One of our ongoing home improvement projects is the removal of an oak stump in the side yard. We dig. Well, I dig and my 4-year-old son, Sean, plays in the dirt.
Now this isn’t just any old stump, this monster of a stump stands about six to seven feet tall and spans probably 4 ½ feet across. Realistically, you’d need a bulldozer.
I don’t have a bulldozer (though Sean would love it if I did). I don’t even own a chainsaw, but I have good selection of shovels and a fair bit (ironic understatement in case you missed the tone) of resolve. And I have my helper who loves to dig.
Most of our time digging involves him saying, “Deedaw (his name for me), can you fill my shovel and that’s a mighty big load.” Which he promptly dumps back into the hole. (His comprehension of what we’re trying to do is a bit less goal-orientated than mine).
It’s all in all in good fun.
I’ve learned that digging is hard work and the closer to the roots you get, the more difficult it becomes. Those pesky roots go crazy directions with no rhyme or reason. Pretty much stick a shovel in the ground and you’re going to hit a root, move over and you hit another root. It’s not the work of digging it’s the slow painful lack of progression that is painful.
The tree fell, before we moved there, during the tornados that hit Tullahoma a few years back. My father-in-law was cutting the trunk when, wham, the root ball and stump stood back up, into the canted –half fallen position it has remained since.
The eyesore of a stump left a huge hole in the front of all places and a jagged step on the back side of the root ball that was up in the air. To get an idea of the size of this stump, the roots that snapped in the front are as large as a mature maple tree.
Can you dig it?
After two seasons of digging, we have excavated large pits on two sides of the tree. I have this crazy fantasy that one day a shovel load will be the turning point and the whole thing will fall over and uproot itself again. But so far that final shovelful has proven to be as elusive as finding the end of the root system. The other night, however, I noticed a large hole had rotted in the base of the trunk. It seems Mother Nature is doing a pretty good job of breaking down the trunk on her own.
Still, we press on
So with renewed vigor, we attacked the stump over the weekend. I was able to dig up one of those maple-sized roots, the petrified one that dulled my father-in-law’s chainsaw the last time he worked on it with us.
As night closed in, I was able to tunnel under the main trunk a bit, pulling out a few cubic yards of rotting wood and dirt before it got too dark outside.
But the stump remains. I’ve chewed at it with an axe and dug, and dug and dug like a mad groundhog, and that stubborn stump still won’t budge.