Tuesday, July 24, 2018

November Hill farm journal, 58

I took this photo several weeks ago while waiting for Duke Energy tree crews to arrive and begin the cutting of the trees we negotiated allowing them to take down at the back of our property. What I was aiming to focus in on was the woodpecker who appears as the black thing mid-photo. I had mistakenly done the alarm call for birds thinking it would send them away, but as daughter reminded me later it BRINGS them, so I was suddenly surrounded by birds including two of these huge and gorgeous woodpeckers.

What I now see in the photo is the huge X. In runic tradition, X is Gebo, and generally represents a gift. It’s interesting that I didn’t see this that day as I looked up, but it is so prominent now.

The first day of cutting proceeded. The local Duke supervisor was there and the crews, employees of Burford Tree Services, were contracted by Duke to do the job. There was a bucket truck crew and a tree crew. With the known to us by now Duke supervisor on site I felt things were well in hand, and I told him I’d leave them to do their work. The first day went pretty well. The crews arrived much later than expected and they closed up shop by 4 p.m. so not that much actually got done. (I later learned they supposedly work 4 10-hour days but this is not what we experienced that week)

On the second day around 11 a.m. (they showed up for work around 9:30) I heard yelling, not work-related but like someone was having a party on the back of our farm. The single chainsaw was revving repeatedly, and when I got down to the back to see what was going on, I found huge branches  laying on the fence, the f-word being hurled in all directions, one guy in our tree while four stood on the ground doing nothing. Across the way in two bucket trucks were another five or so workers doing nothing.

I asked where the supervisor was and no one spoke. All the yelling and cursing stopped and even when I repeatedly asked who was in charge, silence. I told the tree crew to get the branches off the fence. No response. At that point I got louder and more commanding and finally one guy got the branches off the fence and another guy, who identified himself as the foreman, walked over. He was surly and unhelpful. I wanted to know why they were making so much noise, why they were not working, and why they thought bellowing the f-word so loud I could hear hear it on my back porch was professional, appropriate work behavior.

Again, no response from the foreman. I called the Duke supervisor who told me his truck was being repaired which was why he wasn’t on site. I told him what was going on and he said he was on the way. I was so upset I called my husband, who came home from work and supervised the back of the farm for the rest of the day, along with the area and regional supervisors from Duke, who later told me there were too many men on the job site with not enough work to do.

We also found trash dumped all over the place by the crews. Duke employees cleaned it up.

On Thursday the supervisor told me the tree crew had been sent home and told if they wanted to come back the following Monday, they would need to come prepared to behave like professionals. The bucket crew worked about a 7-hour day that Thursday, getting most of the trees outside our property line (but adjacent to a section of our fencing) down.

They have never come back. We’ve had rain and I’m not sure if that has made it impossible for them to work but none of what they had planned to do is complete. On one hand, it’s a relief not to have them here, but on another, it’s just dragging this out. We have timber that needs to be stacked and dried for the sawmill guy.

I’m not sure what the gift in all this is, but at the end of the third and final work day that week, the Duke supervisors asked if I could leave the back gate open because there was a very young fawn inside our back fence. With all the chaos back there I’m not sure why or how the fawn ended up there, but at least it was safe! We checked on it after dark and it was still there, so we left the gate open and made a hay trail leading out hoping its mother would come back for it. In the morning it was gone.

Since that week we’ve had peace and quiet and a lot of rain on November Hill. Yesterday we had such a deluge I was out at the barn with shovel and rake shifting water flow by trenching the rain away from the barn. We’re in the midst of doing some work back there anyway to redo some old French drains and put in grids in the barn and shelters, but this was stop-gap work to keep things from flooding near the barn.

The rain is a gift for sure but sometimes when it rains, it pours!

The herd is happy to have a break from the high heat. Yesterday, as the storm blew in, Keil left his double stall and stood in the doorway of the barn, looking out, watching the rain fall. It was peaceful in the barn and one of my favorite places to be when the weather gets a little crazy. For the horses the barn is shelter from the storm and the heat and the biting insects. For me, it’s a different kind of shelter, one that empties my mind of all that’s crazy in the world.

I suppose that is the big gift, right there.


Grey Horse Matters said...

The work crew doesn’t seem very professional. Maybe the gift is that they were fired and won’t come back! We’ve had rain too and we needed it badly. Hope the littl fawn found its mama.

billie said...

Their behavior was frankly appalling - I suspect the company (Burford Tree based in Alabama) is fine with it as there are many complaints about them online and their Facebook company page has posts by employees that sound like locker room talk. I wondered if Duke may have decided to get someone else to do our trees since they know I’m not going to tolerate asshattery on or near my property.

I too hope the fawn found its mom. We kept an eye out for it the next few days and haven’t seen it, and I haven’t seen any adult deer nearby killed by vehicles so I’m hoping somehow mom put the baby there and then couldn’t come back until evening due to all the commotion. (We created some of our own when we tried to gently herd the fawn out that night!)