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A Little Off the Top
Wednesday 29th of September 2010 07:10 AM
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By Kim L. Fritzemeier

KFRM Central Kansas Reporter

Farm Wife along the Stafford/Reno County Line

You know that feeling when you first get a dramatic new haircut and you wonder if you've made a horrible mistake? You look in the mirror and you hardly recognize yourself. (I am such a stick-in-the-mud that it doesn't happen often to me because I don't change my hair on a whim. But if you've ever lived with a teenage girl, you know what I mean. The simplest of hair trims can be a red-alert crisis.)

That's kind of how I feel when I drive home from the north these days. Our shelterbelt to the north of the house has had a little "taken off the top." Actually, it was more than a trim. The first row of trees has been scalped.

It's all for a good cause, however. Our rural electric company has contracted with some tree companies to trim trees and limbs away from the power poles. The company that worked in our area gave us options. We could have the trees trimmed. Or we could have a row taken out. We opted for removal.

You might opt for removal, too, if you'd experienced what we did three winters ago. We were without electricity for 12 days after an ice storm in December 2007. The best Christmas present that year was getting the electricity back on a couple of days before Christmas Eve.

I know removing the trees along our road isn't going to keep my lights on indefinitely. But I also know there are tree crews trimming all over Ark Valley Electric's service area, using FEMA disaster funds. We can always hope it will help, right?


 

This is the before picture. You can see the trees in relation to the power pole. There wasn't a lot of wiggle room there for falling branches in an ice storm.

The electric company is also replacing some poles to further strengthen the infrastructure. (Note to self: You need to get your Cat Crossing sign off the pole before it disappears forever.) According to the tree crew, the "R" stands for removal. The yellow stake shows where they will put another pole in its place. (Thank goodness! I will admit I am an electricity addict. Withdrawal for this addiction is agony.)

 

The crews worked a couple of days sawing down the trees and turning some of them into wood chips and some into firewood.

 

We have a couple of fireplaces in our house, but we don't burn wood in them anymore. The last time we tried it, we had 25-plus people coming to Thanksgiving dinner and it smoked up the house. (No, it was not my cooking!) No amount of visits from a chimney sweep seemed to fix the problem.

 

But a neighbor came and picked up the wood and plans to use it at his house, as well as share it with some of his family members.

It really looks different when you drive in from the north these days. And, if you're a regular reader, you know how much I love change (sarcasm alert!).

All the time the tree crew was working, I kept thinking about the shelterbelt that my parents added to the south of my childhood home one summer. My sister and I carried water to the trees and hoed them all summer long. I wondered if some little boy or girl had hauled water and hoed weeds to establish these trees along the County Line to protect the house from the north winds. How would they feel to see their "work" crashing down years later?

But there are definitely some positive sides to the change. We can see traffic coming from the north much more clearly now (Not that there's much, but we do get a little traffic along the County Line).

And I'm still holding out hope that it will help us during the next ice storm.

Honestly, tree trimming and removal probably isn't going to make much impact on ice as thick as we had in 2007.

Power line after power line was gone along the Zenith Road.


Our front yard looked like a combat zone.

 

It was the same in the back yard.

 

The electric fence was weighted down with ice. Unfortunately, the electric lines looked like this in many places, too.


 

About the only good thing to come out of the ice storm was the feeling of camaraderie among neighbors and a few amazing photos. Here's proof there were a few pretty images of ice in the trees.


 

So, much as I love photos like this, I will gladly keep my electric lines, thank you very much.

Just to show them how much I appreciated them, I took pop and cookies out to the crew two times. Come to think of it, did they come back the next day just for my cookies? (No, but they did tell Randy that the cookies sure were good.)

***

For more information about me and my family, check out my personal blog at www.kimscountyline.blogspot.com

 
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