Enjoying the Spring Flowers

Spring has come incredibly early to Wisconsin this year. I’m amazed at just how fast everything has budded and flowered. We’ll actually make it to Easter this year after my spring flowers have blossomed and reached their peak. Given that we’re hustling to fit everything in, I haven’t taken a lot of spring flower pictures, but here are a few showing my tulips, daffodils, and grape hyacinth (amongst others).

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The flowers that appeal the most this spring are the grape hyacinth, which are especially fragrant for some reason. The odor is downright overpowering at times. It must be the unusually high temperatures that we’ve been experiencing. Interestingly enough, our crocus came up, bloomed, and are already gone for the season.

We have a number of different varieties of daffodils. A favorite of mine this year have white petals with yellow insides:

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They look incredibly happy. Of course, the plum trees are blooming as well. This year they’re just loaded with blooms.

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I’m just hoping at this point that we actually get to keep some of the fruit. Wouldn’t you know it, the trees just start blooming well and the weatherman has to ruin everything with a prediction of frost. Our weather hasn’t been quite as nice the last few days as it was earlier in the month. That’s part of the problem with an early spring-the trees start blooming early, which exposes them to a greater risk of frost. If you want some tips and more information when it comes to blooming trees then take a look on tree service blooms as they’ve got good information on a lot of different types of trees flowering.

Fortunately, the pear trees are just starting to get ready to bloom. The buds have started to burst open a little, but they’re still closed enough that a light frost won’t hurt them.

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The apples aren’t even as far along as the pears, so there aren’t any worries with them. I really do hope my plums survive the night. A frost would probably ruin our harvest at this point. It doesn’t pay to worry. The weather will do what the weather will do whether I worry or not, so it’s best just to let things go the way they will. Every year brings it’s own special set of challenges.

So, are you experiencing an early spring this year? If so, what sorts of challenges are you facing? How do you plan to use the early spring to your advantage? Let me know at [email protected].

 

Moving the Chicken Coop Parts

In my previous post about the chicken coop, Starting a Chicken Coop, I talked about some of the requirements I had looked at when getting the parts for the chicken coop I wanted to build. Three of us worked together to start taking the chicken coop at my friend’s house apart. We worked carefully because some of the parts really didn’t require any deconstruction. Here we are sitting in front of the car used to transport one of the walls intact:

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Cody, our intern, is standing on the left. Kevin, an ex-Seabee and also the brains of this operation, is standing in the middle. I’m on the right. The car was most definitely overloaded with that piece of wall on its back:

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You can’t see it very well in the picture, but the car is definitely riding low. We also loaded up my Explorer and eventually we used my uncle’s truck. It took us a day and a half to break down the chicken coop and move it over to the house. We also obtained some corrugated roofing material from another friend. He had removed it from his house and saved the better looking pieces. By the time we were finished, we ended up with three distinct piles of parts:

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This pile contains some walls we thought we could use intact, the nesting box, some sheet goods, and a bit of fencing. There are also some other bits and pieces that we probably won’t use. For example, the feeding trough it way too long. I’ll deconstruct it and use the wood for another project-absolutely nothing goes to waste around here.

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This pile contains an additional wall that we thought we might need, but weren’t sure about. It also contains some bricks (we probably won’t need them) and the 2 X 4 stock used to put everything together. In addition to 2 X 4 stock, we were able to salvage some 4 X 4s, 2 x 2s, 2 X 6s, and a number of other sizes of lumber.

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This pile contains some fencing parts and the corrugated metal roofing. Actually, we’ll use that metal to surround the entire chicken coop, making it quite durable. The only new materials that the chicken coop will have are some screws (we’re reusing as many as possible) and some tar paper. Otherwise, this chicken coop is made up of pieces salvaged from everywhere, including my own basement (pieces from other projects). This is how recycling should work. Nothing will end up in a landfill anywhere-every component you see in these pictures will be used for something (even if it isn’t in this particular project).

Now that the pieces are assembled, we can start building the new chicken coop. I’ll fill you in on the details in a future post. In the meantime, let me know if you have any questions about the process we’re using at [email protected].

 

Getting CodeBlocks to Work – An Update

Quite a while ago, at least in computer technology terms, I wrote the Getting CodeBlocks to Work post to make it easier for readers to obtain a good copy of CodeBlocks to use with C++ All-In-One Desk Reference For Dummies. It seems that some of the information I provided at that time has become outdated.

While the http://www.codeblocks.org/downloads/5 link still works fine, some of the other links may not. A reader recently pointed out that the automated installer location has changed. When you go to the original automated installer site, you now see a number of links, including one listed as Download mingw-get-inst-20111118.exe (591.9 kb ).

Clicking the new link will automatically start a download of the latest automated installer. When the download is complete, you can install your copy of CodeBlocks. Another link to the same download is http://sourceforge.net/projects/mingw/. The point is that there is a download that will work with your system, no matter what system you’re using.

If anyone encounters a problem with these latest downloads, please let me know at [email protected]. I want to be certain that you have a great learning experience when working with my books.

 

Starting a Chicken Coop

Sometimes life throws an opportunity your way and taking it is the only logical choice. Normally, we could never afford to buy all of the parts for a chicken coop at a price that would actually provide a payoff. Normally I try to get a five year payoff plan for anything we add to our property and a chicken coop simply requires too many parts to provide such a payoff when used in a self-sufficient manner.

A friend of ours is selling her house, which actually sits on a small farm. In her pole shed is a chicken coop that she’s willing to sell for a reasonable price—a price that should provide us with that five year payoff plan we need. It’s not meant for outside use, but it does have many of the items that an outside chicken coop would require. Of course, that begins with a double door with the screen on the inside, rather than the outside, so that the chickens can get some fresh air during the summer months.

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Inside the existing chicken coop, there is a roost and nest boxes. The roost provides a place for the chickens to sleep above floor level. The nest boxes provide a place to lay eggs.

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At one end of the existing chicken coop is a chicken-sized door. It leads outside to a ramp where the chicken can go into a fenced area for exercise and fresh air. We plan to make the fenced area large enough to ensure the chickens can get plenty of safe exercise (we’ve seen a few chickens get hit by passing cars when they’re not fenced in, not to mention foxes, weasels, racoons, hawks, and other predators).

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The existing chicken coop even includes a window so the birds get sunshine during the winter months. Given that we’re on a south facing slope, the window will allow not only sunshine, but a certain amount of heat during the winter months. Of course, we’ll need to include a heat lamp for really cold winter nights.

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Of course, the first task is to take the chicken coop down and move it from its current location to our house. We’ll have to use the components we obtain to rebuild the chicken coop in a form that will work better outside (including the addition of a roof). I’ll keep you updated on our progress. In the meantime, let me know if you have any questions about our project at [email protected].

 

Trimming the Trees (Part 3)

In Trimming the Trees (Part 2) I discussed some of the specifics of pruning trees. At this point, my trees are all pruned. However, there is still work to be done. For one thing, this is the time of year when I examine the trees for egg masses of the Eastern Tent Caterpillar. Despite what you may have heard, repeated infestations will definitely kill a fruit tree, especially if the infestation is severe enough. It only makes sense. If you remove all of the leaves from a tree that only gets one set of leaves per season, the tree can’t store energy for the winter months.

Our experience has been that they’re a nuisance with apple trees. Yes, the tent caterpillars will cause a problem, but if you get in there and squish all of the caterpillars in the tent (or better yet, get rid of those egg masses in the spring), the apple hardly notices. However, plum trees seem to attract tent caterpillars like magnets. All four of our plum trees were in danger from dying at one point because we simply couldn’t keep the caterpillars under control. I told my friend about my problem with the plum trees and he said I should work with someone like The Local Tree Experts or at the very least get their perspective on how to manage this problem so we could enjoy our plum trees again. They had some useful advice from what I hear. Trying a few sprays was the first suggestion.

We did try a number of sprays-all of which proved ineffective. Spaying the trees with a dormant oil spray in the spring helps only a little. By far the best strategy is to hunt down the egg clusters and destroy them. The secondary strategy is to look for the tents absolutely every day in the spring and summer after the trees have leafed out and destroy them by individually squishing the caterpillars by hand. We actually had two of our plum trees stripped of leaves in a single day by these pests.

While we’re looking for tent caterpillar egg clusters, we also look for other problems in the trees, such as disease, insect infestations, and so on. It’s easier to find problems after you’ve pruned the trees and there are fewer branches to check. Taking time now to check the trees will save you a lot of effort later.

Of course, now we have a pile of branches to deal with. This year we pruned our pear trees heavily because they’ve become a little overgrown. If pear trees get too overgrown, they’ll tend to prune themselves in heavy winds-usually not in a way you would have chosen. The pile of branches from all of our trees is quite high this year.

TreeTrimming0301

We’ll put all of these branches through the chipper and then use them for mulch. A lot of people would probably burn the branches up, but using them for mulch does save at least some money. I’ve been trying to figure out the environmental balance in this case. On the one hand, burning the branches would produce a lot of particulate smoke that would pollute the air for at least a while. However, using the chipper also produces pollutants, and some of those pollutants are harsher on the environment than the smoke from burning would cause.

If we had burned the branches, I would have placed the pile in the middle of the garden. That way we could have plowed the ashes into the ground where they would have provided fertilizer on top of the winter rye you can see growing in the background of the picture. So, either way, the branches wouldn’t have gone to waste. However, we really need the mulch more than the ashes, so we’re creating the mulch.

Our orchard is ready for spring at this point. Let me know about your tree pruning and bug eradication experiences at [email protected].

 

Puss in Boots

Our kids (both cats and dogs) are constantly doing fun things. Just watching them sometimes rewards us with humorous moments that you can’t find anywhere else. And that’s the wonderful thing about being a pet owner! They just live their lives the way they want to. My dog doesn’t know how silly she looks sleeping on her back, she just does it because she finds it comfortable! Plus, if your dog sleeps on their back it’s a good thing which as yet another win! My cats don’t know how funny it is when they lose their minds over a small red laser dot, they just want to catch the darn thing! For example, when I bring Reese’s food up in the morning, she jumps up and down like crazy and barks insanely. The fact that she’s part beagle makes things even funnier. If you can imagine the ears swinging around wildly, the tongue lolling about in her mouth, the wild jumping, and barking (sometimes a horrible screaming noise) all at the same time, you have to admit that it’s pretty funny. (Contrasted with Reese, Shelby whines what sounds like, “I love momma” while she sits quietly for her food.)

Every one of the animals has something funny they do. They don’t do it every day-the trick would cease to be funny if they did. The various activities change with time, so nothing ever gets really dull. Smucker has decided that dad’s boots smell extra good. I can’t sit down to put my boots on before work without him sticking his head and sometimes most of his body into my boots.

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Even when I finally get the boots on (and believe me, sometimes it’s a real chore), he absolutely has to play with the shoe laces.

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Just why my boots are so fascinating is known only to Smucker. He’ll eventually tire of my boots though (at least, I hope he does) and move onto something else. In the meantime, I’ll continue taking the play mice and glitter balls out of my boots before I put them on and then wrest control of them from the cat.

Meanwhile, Sugar Plum has decided that she needs constant reassurance. If I so much as move at night, she’s right there wanting to be petted. Explaining that it’s the middle of the night and I really need my sleep doesn’t apparently carry much weight with her. After a scritch or two, she lays back down by Rebecca’s side.

Bubba is currently in a battle with Reese over her bed. The bed is in my office, by the way, so I get to witness each battle (I haven’t decided whether they’re mock battles or a bit serious). I sometimes find both Reese and Bubba packed into the little bed and wonder just how it is that they fit. Today though, Bubba won the bed.

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Someone tried to convince me once that they had just a plain old dog. So far I haven’t met any plain animals. All of our kids have been special in some way-each has had a unique personality. Take time to let your kids be themselves sometime and you might be amazed that your dog isn’t old, plain, or just anything else at all. What special traits do your kids have? Let me know at [email protected].

 

Determining When Technology Hurts

I’ve been talking with a friend recently about a disturbing trend that I’m witnessing. Technology has started hurting people, more than helping people, in a number of ways. Actually, it’s not the technology that’s at fault, but the misuse and abuse of that technology. One of my goals as an author is to expose people to various technologies in a way that helps them. This goal is one my major reasons for writing books like Accessibility for Everybody: Understanding the Section 508 Accessibility Requirements. It’s also the reason I’m constantly looking at how our society interacts with technology.

I’m sure that there is going to be some sort of course correction, but currently, our society has become addicted to technology in a way that harms everyone. You could be addicted to technology if you’ve ever experienced one of these symptoms:

  • You’re with friends, family, or acquaintances, but your attention is so focused on whatever technology you’re using at the moment that you lose all track of the conversation. It’s as if these other people aren’t even there.
  • You find yourself making excuses to spend just one more minute with your technology, rather than spend time with your family or friends.
  • In some cases, you forgo food, sleep, or some other necessity in order to spend more time with your technology.
  • Suddenly you have more electronic friends than physical friends.
  • You can’t remember the last time you turned all of your technology off, forgot about it, and spent the day doing anything else without worrying about it.
  • You’ve had some sort of accident or mishap because your technology got in the way.
  • Attempting even small tasks without your technology has suddenly become impossible.


Technology is meant to serve mankind, not the other way around. For example, I was quite excited to learn about the new exoskeleton technologies that I wrote about in my Exoskeletons Become Reality post. The idea that I’m able communicate with people across the world continues to amaze me. Seeing Mars through the eyes of the rovers is nothing short of spectacular. Knowing that someone is able to live by themselves, rather than in an institution, because of their computer sends shivers up my spine. These are all good uses of technology.

However, these good uses have become offset by some of the news I’ve been reading. For example, it has been several years now since scientists and doctors have begun raising concerns about texting being worse than drunk driving=. Drunk driving is a serious offense, of course, and no one wants to undersell that. If you get caught doing it, you will no doubt be in need of an attorney for DUI charges to help you out. What these various groups haven’t considered is that anything that distracts you while driving is bad. For example, radios now have so many gadgets that you can get quite engrossed in trying to get what you want out of them. Except for turning the radio on or off, or perhaps changing the station, I now leave my hands off the radio unless I’m parked. The fact that I daily see cars weaving to and fro in front of me as the driver obviously plays with something in the front seat or on the dashboard tells me that other people aren’t quite as able to turn off the urge to fiddle. Small distractions like this are often the main cause of accidents. It is so important to focus when driving, as an accident, no matter how small can be life-changing. It can also cost a lot of money and you may need to click here to find out more about how a lawyer can help when you’ve been involved in some way. Especially if you have been involved in an accident whereby the other person was at fault for being distracted.

I know of more than a few people who are absolutely never disconnected from their technology. They actually exhibit addictive behavior when faced with even a short time away from their technology. It’s not just games, but every aspect of computer use. Some people who work in IT can’t turn off from their computer use even when on vacation-they take a computer with them. I’ve talked about this issue in my Learning to Unplug post.

I look for the situation to become far worse before it become better. This past Sunday I was listening to a show on the radio that talked about how banks would like to get rid of any use of physical money. You’d carry an electronic wallet in your smartphone and that wallet would provide access to all of your money. In short, even if you’d like to unplug, you can’t because now you depend on that smartphone for the basics in life. At some point, everyone will have to have smartphone simply to survive if the banks have their way.

Of course, why bother with a smartphone when you can embed the computer right into the human body? The science exists to do this now. All that has to happen is that people lose their wariness of embedded computer technology-just as they have with every other form of technology to come along. Part of the method for selling this technology will undoubtedly be the ability to control your computer with your mind.

Technology is currently embedded in humans to meet special needs. For example, if you have a pacemaker, it’s likely that the doctor can check up on its functionality using a wireless connection. However, even here, humans have found a way to abuse technology as explained in my An Update On Special Needs Device Hacking post. What has changed since then is that the entertainment industry has picked up on this sick idea. It’s my understanding that NCIS recently aired a show with someone dying of this very attack. Viewers probably thought is was the stuff of science fiction, but it’s actually science fact. You really can die when someone hacks into your pacemaker.

The implications of what these various groups are working are quite disturbing. As technology becomes more and more embodied within humans, the ability to be alone, ever, will be gone. Any thought you have will also be heard by someone else. There won’t be any privacy; any time to yourself. You’ll be trapped. It’s happening right now and everyone seems to be quite willing to rush toward it at breakneck speed.

The day could come when your ability to think for yourself will be challenged by the brainwaves injected by some implanted device. Theoretically, if the science goes far enough, the ability to even control your own body will be gone. Someone is probably thinking that I sound delusional or perhaps paranoid-I truly hope that none of the future technologies I’ve read about ever come into wide use.

In the meantime, the reality is that you probably could use a break from your technology. Take time to go outside and smell the flowers. Spend an afternoon with a physical friend discussing nothing more than the beautiful day or the last book you read. Go to a theater and watch a play or a movie with your technology left at home. Eat a meal in peace. Leave your smartphone at home whenever you can. Better yet, turn it off for a day or two. Unplug from the technology that has taken over your life and take time to live. You really do owe it to yourself.

Trimming the Trees (Part 2)

I would like to start this by saying that I’ve had lots of experience and training when it comes to using the tools needed for trimming and cutting trees. I know what I’m doing so I know how to do it safely. I would never encourage any of you to cut your trees if you don’t have experience as this could lead to serious injury. Take a look on stamfordtreeservices.com if you’re wanting your trees serviced professionally.

Anyway, I’m starting to get down to the last few trees in the orchard (and I may not be able to get them because the sap is starting to run). When the pruning is light, I can get through all 33 of my trees in a couple of days-assuming I can work all day at it and the weather isn’t too cold (or hot). This year it’s taking a bit longer because I’ve had a number of personal issues that have kept me from working full days outside. Even so, I normally don’t get the trees finished until the end of March or beginning of April, so I’m getting done early this year. As mentioned in Trimming the Trees (Part 1), when to prune is a matter of much debate. Some people prune their trees in the fall, some in mid-winter, and some a bit earlier in the spring than I do.

Part of pruning your trees is knowing how to prune that particular tree. For example, I visualize an umbrella shape when trimming apples. In fact, a lot of home growers use this particular shape. An umbrella shape is quite strong and tends to ensure a good harvest. In addition, the umbrella shape is easier to pick. Commercial orchards use a variety of other shapes, some of which work best when the pickers are working from the back of flatbed trucks. Some people tie down water sprouts to obtain the umbrella shape, which tends to stress the tree. I prefer to look for branches that are already heading in the right direction and trim off everything else. Water sprouts are branches that grow straight up from joints in the tree. You need to trim these off as they’ll never produce any fruit.

Our pears and cherries are dwarf trees with a strong central leader. When pruning these trees, I visualize a flame shape. The tree should be topped to keep it from growing too high. Yes, you’ll get fruit all the way up, but the problem is figuring out a way to pick it without damaging the tree. Keeping the tree down to between 14 feet and 16 feet high ensures that you can reach all of the fruit in fall. Water sprouts aren’t a problem with the central leader trimming technique. What you want to do is ensure that none of the branches are crossing and that the limbs aren’t overextended. Cherry trees require a significantly lighter hand than pears do. In fact, pear trees are quite forgiving when you over-prune them. Cherry trees are also stronger than pear trees. If you don’t trim your pear trees heavily enough, the limbs have a habit of breaking off at the crotch, especially in high winds.

Plum trees are just plain messy looking. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one that I would consider a beautifully shaped tree (at least, not one that produces fruit). Plum trees are normally trimmed using the open center approach. This technique relies on three or four branches attached to a main trunk. You don’t trim the tree heavily. In fact, unless there is some sort of problem with crossing branches or water sprouts, you don’t trim at all. Of all the trees, prunes are the least forgiving when it comes to over-pruning. They grow slowly, so taking off too much this year means paying for several years. Two of my prunes actually look more like a bushes than trees and I trim them quite carefully to keep them that way.

Some trees produce well every other year. My apples are this way. They’ll produce quite heavily one year and then take a vacation the next. With this in mind, I establish a pattern of trimming heavier on off years and lighter on production years. This way, I maximize the amount of fruit I get from the tree and still maintain it properly.

I haven’t personally tried my hand at growing anything more than apples, pears, plums, and cherries. However, the basic techniques I use likely apply to most fruit tree types. My next project is to try my hand at growing some nut trees. Hickory nuts and butternuts grow well in this area, so I’ll try them first. Unfortunately, we can’t grow English walnuts or you can be sure I’d be planting them. We can grow black walnuts, which work well in baked goods. The only technique I haven’t tried so far is the trellis technique of pruning for fruit trees. I’d love to hear from anyone who has tried it at [email protected]. In my last post (for now) on this topic, I plan to discuss some of the things you should look at on the tree while pruning.

 

Spring is on the Way

It would probably be hard for most people to accept the fact that spring is on the way, especially when they look outside on a snowbound day like this one:

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However, the fact of the matter is that spring really is on the way. It’s going to be an early spring, in fact. There are several things that tell me this. First, and possibly most important, the tree sap is starting to run again. In fact, the people around here who tap maple trees to make syrup have already done so, which is extremely early. I noticed that the trees in the woods also have sap running in them—at least the ones in our woods. I’ve never seen the sap run this early. (My uncle, who has lived a few years more than I have, says he has seen spring arrive this early in the past, but he wasn’t quite sure when, which tells me it was quite some time ago.)

Anyone who lives in the north will tell you that the air takes on a different quality in the spring. It has a different odor to it, or perhaps a different texture. I have yet to find a good way to quantify the difference, but the difference is unmistakeable. You take a good deep whiff and the air simply doesn’t quite smell like winter anymore. Perhaps there is the faintest hint of fresh greenery or some other element that looms at the horizon of human perception—present, but hard to identify. I smell it every spring and every spring I fail to pin down precisely what has changed.

Of course, most people want something a little more substantial than tree sap and odd smells, so there is also  the birds to consider. When we were trimming the trees the other day, we definitely noticed the springtime songs of birds. No, it’s not the wild kingdom effect—the raucous early morning expenditure of energy that birds have later in the spring, but it’s a gentler prelude, as if the symphony is about to begin.

There are going to be other signs. None of my flowers have started bursting through the soil as of yet. The buds on the trees are still shut tightly as well. However, it won’t be long and I’ll start to see bud swell, and then, one day I’ll look at my flower bed and see just an inkling of the springtime flowers peaking through to see if the coast is clear. Spring is most definitely on the way—the signs are all around for anyone who wants to look. What are your favorite indicators of spring? Let me know at [email protected].

 

Trimming the Trees (Part 1)

There are many different theories about trimming fruit trees. Talk to five orchards and you’ll likely hear five completely different tales of the precise technique that someone should use for trimming fruit trees. My own personal theory is to trim the trees later in the winter or early spring, before the sap begins to run, but after the majority of the hard winter weather is gone. The idea is to have fresh cuts to encourage growth, but also to let the cuts heal before the sap runs so that the tree won’t “bleed” from the trimming. Other people get Greenleaf tree pruning in Austin to trim in the fall or at other times during the fall to winter season. One thing you never want to do is to trim your fruit trees after the sap begins to run because the tree will lose too many nutrients that way.

Rebecca normally does the majority of the lower cutting. It’s time consuming work because you have to decide just which twigs to cut. Every twig has the potential to bear fruit, so what you’re really doing is cutting off fruit before the tree even has a chance to produce flowers. We trim a little bit away from joints to help prevent disease as shown here:

TreeTrimming01

Rebecca prefers a ratcheted hand pruner. It helps amplify her hand strength so that trimming the tree isn’t quite so hard. In addition, you can generally prune larger branches using a ratcheted pruner than you can other hand pruner types. There are many different types of trimmers and you should choose the type that works best for you. I generally use an anvil-style hand pruner. It requires significantly greater hand strength to use, but in exchange, I get cleaner cuts, I can trim the tree faster, and the pruner itself wears longer. I strongly recommend against using bypass hand pruners on trees because the blades tend to bend and not produce a clean cut. A bypass pruner works much like a scissor and the tree branch can become wedged between the two blades.

In addition to hand pruners, your tree trimming kit should include a lopper, which is used to cut thicker branches. I highly recommend a long handled geared lopper because it will last longer, produce smoother cuts, and require less muscle to use. A good lopper will enable you to cut branches up to 2-1/2 inches in diameter in most cases. The idea is to use the lopper whenever possible because it produces a smooth cut that won’t bleed as much.

At some point, you’ll encounter branches that you can’t cut using a pruner or a lopper. In this case, you must resort to using a pruning saw. As with pruners and loppers, pruning saws come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. When working with fruit trees, you want to get a curved razor tooth saw so that the cuts are as smooth as possible and you have the fullest possible range of motion. Remember that when you cut with a saw, you start by making a counter cut on the opposite side of your final cut. Then you make the final cut. If you don’t provide a counter cut, the branch could break or the bark could end up peeled from the tree, inviting disease.

All of the tools mentioned so far will cut up to around five feet of the tree’s height, but even a short fruit tree is six or seven feet (most are more). In order to trim the rest of the tree, you need a tree pruner of the sort shown here:

TreeTrimming02

This particular tree pruner is 14 feet long. The pole telescopes so I can make it shorter or longer as needed. Believe me, the ability to adjust the length is essential. The longer the pole, the more strength required to hold it up. After a few hours of using this tool, your shoulders are guaranteed to ache. Unlike most tree pruners, this tree pruner relies on a chain for the clipper head, which means that it’s a lot less likely to become tangled in the branches or get twisted. The chain also reduces friction so you don’t use as much muscle to cut the branches.

The tree pruner also has a razor saw for cutting larger branches. You have to develop a technique for cutting the branches because when you get up this high, they tend to sway back and forth with the saw, rather than being cut by it. I find that moving my whole body in the correct rhythm (counter to the tree sway) does the trick.

If possible, get a fiberglass pole. Wooden poles tend to get heavy and can sometimes start getting weathered (making them splinter). This pole also includes a foam pad, which feels a lot more comfortable on the underarm when I’m cutting up higher than shown in the picture.

That’s the equipment needed for tree trimming: hand pruner, pruning saw, lopper, and tree pruner. If you want to be 100% safe to avoid any unwanted tree accidents, I would recommend hiring a tree service to remove/trim the trees for you, rather than attempting it yourself. Safety has to be a priority and hiring a tree service to cut your trees is a great way to prevent common tree accidents. If you want to have a go yourself, to keep from spreading disease between trees, make sure you wipe your equipment down with alcohol after cutting a diseased tree. However, the alcohol rub will cause your equipment to rust. To keep that from happening, make sure you apply oil after the alcohol rub. Let me know if you have any questions or thoughts about equipment at [email protected]. I’ll continue this post next week with some insights into pruning techniques and things you should look for as you prune.