Category Archives: Surprises

Topping is evil

Previously topped Manitoba Maple, that had had failed leaders in the past – photo credit: Jillian Creasor

We recently had a storm event that resulted in a lot of damaged trees throughout Brandon and the Westman area. With few exceptions, the reason that these trees failed was because they had been previously topped. I am not talking pineapple on pizza (which is delicious) or sprinkles on ice cream (literally the worst) Read on to find out what topping is, why people have done it in the past, and what you can do differently to take care of your trees.

What is topping?

Topping in the tree world is an outdated pruning practice that does not deliver. Generally, “topping” is just that – taking the top or upper crown off a tree.

After topping, many epicormic shoots arise and develop into weakly attached branches. These
branches, and the multiple leaders, continue to develop girth and weight and have an
increasing potential to fall and cause damage to people and property.

Linda Chalker-Scott, The Myth of Tree Topping, PlantAmnesty, https://www.plantamnesty.org/wp-content/uploads/The-Myth-of-Tree-Topping.pdf

Why do people top trees?

Trees may have grown and are interfering with power lines or properties. People may think that it is safer to have a shorter tree or that getting a serious pruning will give the tree a chance to “fill out” Topping promises a safer tree, but does not deliver.

How does topping a tree affect it?

Initially, the loss of leaves results in less food for the tree. The tree is more susceptible to disease, decay and insects through all the cut off stubs and limbs.

Trees understandably freak out after losing their top or upper canopy (how upset would you be if you lost your head?!) Trees react with rapid growth, which results in poorly connected branches in an attempt to replace as many leaves as quickly as possible.

Eventually the new branches grow to the original height, but are tied in poorly, which restarts the whole cycle again.

(You can use a chainsaw for proper pruning!)

What is the alternative to topping a tree?

Excellent question! A healthy, well pruned, watered tree is the safest. Depending on the age, placement, and species of tree, there are several effective tree pruning techniques that can be employed. Selective crown reduction, or crown thinning are two ways we can respond to some of the concerns that motivate tree topping. Bottom line, if you are considered topping a tree, you may want to consider tree removal and stump grinding and replace with a tree that will more comfortably fit into the space.

You can consult with an arborist, who can assess risk, and make suggestions!

You can request a visit online here Request a quote ! Or call Reta at 204-730-0368

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

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 !!

Smoky nights and hot days!

I remain positive and enthusiastic all the time, even in the face of adversity. I am excited at 6am when we get to drive trucks and run heavy equipment. I can summon a dizzying hustle at the end of the day, even if there is a huge pile of logs standing in my way of getting home. This is my super power. It is a must if you are going to be an entrepreneur for more than ten minutes. It means scrubbing the toilets when staff doesn’t show up (another lifetime); it means emergency trips to the equipment dealer in Winnipeg, it can mean long days and longer nights. We are in the middle of an epically challenging year. From the weather (too cold, too cold, too cold – OMG IT IS TOO HOT), to the fires and construction that Brandon has endures (our shop is right across the train tracks from the fires that hit Brandon, and our post office box burned down), and it seems like every piece of equipment we own has needed serious repairs (new transmission for the big truck, new engine for the little truck, an overhaul for the stump grinder, and a tune up for my truck. Oh and then a tree fell on my trailer. Sheesh.)

We have had trouble retaining employees. Tree work is heavy, can be repetitive, and we work in all kinds of weather. We are up front about the unique joys and challenges of tree work, but maybe people don’t believe us? Underestimate us?

And all these problems we have been having, I hesitate to bring up because of the terrifying shifts in global politics. Chris is a first generation Canadian, and I was oft reminded of my farmer pioneer ancestors as a child. It seems like a deeply polarizing time in the world, where we have forgotten all the hard won lessons of the 20th century.

I am here at the office on a Friday night, catching up on paperwork because of the babysitter being sick for half of the week. Isobel is super helpful with many things, but not so much the paperwork. My take out was late, my credit card would not work….

So the cherry on top of this whole thing is that I had one more packet of papers to staple and I had just run out of staples. I went to the supply drawer and opened the box backwards, dumping all the staples out. And I started laughing. Not in a worrisome way, but weird because I am by myself. The thing is, I don’t know if I would choose another path. Chris’s quote of the summer has been “I barely survive, but I do so on my own terms.” Crazy as it sounds, I belong to a group of people who will sometimes succeed, and will sometimes fail, and sometimes do insane things – but they do it on their own terms (remember that dog rescue, Lydia?) I come from a long time of lady business owners, producers, and farmers. I do not want to tempt fate, but I am glad I can surf these challenges, and hopefully land on a peaceful shore (whatever that looks like)

My friend Teri at Brown Sugar Produce (who grows my delicious vegetable CSA) says something about taking care of the important things so that they will last. To that, I am only going to do a bank deposit and three quotes tomorrow, then go to the beach with Chris and Isobel.

If you would like to see my superpower in action, call Reta at 204-730-0368. If you would like to heed my wisdom, stay in school and hug your family.

If you are thinking about hiring an arborist, read 10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring an Arborist or Tree Service

Pruning inside!?!?

I recently was contacted by a previous customer, where we had done work at their place of business. They needed us at their home. I could not have guessed that I was in for such a treat!

They have a giant two-story ficus tree.

Words nearly escaped me.

Things we learned – ficus tress drip when they are pruned, and that sappy stuff is poisonous. You need a broom, not a rake to clean up inside. And you need to wrap everything in a tarp when carrying branches out.

It was an honour to be able to prune this specimen.

If you have an interesting tree for us to look at, please call Reta at 204-730-0368

Look out behind those bushes!

Look out for this guy!

When we look to solve problems, we often look to our own professional experience. Makes sense! An accountant may suggest that a budget makes owning a home easier (but not as fun!) A contractor may suggest a new bathroom (good idea!) A locksmith may suggest a new lock (do you see where I am going with this?)

A recent article in Popular Mechanics about home security listed the normal “update your locks” suggestions that you already know, but what jumped out at me was the importance of landscaping. Read article >>>>

Being able to see clearly out of the front door and windows means that someone cannot hide, or get close to the house without attraction notice. It would be helpful if burglars wore little black masks and striped shirts, but in real life, I don’t think they do. A well lit home, with nicely pruned trees is an excellent start.

Call Reta if you’d like to talk security strategies 204-730-0368

It is the season for snuggling

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Smiles 2016

As the snow has finally hit, after an uncertain month – ones thoughts turn to the important matters. “Do I have enough hot chocolate on hand, if I get storm stayed?” “How much turkey can I eat this month?” “Are cheese grilled sandwiches their own food group? Or some sort of crazy synergy between butter, cheese and bread?”

But all joking aside, as the pace of life slows, we tend to look back and look forward. 2016 had a lot more challenges than we could have anticipated. It was also one of our busiest years ever. Maybe it just felt that way as we juggled diapers and logs.

We completed some of our largest removals ever.

Chris is the poplar guy at the party

It was estimated by our firewood guy, Bill that he loaded nearly 20,000 lbs of wood from these trees. THOSE were some big trees!

We dealt with a lot of logs! We made up log dances, and log songs – but in the end, we just moved a lot of wood!

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Logs logs logs!!

We developed new ways of dealing with juniper…which at one point, may have been the bane of my existence. I had totally underestimated the depth and involvement of this juniper bush a few years back and we were there for way too many days. The homeowner was very patient, but it was tough. It was 40 degrees, I was pregnant, tough times!

So Chris developed the truck removal! Which involves chains. Now this is normally something we would advise against – when the stump breaks free, it does not have brakes, and therefore, that clump is technically out of control. He advanced, braked, and then backed up. Repeating this action means wiggling the roots back and forth, then popping it out like a tooth. Low speed means more control.

Chaining juniper up is the only solution

What a beautiful day to take my juniper for a walk!

Once again, we entered into a storm season. Every year, we think, all the trees that would be affected by storms have already been damaged/removed/pushed over. And yet every year, there seems to be a tree on a house, a tree on a car, someone who needs us on a Saturday morning. This year, we had an exciting day that took us from the North Hill, in Brandon, to Ninette, and then up to Carberry. It is really humbling to think of the size of that weather system and how many people it affected.

When spruce attack

Is there a tree on your house? Please call us – we can help!

We did have a few rough spots. Tree work is not for everyone, and we had to say good bye to a dear friend because of irreconcilable differences. Richard caught a chainsaw in the face in August, and is still under treatment (good news – he is driving again!) They managed to remove the piece in his eye and it turned out to be a chainsaw chain tooth – there may have been something in the log that he was cutting that interacted with the saw. First aid training and excellent response time from the ambulance made all the difference.

What a difference a year makes!

Eight months pregnant on the left – ten month old baby on the right!

We will spend the winter dreaming, planning, and getting our equipment ready for 2017. We tend to renovate in our downtime. We also plan to spend time with friends and family.

We wish your family that happiest holiday season and good health in the New Year!

The New Year Review 2014 [Bee EZ Tree Service]

What is there to say about 2014? We cut, we pruned, we ground stumps – we made the world a safer, more attractive place! And we had fun doing it.

FLORIDA !!

The first fun adventure – right out of the gates, was a long-awaited trip to Florida. Celebrating Chris’s 40th birthday with a big trip was a goal of mine for many years. We did EVERYTHING! From South Beach, Miami to a cruise to the Bahamas, from Disney to Kennedy Space Centre – Coral Castle and the Everglades. Read more

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