We're in the process of moving. It's going to take us a while, but as a part of all that I've spent the last few weekends trying to get the new house ready while it's still sitting empty. Mostly that means painting and cleaning or mowing the lawn, but yesterday I arrived to discover that storms had knocked down some pretty enormous tree limbs on top of our fence and into the yard.
I got a pruning saw and cut as much as I could, which turned out to be nearly everything except the heaviest part of the branch, a good twelve-foot section at least 24-inches around at the base. This was also the piece that lay on top of the fence, which seemed like a very precarious situation. The fence itself is made of steel wire, installed as a deterrent against the neighbor's grazing cows and horses, so it held up surprisingly well. Even so, I didn't think it was good for the fence to leave all that weight sitting on top.
I struggled a while trying to twist it this way and that, thinking if I could just push it far enough I could get it to roll itself off of the wire, but it didn't go very well. The branch was too heavy, for one thing, and I was working out there alone. The best I could do was to kind of hoist it up a few inches, but after that there was nowhere useful to go -- all I could do was set it back down on the fence, which was exactly the opposite of what I wanted to do.
I also kept having visions of the wire fence suddenly snapping. I imagined it would be like a broken guitar string, except that since this was a piece of industrial wire built to stop a full-grown cow it would snap with such force that it would slice me in half like that scene from Ghost Ship. So I would hoist the branch up, roll it around a little, then slowly lower back down on the fence, hoping that nothing would snap. I did this several times, which was not a deliberate attempt to tempt Fate, but sure must have looked like one.
Fortunately, Fate was busy with other things at that moment, so the wire held. I went inside and found a small stepladder, which I was able to position underneath the branch and relieve some of the weight on the wire. Then I bought a new pole saw.
I guess I have a nervous disposition, but by this point a full-sized chainsaw seemed like a sure-fire way to get myself killed, or at the very least lose a limb. I'd already dropped a log on my foot and taken a blow to the arm by that point, and I took both these injuries as proof I was an inexpert branch trimmer at best. Adding a chainsaw to the equation seemed like a terrible idea.
But a chainsaw on a stick? That seemed more promising. Plus, the blade of a pole saw is only eight inches. As I type this, I realize that's still plenty enough to do serious damage to oneself, but when you're standing there in the aisle at Lowe's and comparing the two, the pole saw seems very sensible.
"Oh, no, I'm not one of those extremists you see waving around full-size chainsaws. I use a moderate chainsaw. On a stick!"
By the time I got back to the branch, the neighbor's horses were out and grazing right by the fence. Beautiful animals, but also very large, and there were three of them gathered together eyeing me somewhat suspiciously.
Which, I can't say I blame them. If I were a prey animal and saw someone approach with a chainsaw, I think I'd get a little bit spooked. So while my ideal cutting position would have been on the neighbor's side of the fence, I decided I'd rather cut from an awkward angle than get stamped into paste by a small herd of horses.
In the end, the pole saw worked fine. Angle notwithstanding, I cut enough off the limb that it finally snapped and took all its weight off the wire. I stood there, admiring my work for a moment and feeling grateful to be in one piece, when I became aware that the horses were watching. I turned to look just as they turned to leave, but not without a final snort as they went. The horses were not so impressed.