War of stumping stumps will have many battles

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My mother knew absolutely nothing about gardening, but for reasons that no one fully understood she was on a mission to fill our backyard with one of every kind of tree in the known universe, even if these trees were never intended to withstand the bitter cold of a Winnipeg winter.

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Opinion

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 02/07/2022 (221 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

My mother knew absolutely nothing about gardening, but for reasons that no one fully understood she was on a mission to fill our backyard with one of every kind of tree in the known universe, even if these trees were never intended to withstand the bitter cold of a Winnipeg winter.

The point is three of these trees finally gave up the ghost this year, and my wife, She Who Must Not Be Named, is not the sort of person to let a dead tree rest in peace, so to speak.

Which is why she asked my buddy Bob — who along with being the publisher of this newspaper owns his own chainsaw — to drop by and chop them down, which he did Sunday afternoon.

TIM SMITH / BRANDON SUN FILES The Battle of the Back Yard Stumps has just begun.

Unfortunately, when Bob arrived, he discovered that his chainsaw refused to start, eventually forcing my buddy to confess that he had no idea what the problem was, hang his head, and return home in defeat.

The good news is that, about 30 minutes later, Bob came back and proudly announced: “Apparently there is nothing wrong with the chainsaw. It seems I just forgot to turn off the safety. Ha ha.”

Seconds later, the chainsaw roared to life and, within moments, the dead trees were toppled and turned into kindling for our firepit. Which is how I ended up facing the Herculean homeowner task of having to figure out how to rid my yard of three medium-sized stumps.

Normally, when it comes to jobs of this nature, I follow a two-step procedure, namely: 1) frown at the problem and perspire heavily; 2) call someone more competent than myself and pay them to take care of the problem.

But — and prepare to be incredibly proud of me — I have informed my wife that I am going to summon my inner pioneering spirit and tackle these stumps with my own two hands.

Before you start offering tips, allow me to say I am familiar with the major stump-removal methods, such as using dynamite to blow them into smithereens. Given the fact that I have almost burned our house to the ground while using both my propane barbecue and portable pizza oven, my wife has informed me the dynamite option is not on the table.

Of course, you can always rent a stump grinder, which is a nasty machine that looks like a lawnmower and a circular saw had an extremely ugly baby equipped with a scary rotating blade that chews a stump into bite-sized chips of wood.

Again, my spouse argued this was not a viable option, because, even though I am mostly retired, she believes I still need the majority of my limbs. She was also not fond of the notion of dumping powerful chemicals on the stumps to turn them into mush.

So what I have been doing for the past few days is trying to get rid of these stumps in the old-fashioned way, which is kind of the reverse of planting a tree.

When you plant a tree, the idea is to dig a hole, stick a tree in the hole, then fill the rest of the hole with dirt. My method for removing our back yard stumps involves these proven steps:

Find a shovel and dig a hole around the stump;

Rest your head on top of the shovel and stare at the hole until you realize it is not nearly big enough;

Resume digging until your hands become slick with sweat, at which point you will lose your grip on the shovel and accidentally fling it across the yard into your wife’s vegetable garden;

Retrieve the shovel and dig down until you strike a bunch of rock-hard roots, then start slamming the pointy part of the shovel on top of the roots because you think that is somehow going to help;

Dig deeper until you strike even more (bad word) roots, at which you point begin shrieking the sort of words that cannot be published in a family newspaper, thereby causing your neighbours to get out of their pool and wander over to the fence to see if you are being attacked by an escaped wolverine.

Give the stump a menacing look, trudge back inside your house to obtain a refreshing beverage, then lie down on the couch in your den to plot your next attack on a stump that is far more dangerous than you realized.

My next step is to look through our messy garage to find our old hatchet, which I should be able to use to whack away at the roots, which won’t be easy because a thick steel rod that my parents stuck into the ground to help the now-dead tree grow tall and strong is now trapped under the bottom of the stump.

But I am not about to admit defeat. The Battle of the Back Yard Stumps has just begun. I am confident that, with a little persistence and just possibly a flamethrower, I will get to the root of the problem.

dougspeirs65@gmail.com

Doug Speirs

Doug Speirs
Columnist

Doug has held almost every job at the newspaper — reporter, city editor, night editor, tour guide, hand model — and his colleagues are confident he’ll eventually find something he is good at.

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