This is not a joke

I (Reta) am not really good at April Fool’s Jokes. The way that I am funny is generally funny voices, or some sort of performative type thing – I never got the hang of pranking. Maybe it is because my upbringing stressed putting myself in someone else’s shoes – it has never made sense to fill those shoes with shaving cream (see what I did there?)

I hope that you are doing as well as can be expected in these difficult times. There seems to be so much news and information coming at us like a fire hose, that it can be tough to follow. We are facing a pretty challenging situation as a community, as a province, as a country and beyond. I see people pulling together – while staying two meters apart – and it is incredible. Generally, Chris and I thought we were pretty healthy, then we welcomed Isobel into our family. It turns out we were not really healthy previously – just really good at not having anyone cough in our mouth. Sheesh! I think having a toddler was good training for what we are facing right now – wash your hands, have a nap, give each other space, read books, eat snacks.

We are considered an essential service – as such, we will continue to clear snow and we will respond to emergency tree calls. I (Reta) will continue to quote – while following industry best practices. This may mean marking the trees ahead of time, and then talking on the phone during the quote, or practising social distancing while we move around the yard. As a company, we were set up to email quotes and receive online payment before this all happened, so in that regard, we are business as normal. We can discuss the details when we make the appointment.

We will be scheduling routine or non emergency tree work to begin in May. Chris, Isobel and I laid in supplies and started socially distancing on March 13, and we will require the same of our team once we get underway this year. Our work is likely considered low risk for the spread of Covid 19, as we work outside, we are a small team, and to manage communication, we have always relied on having Reta as the point of contact. Additionally, the pylons, the chainsaws, and the chipper keep people away.

Isobel says, “What does a chicken say when he is hungry?” We say, “What does he say?” She replies, “I am hungry………the chicken can also talk” That is the joke that she has told me almost daily for two weeks, then I decided to record it and she made chicken noises. Lol. kids!

Please take care of yourself first. You need to put your own mask on, before helping anyone else. I read that this will be a marathon, not a sprint. I don’t want to do either. I want to meander or at the very best stroll. If there is anything that Chris or I can do – please let us know. I make a mean bowl of soup and am happy to leave some on your doorstep. If tree work was part of your plan for 2020, please grab a quote and let’s talk.

If you are going through hell, keep going. Winston Churchill

May you live in interesting times

Image result for chinese curse may you live in interesting times

I always thought it was a proverb or wish, but apparently the Chinese saying “may you live in interesting times” is actually a curse. We are definitely living through dynamic times. Facing Covid-19 in the years 2020 means that we have health care, sanitation, ready access to supplies (for the most part. What is with you, toilet paper hoarders??) and we are able to physically self isolate, while remaining deeply connected through the World Wide Web. The last one is maybe a curse or a blessing – depending on how you manage your online. I think we are coming to realize just how much people move around – for pleasure, business, and education, how far goods travel, and how we need to respond to these unprecedented challenges. Pandemics have happened before, but never to us in 2020.

We are still open for business. While our work involves risk, in the current pandemic sense, it is low risk. We work outside, away from crowds. Our loud and scary equipment keeps people away from us. And we are already set up to do quotes by email, take etransfers and credit card payments (through our handy web portal)

Further steps we will be taking is to do quoting by phone (meaning I – Reta – will be wandering around your yard, while you watch out the window, and we will be on the phone), and observing serious personal space if/when we are all outside together.

We are a small, locally owned tree service. When Isobel was born, we became a literal “Mom and Pop” operation. The spring is always the tight time for us, but we will make it through if we can book work now for later in the spring/summer.

If you are at home, staring out the window and realize you need to talk to an arborist – please consider requesting a quote

Get that tree a haircut!

Generally speaking, cedars are not a great bet in Manitoba. The extremes and variability that characterizes the weather in these parts is not a good match for what cedars need. Having said that, older nursery stock that was climatized properly, and had better winters to get established can be wonderful specimens.

These lovely towering (columnar) cedars deserved a bit of love after getting nibbled on by deer over the winter. It’s a great example of updating an older tree, instead of removing it.

If deer got into your cedars, or any other trees need a day at the spa,give Reta a call at 204-730-0368 or fill out our handy form GET A QUOTE

Precision Grinding

I say this often, but you really need the right tool for the right job. We have a big ole mini tracked stump grinding unit. And it is great. There are times when you want to (and need to) get up and personal with what you are working on.

And for these specific situations, nothing but the Alpin Magnum will do. Developed in Washington State, this grinder is a go-anywhere type tool.

If you have a stump in a tough spot, call Reta at 204-730-0368 and we can figure it out! Or fill in our handy form GET A QUOTE

What I found in a tree

Being an arborist involves being prepared for many surprising things. The weather is a big one. I stopped paying any real attention to forecasts about ten mins into working outside (weirdly, because I remember the forecast being much more accurate when I was 20 and truck driving) I have frozen my buns off or sweated like crazy listening to an inaccurate forecast. So now, I dress in layers, and Wim Hof (you know, that guy who encourages you to roll around in the snow and take cold showers) It is a short hand for mind over body, I suppose.

A big surprise we encounter a lot is foreign material included in trees, also known as “hardware disease” It is hard on chainsaws, chippers, and our nerves. And it is always when we are cutting with a fresh chain! Or have just swapped the chipper blades!

How do these foreign objects end up in a tree?! Well, it could be as simple as you are mowing the lawn, see a rock, and toss it over to the base of the tree (where you won’t be mowing) Over time, the tree can “include” that rock, and then years, and years later, we find it when we are removing the tree. Christmas lights, left on the tree for too long, can end up included in the growth of the tree. Then there are the lag bolts for bird feeders, the chains for bikes, you name it – it goes on and on.

Nothing to see here

Ahaha! Lurking around the corner!

My suggestions are to never screw or nail anything into a tree. Check chains (for bikes or patio furniture) on a regular basis to ensure that they are not becoming embedded. The tree in your yard is a living thing, which enjoys fancy dress up (Christmas lights, and birdhouses) but check in from time to time to make sure they aren’t partied out!

If you would like to talk about what surprised you in a tree (like maybe a spiritual awakening?) call Reta at 204-730-0367 or check out more things we’ve found in trees in this post !!

Why we are arborists

Tree work is difficult at the best of times. It is performed outside, in all kind of weather. We lift heavy loads, with uncertain footing. It is seasonal, and weather dependent. We deal with dogs, neighbours, physics, insurance companies, and all the challenges of small business ownership!

So why the heck would we choose to do this kind of work?

Believe it or not, we think it’s fun. Unlimited vigorous activity! Fresh air! Suntans! Cool gear! We don’t need a gym membership (we still have one for the winter training and hot tub!)

 But really…

  • We like making the world a better place. I love pruning apple trees! Deadwooding and shaping an apple tree will ensure that it will have a long, and healthy life, bringing beauty and fruit production to your yard. It is so rewarding to remove dead or dying trees close to homes, and buildings. And understanding and applying the physics of tree felling, rigging, and pulleys makes me occasionally want to time travel back to Grade Two Reta and say, Simple machines will be useful!
  • Nature or nurture – its just the way we are! Chris and I both came up in heavy construction (it is actually part of the story of how we met. I made a smart ass comment and he asked how I knew that. I replied, I’m a truck driver. He says, me too. Ahh, young love!) Chris grew up in a gravel pit, and started driving gravel trucks as soon as he was tall enough. In a similar theme, I started driving the grain truck as soon as I was tall enough, on the farm I grew up on. We both grew up seeing our parents face the challenges of entrepreneurship, and enjoy the benefits.
  • Our customers – It sounds super hokey, but it is the truth. Many of our customers have turned into friends, and aunties or grandmas for Isobel. I love running into our customers at Superstore or Canadian Tire, and chatting up a storm. As we enter our seventh year in Brandon, I am filled with gratitude and amazement at how lovely our customers are. Thank you!

If you would like to change things up in your yard, call Reta to schedule a quote at 204-730-0368 or use our handy online quote form here. And before you hire any arborists, check out 10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring an Arborist or Tree Service

Why does my tree look like that?!

After the stormy times of 2014, I found that a lot of folks in the surrounding area became very “tree aware”. I got a lot of phone calls asking “is my tree safe?” I would generally respond that all trees in our care do pose some degree of risk, and that I would assess the risk, with a few caveats. With the tough weather we have had over the past two years – hot, dry summers, and cold, dry winters, I am now getting a lot of calls wondering why their tree looks the way it does.

When assessing a tree with an eye to possible pruning, or removal, I work through the  pyramid, or three legged stool: Safety – Health – Appearance. Some of the questions I ask around safety are: how close is the tree to buildings, public walkways, powerlines? What kind of tree is it, how has it been pruned in the past, what is the overall structure? Then I assess if the tree is healthy, leafed out, fighting off bugs, mushrooms, pathogens. Appearance can definitely be subjective, and sentimental value is always a consideration.

When there is a question of infection, I prepare samples and send them away to a lab to test. We are generally not big proponents of chemically treating trees, that may just need water and pruning. It is important to know what the concern is, and we can discuss lab results when they come back.

Caring for your tree is the best defense. Trees are like us. They have a circulatory system, scars from injuries, neighbours.  Caring for your tree means regular haircuts (pruning for species and age as recommended by a certified arborist), watering your trees when we go weeks, or months without rain in the summer, and monitoring for the signs of decline (mushrooms, dead branches in the crown, root plate shifting, splits at unions, and premature leaf or needle loss are among the most obvious)

If you have questions about your trees, please call Reta at 204-730-0368

If you want to know what questions to ask – 10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring an Arborist or Tree Service

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