racket of a chainsaw in the background. She eventually strolled far enough from the din that I could hear she was turning the phone over to her son Joey. He took my name and other particulars and said they would be by later in the afternoon to provide an estimate. I'm unsure as to her field role with this little company. For the less than three hours they were at my house on Saturday, she and some guy sat on the hood of her car watching her son and Billy work.

Good to Joey's word – another positive sign – I got a knock on my door about 5 p.m. After throwing on a shirt and sandals, I stepped out into my carport to find some old faded-blue sedan of indeterminate make in my driveway with four or five people stuffed in it. Emerging from the driver's seat, Joey extended his hand and introduced himself. He and another guy – Billy, I later learned – walked with me around the house to the problem tree.

10:45 a.m.
Breaking their business-conference huddle, the two turned to me and Joey offered, “We'll take the dead one out for $500, or we'll take it and the other one out for $600.”

“That includes removing all the wood, right?” I questioned.

“Yep.”

“Will you remove those, too?” I asked pointing to the half dozen big logs left by the last tree cutter.

“Yep,” the ever eloquent Joey answered.

“How about grinding out the stumps?” I pushed my luck.

“We don't grind stumps,” Joey replied, “but we got somebody who does. It'll probably cost you another $100 for that. We don't remove the wood either, but I got a guy. I included the cost in the $600.”

“Sold!” I said. “When?”

“You're on the top of our list tomorrow,” Joey promised. “Billy likes to sleep in on Saturday; so, we'll be here around 10.”

“Works for me,” I answered. “Will you take a check?”

“Yep. Make it out to my mom.”

Long story, short, er, shorter: I got a call from Joey around 10 on Saturday morning telling me they were running a little late. Apparently Billy couldn't get his big ass out of bed. I had an errand downtown and returned home around 10:45 to find them preparing to start the job. By noon both trees were down, cut up and ready to be hauled away.

Noon.
 Joey told me the guy who hauls the wood away and does the stump grinding was on a job and probably wouldn't be by until Monday. No worries on my end, I told him, as long as he could wait until everything was done to get paid. He appeared cool with that.

We'll see what happens from here. I still have my $600 and a side yard full of downed trees.

Sometimes being a cheapskate doesn't make for smooth sailing.

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