Pulled in at 1:00 pm and noticed a welcome change right away. The truck box is gone! Peter hauled it over to Danny’s. Sure, it’s only moved a few hundred feet, but at least it’s out of the driveway and off of the property.

Ding dong, the box is gone.

I parked by the pole barn and started layering up. I brought my Carhartt bibs and jacket, balaclava, and warm gloves and hat since it’s just below 10° F out (sadly, this is the warmest day we’ve had in a week) and I’ll be spending this entire trip outdoors. A few days ago, I saw Peter’s truck on the pole barn camera. When Dad asked him what he was checking out, Peter mentioned he would have free use of a Skytrak (large, all-terrain boom lift) for a few days and wanted to know if we were still thinking of trimming the trees leaning over the pole barn. I jumped at the chance, which is why I took a half day off of work to meet him here today.

While waiting for Peter to show up, I carried my propane heater over to the keep and fired it up. So far, the little UPS heater seems to be doing its job admirably, but it’s been so consistently cold this past week that it has never turned off. I want to make sure the thermostatic switch does its thing when the temps rise above 30° F. This will serve as a test of the switch as well as give me a nice warm place to change out of my winter gear when we’re done today.

By the time I was done in the keep, Peter was back. We walked around the pole barn to size up the task ahead, moving a few things away from the sides of the building to make room for the Skytrak and give us some clear lanes to throw branches. Since the Skytrak is controlled from the ground, Peter had asked if I could round anyone else up to help me in the bucket—one guy doing the cutting, the other guy catching the logs and branches as they’re cut and dropping them away from the pole barn. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get Red or Paco on short notice, Farmer Joe’s got a newborn daughter on top of his regularly demanding schedule, and I didn’t think Sean would fly out from Colorado just for this. I was going to have to tackle the trimming solo.

Or so I thought. Peter called his buddy Rich Zodrow from down the road and he soon pulled up the driveway. Rich is a contractor and has experience driving equipment like this, which is a plus. Peter and I climbed into the basket and Rich started moving us around. I’m not terrified of heights, but I’m also not a fan. Being 40 feet in the air in a jostling, swaying bucket didn’t do much to change my mind about that, either. I kept warm by way of sheer adrenaline as Peter started carving up tree limbs and trunks and I grabbed them while staying as far back in the basket as possible.

It went smoother than I had expected. We couldn’t reach the highest branches, but we got all the ones that were directly threatening the pole barn. This really opened up the sky above the building and is going to make it much, much easier and safer to fell these trees later and finish the job. We got through the entire west side of the pole barn very quickly, so we hit up a few pine branches on the east side, too. I don’t intend on dropping those trees any time soon, but they look a lot better now that they’re trimmed.

As we were finishing up, Danny pulled in from his backyard trail entrance. Peter and I returned to earth and the four of us BS’d for a bit. Turns out Rich’s main focus is the construction and renovation of pole buildings. I got his card and we’ll need to keep him in mind for when we eventually build the second garage. Rich had to go pick up his kid and Peter needed to head out, so we said our goodbyes and I headed for the keep to thaw out.

It was almost 90° when I stepped inside. That propane heater doesn’t mess around. I lost my layers and checked on the UPS heater, which was cool to the touch. The thermostatic switch is working as intended. I closed up the keep, packed up my gear, admired the day’s handiwork, and was on my way out around 3:30.