I must be part Amish. The English would have rented a stump grinder or other motorized technology their loose morals allow them to operate. Not me. Because I am righteous, fearless of hard work, and also unwilling to part with my money, I did it old school.

Weeks ago I documented the pioneer spirit with which I chopped down our dead maple tree. The plan was to replace that tree with a new one. The plan was not to wait so long to do it, but we hearty woodsmen have to roll with the punches.

The first step was removing the stump. After six weeks’ meditation on the subject, I decided the way to do this without spending money was just to dig the thing out. I was under no illusions about how difficult it would be to dig up a tree stump.

Yeah, I may have been under some illusions about the difficulty. Illusions can become a burden to the psyche. They’re tricky little bastards, and so are tree trunks. Tree trunks can mutate into philosophical quagmires.

I got my shovel and dug around the stump, and I got my ax and hacked off roots, and this all went well for about 10 minutes. I’m not saying I stopped after 10 minutes; it’s just that the digging and hacking grew tiresome. I persisted, because I’ve never been one to surrender to the reality of a situation without a fight.

My tree stump spiritual adviser.

Big Man came out to help after an hour, at which point I was ready to accept advice from a four-year-old. Being a man of action, most of his ideas involved more digging and hacking. Since a preschooler’s digging and hacking can quickly become unfocused, we hit upon a new plan. We got some wedges and split the stump in its hole. Amazingly, this kind of worked.

Having mostly cleared the hole, it remained to locate and new tree. It can be handy having a garden you abandoned when children stole your free time. In this forsaken spot, a sapling had sprouted where it had no business. Its leaves look Maple-ish, but I can’t prove its pedigree – it’s my first week as an arborist. I guess we’ll find out.

Plants grow best in my garden when I let them fend for themselves.

Maybe we’ll find out. We might have killed it in transit. Its roots were twined in the neglected chicken wire surrounding the neglected fence around the neglected garden. Some of its thicker roots were casualties of our tug-o-war with the chicken wire.

Dead or alive, we dropped it in the hole. We added all three shovelfuls of fertilizer our composting barrel has produced from eight years’ worth of vegetable contributions. Then, we filled in the dirt and gave our new baby a long drink of water.

Possibly a Maple; possibly a tall weed; possibly dead.

If we planted a dead tree, we’ll just try again. We have all kinds of little ones growing where they don’t belong. We’ll keep trying until we get one to prosper or the rest of our yard looks civilized. Either way, it’s a win.

The result of all this hard work on my delicate blogger’s thumb.


26 comments on “Stumped!

  1. GoofyEd says:

    That which thrives where neglected, will reject loving care. I think that is an axion of old husband’s tales. Your blister is strong evidence that you did not quote that axion to LaRay.
    I hope you prove the axion wrong.

  2. floatinggold says:

    So you took out a tree to put in another tree. Your kid will be in your hacking/ derooting position when he gets older, and will curse your name for giving him such a task.

    It’s good that you were able to bond. Big Man must have been so proud to help.

    The maple looks great, btw. And I’m sure your wife bandaged your finger up, after biting it off, first, in her dismay with your fragile fingers.

  3. thegsandwich says:

    I give you a lot of credit. I just let the stumps deteriorate for a few years, and then chop them up.

  4. Gibber says:

    Wow! I’m impressed you were able to type this post with a crippled bloggers thumb! That must have been so difficult and exhausting.
    Oh and good job getting most of the stump out. Here’s hoping the sappling feels the love and creates another stump for you to dig out one day.

  5. markbialczak says:

    The new tree looks strong, no matter its true type, Scott. I don’t know what it might be. I hope it likes the space you dug for it! Great job in removal and planting.

  6. Just Joan says:

    Divide and conquer is always the answer, isn’t it? Unless it’s band together and conquer? There’s one to meditate on for six weeks or so while your thumb heals. Hope the random tree does well in its new location. 🙂

  7. AmyRose🌹 says:

    OH MY GOSH!!! I am stunned you were able to get that tree stump out. I KNOW the work involved! I applaud you loudly 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼 and send tender 😘😘😘 so your boo-boo heals on your thumb. GOOD JOB, Scott!! And I really mean that! Now sit back and watch your tree grow! YAYAY!!

    • Thank you, Amy. It was a day’s work. Not sure how many more stumps I’ll be tackling in the near future though. They put up too much fight.

      • AmyRose🌹 says:

        Scott, I really KNOW how hard that stump is and those roots too. I recently put in a new garden (pics to come) with hubby’s help from the rototiller, and when he hit the roots from a tree that used to be where the garden was being put in, he couldn’t go anywhere. Then when I dug with my shovel to make holes for the new plants, I came across roots that just about broke my arm when I hit them. Hopefully no more stumps for either you or for me!

  8. […] droned on and on this summer about how I took out a dead Maple tree from our back yard and replaced it with a younger version. Now that I’ve got you accustomed to my blather about trees, I might as well finish the […]

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