Saturday, November 21, 2009

Getting Second Opinions

In the craziness of it all, I find myself falling into the foolish trap of not getting second opinions. Sometimes it's just easier to go with whatever comes first, but you really suffer because of it. Like my Mentor is always telling me, information is free, so take as much of it as you can. Call me an idiot (my mom always does), but I just feel like I'm inconveniencing these guys by having them come all the way out here. If he's reading this, my Mentor is shaking his head and wondering to himself, "Where did I go wrong with this one."

The reason that this is coming up is because we have some trees behind the barn that need to be taken down. My Mentor brought over some lumberjack types that he knows and they determined that about six trees needed to be taken down. They came up with a quote and we left it at that. Of course, I sat on it for a few months, because I'm a slacker slob, but also because something just didn't sit well with me. The plan was to cut down some really tall pines that might have fallen on the barn. Two of them really need to be removed, they literally hang over the roof of the barn, but the other four were not as dangerous, though if they fell on the barn, it wouldn't be good.

My concern was two fold. First off, the loggers said they had no use for the pines, so the plan was to simply fell the trees and let them rot in the woods. This is standard practice and I can appreciate the ecological benefit that would result, but six tall pines? Which brought up my second concern: that's a lot of lumber that is not only going to waste, but will litter up the woods. I thought that if anyone wanted to take the trees, they could have them for free. I just didn't want to make a mess. The entire community uses these woods to ski or walk, and to dump a bunch of dead trees was not appealing to me. I guess I felt bad.

Anyway, as part of my effort to be more assertive, I decided that I could no longer waste time fretting about it. The time had come to get the guy out here to cut the trees down. The original appeal of this guy was that his father was extremely experienced in the ways of logging. Plus, his original quote seemed reasonable for the number of trees. When he came out again, however, his father was no longer in the picture, and his quote had doubled. The guy is young and seems to be just getting started. I understand the difficulty of the job, but twice the price? It made me pause and tell him we had to think about it. It didn't help when he told me that he'd lost his license and was relying on his girlfriend to get around. This is information that does not instill a client with confidence, but is probably better left unsaid.

After talking to my Mentor, who expressed concern and reservation at the jump in price, I decided to do what I should have done from the beginning - get a second opinion. On the subject of trees, this is especially true when you live in Vermont, where you can't spit without hitting someone who is either a logger or knows of one. Plus, living in the wonderful community that we have, there are tons or resources. So I called my neighbor, who is a forester and has in the past sold me rough cut wood. His name is GC. He came over, looked at the trees, and said two of them had to go, but didn't think the other four were crucial.

He also said he'd come over and take the logs off the land, and give me some boards when he milled them. Plus, in terms of the maple, he would only use the bottom 10-15 feet, so I could get the rest for firewood. This was the original plan, but in reality, I couldn't cut and split the bottom portion of the tree because my chainsaw is not manly enough. One day...

Either way, I was excited. Not only was it possible that we didn't have to cut down half the forest, but we didn't have to litter it, either. For the record, several people had indicated that it was not critical to cut down all six trees, only two. In fact, the only person who said they all needed to come down was the young logger.

GC also gave me the name of a tree guy (arborist?) that he knew and trusted, whom I called and is coming over on Monday. I'm stoked, and am hoping this all works out. We shall see.

The take home lesson in all this is to get second and even third opinions. This applies to most things in life, don't just take what's handed to you, fight for your rights. Nobody else will, nor should they. It's your life.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Jeri Gray for the pic.

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