Tree work is not for everyone… The importance of listening to your minds voice

Lupin_IV

Participating member
Location
St Paul
Hello all,



I’m just over two years into tree work. Prior to this, I lived nomadically in my van and was completely unable to hold any type of job. Found a great girl, started to get it together, then found tree work. Been enthralled ever since. Been doing my own thing for about 6 months now with my brother, who came from an auto mechanic background. We are equal part owners in our company. I’m in the tree, he is the ground. This results in some conflict as we are older, I have experience and he does not, but for the most part he does well.

I had the intention of going off on my own, trying to start a preservation-minded company. I had a kid 6 months ago as well, leaving me with less time to search for work and most of it on my brother. He’s turned on to tree work in a different way - removals are highball shit and make your dick look 6 feet long if you’re even 5% involved. A big portion of the work that presented itself was much larger removals than I had experience to do. In my brothers eye, a company does not turn down work. It looks weak, loses referral potential, blah blah blah. Quite a few large removals start to happen that I didn’t even go look at, or what was originally say a reduction prune of a large defective silver maple branch turned into a full removal (38” dbh).

im embarrassed to admit but I don’t have the strongest will. I definitely bitched my concerns, but nonetheless I did the work. To make a long story short, I started to develop massive anxiety in the tree. Mostly due to fear of being killed or disabled and not being able to experience life with my son the way I hope to. In an effort to stick to our “schedule” (which has now been done away with) I was in the tree for extremely long periods of time. 7+ hours of gogogogogo. I do not like coming down from the tree. I don’t like to eat and it can be tough to drink enough water to prevent muscle cramps in those situations. I begin obsessing over little things that will save a few minutes to get home sooner, because I know when I come down I still have hours of cleanup which will result in a 12 hour day. Everyone on here knows that’s the most dangerous possible mindset to have and is how true tragedies happen.

I have since had a conversation with my brother. We are going to slow things down, but I worry the damage is already done. I wake up very early and as of late, my mornings are unreasonably consumed with dread that today is the day I go up and something happens. We both have a lot of our money in this, and his income completely relies on me being able to go up there. I didn’t realize it would bet here at all, but it’s a tough burden. There’s so much I overlooked about all of tree work.

Sorry for the rant folks. The main point is that we have to listen to our minds and know when to walk away. The lifestyle works for some but not others, and can be so unbelievably grueling on the body. There’s nothing wrong with saying it’s all of a sudden too much. It’s not like construction or other industries with prefabricated man made materials, trees are wildly unpredictable. You can have a good idea of the risk, but you can’t see inside every last foot of the tree. Indeed, some are born for this and work for 40 years and could go for more. Those people have one of the greatest qualities a mind can have, but not everyone has it and everyone’s situation is different. Gotta recognize when to call it.

Cheers friends.
 

Mark Chisholm

Administrator
Administrator
Hello all,



I’m just over two years into tree work. Prior to this, I lived nomadically in my van and was completely unable to hold any type of job. Found a great girl, started to get it together, then found tree work. Been enthralled ever since. Been doing my own thing for about 6 months now with my brother, who came from an auto mechanic background. We are equal part owners in our company. I’m in the tree, he is the ground. This results in some conflict as we are older, I have experience and he does not, but for the most part he does well.

I had the intention of going off on my own, trying to start a preservation-minded company. I had a kid 6 months ago as well, leaving me with less time to search for work and most of it on my brother. He’s turned on to tree work in a different way - removals are highball shit and make your dick look 6 feet long if you’re even 5% involved. A big portion of the work that presented itself was much larger removals than I had experience to do. In my brothers eye, a company does not turn down work. It looks weak, loses referral potential, blah blah blah. Quite a few large removals start to happen that I didn’t even go look at, or what was originally say a reduction prune of a large defective silver maple branch turned into a full removal (38” dbh).

im embarrassed to admit but I don’t have the strongest will. I definitely bitched my concerns, but nonetheless I did the work. To make a long story short, I started to develop massive anxiety in the tree. Mostly due to fear of being killed or disabled and not being able to experience life with my son the way I hope to. In an effort to stick to our “schedule” (which has now been done away with) I was in the tree for extremely long periods of time. 7+ hours of gogogogogo. I do not like coming down from the tree. I don’t like to eat and it can be tough to drink enough water to prevent muscle cramps in those situations. I begin obsessing over little things that will save a few minutes to get home sooner, because I know when I come down I still have hours of cleanup which will result in a 12 hour day. Everyone on here knows that’s the most dangerous possible mindset to have and is how true tragedies happen.

I have since had a conversation with my brother. We are going to slow things down, but I worry the damage is already done. I wake up very early and as of late, my mornings are unreasonably consumed with dread that today is the day I go up and something happens. We both have a lot of our money in this, and his income completely relies on me being able to go up there. I didn’t realize it would bet here at all, but it’s a tough burden. There’s so much I overlooked about all of tree work.

Sorry for the rant folks. The main point is that we have to listen to our minds and know when to walk away. The lifestyle works for some but not others, and can be so unbelievably grueling on the body. There’s nothing wrong with saying it’s all of a sudden too much. It’s not like construction or other industries with prefabricated man made materials, trees are wildly unpredictable. You can have a good idea of the risk, but you can’t see inside every last foot of the tree. Indeed, some are born for this and work for 40 years and could go for more. Those people have one of the greatest qualities a mind can have, but not everyone has it and everyone’s situation is different. Gotta recognize when to call it.

Cheers friends.
That's a pretty deep post. Glad to read it. I would agree with you and like to encourage you on two points-

1- Don't beat yourself about feeling overwhelmed or less than prepared. That is a natural feeling that we all can experience at different stages of our career. It doesn't mean that you will continue to feel that way forever.

2- Maybe you are doing yourself an injustice by tackling larger, more intircate removals without more help? The answer could be to either find someone more experienced than you to hire or sub in for these jobs and get the experience and mentorship that will enable you to feel more confident to do them yourself. There's also nothing wrong with turning jobs down. There are plenty of other trees out there that will allow you to feed your family and not push you too far.


The one thing I really see in your post is your self awareness. That is a great quality to have and one that will help you stay safe if you listen to it. I wouldn't advise you to harp on the dangers while in the midst of climbing. Just knowing what they are, creating a plan around them and then executing that plan with confidence is a great approach. Watch and learn woth every move and also from everyone you can.
 

Njdelaney

Branched out member
Location
Detroit
Working with family can be really hard. There are so many boundaries that are tougher to draw with a brother than with a stranger, and there is so much more wrapped up in every interaction and decision. I worked for my younger brother for awhile doing large scale concrete construction and I learned that he and I can reach the same end result but have polar opposite ways of getting there and that created so much stress and tension in the process that it just wasn't worth it. I took a different path and it was the right choice. My .02 on the family dynamic part of your post.
 

southsoundtree

Been here a while
Location
Olympia, WA
Doing big removals by hand sucks. You need a material handler.
Probably more experience for big trees.
No cleanup if you can, after so long climbing.

Go down, come back up.
Don't get mad at a car running out of gas and oil, or expect it to be OK. Refuel and relube.


Lots of sleep/ rest will make you more productive.

Hire out anything you can, reasonably...house cleaning, for example.


Bid higher, work 7-8 hours onsite.
 

rico

Been here a while
Location
redwoods
Hello all,



I’m just over two years into tree work. Prior to this, I lived nomadically in my van and was completely unable to hold any type of job. Found a great girl, started to get it together, then found tree work. Been enthralled ever since. Been doing my own thing for about 6 months now with my brother, who came from an auto mechanic background. We are equal part owners in our company. I’m in the tree, he is the ground. This results in some conflict as we are older, I have experience and he does not, but for the most part he does well.

I had the intention of going off on my own, trying to start a preservation-minded company. I had a kid 6 months ago as well, leaving me with less time to search for work and most of it on my brother. He’s turned on to tree work in a different way - removals are highball shit and make your dick look 6 feet long if you’re even 5% involved. A big portion of the work that presented itself was much larger removals than I had experience to do. In my brothers eye, a company does not turn down work. It looks weak, loses referral potential, blah blah blah. Quite a few large removals start to happen that I didn’t even go look at, or what was originally say a reduction prune of a large defective silver maple branch turned into a full removal (38” dbh).

im embarrassed to admit but I don’t have the strongest will. I definitely bitched my concerns, but nonetheless I did the work. To make a long story short, I started to develop massive anxiety in the tree. Mostly due to fear of being killed or disabled and not being able to experience life with my son the way I hope to. In an effort to stick to our “schedule” (which has now been done away with) I was in the tree for extremely long periods of time. 7+ hours of gogogogogo. I do not like coming down from the tree. I don’t like to eat and it can be tough to drink enough water to prevent muscle cramps in those situations. I begin obsessing over little things that will save a few minutes to get home sooner, because I know when I come down I still have hours of cleanup which will result in a 12 hour day. Everyone on here knows that’s the most dangerous possible mindset to have and is how true tragedies happen.

I have since had a conversation with my brother. We are going to slow things down, but I worry the damage is already done. I wake up very early and as of late, my mornings are unreasonably consumed with dread that today is the day I go up and something happens. We both have a lot of our money in this, and his income completely relies on me being able to go up there. I didn’t realize it would bet here at all, but it’s a tough burden. There’s so much I overlooked about all of tree work.

Sorry for the rant folks. The main point is that we have to listen to our minds and know when to walk away. The lifestyle works for some but not others, and can be so unbelievably grueling on the body. There’s nothing wrong with saying it’s all of a sudden too much. It’s not like construction or other industries with prefabricated man made materials, trees are wildly unpredictable. You can have a good idea of the risk, but you can’t see inside every last foot of the tree. Indeed, some are born for this and work for 40 years and could go for more. Those people have one of the greatest qualities a mind can have, but not everyone has it and everyone’s situation is different. Gotta recognize when to call it.

Cheers friends.
Do you drink coffee Lupin? If so I would stop immediately and see if you begin to feel better...Just as treework is not for everyone, neither is coffee. It can cause massive stress, fear, and anxiety in some. Combined with a dangerous occupation and it can become even more potent....
 

Reach

Been here a while
Location
Atglen, PA
Working with family can be really hard. There are so many boundaries that are tougher to draw with a brother than with a stranger, and there is so much more wrapped up in every interaction and decision. I worked for my younger brother for awhile doing large scale concrete construction and I learned that he and I can reach the same end result but have polar opposite ways of getting there and that created so much stress and tension in the process that it just wasn't worth it. I took a different path and it was the right choice. My .02 on the family dynamic part of your post.
I’ll second that! I hired my little brother to run one of my companies a couple years ago, and to say the least it did not go well and unfortunately he stopped speaking with me because of it. We are slowly beginning to rebuild our relationship, five years later, but it’s very slow going to say the least.
 

Reach

Been here a while
Location
Atglen, PA
Do you drink coffee Lupin? If so I would stop immediately and see if you begin to feel better...Just as treework is not for everyone, neither is coffee. It can cause massive stress, fear, and anxiety in some. Combined with a dangerous occupation and it can become even more potent....
It sure can! I am one who cannot drink coffee, I get all kinds of nervous and jittery, to the point of the above referenced illogical anxiety that can be near paralyzing. Don’t know why, but I know enough to avoid the stuff. Decaf is a little better, but I still am best to avoid it altogether.
 

Crimsonking

Carpal tunnel level member
It sure can! I am one who cannot drink coffee, I get all kinds of nervous and jittery, to the point of the above referenced illogical anxiety that can be near paralyzing. Don’t know why, but I know enough to avoid the stuff. Decaf is a little better, but I still am best to avoid it altogether.
Short derail- my wife found a coffee that I’m going to try this week that is supposed to be much better for those of us who get the jitters. I love coffee and hate what it does to me at work, so I’m experimenting.

I’ll make a thread about it if it does the trick.
 

Reach

Been here a while
Location
Atglen, PA
Short derail- my wife found a coffee that I’m going to try this week that is supposed to be much better for those of us who get the jitters. I love coffee and hate what it does to me at work, so I’m experimenting.

I’ll make a thread about it if it does the trick.
Sounds good, you’ve got me curious! I would like a dairy free (lactose and I have some strong disagreements) drink that isn’t tea and doesn’t come with side effects.
 

Dan Cobb

Branched out member
Location
Hoover
Without coffee, I run about like a saw without oil in the gas.

More on topic, I have no problem turning down work. Working solo, I'm not interested in jobs that need a crew or require cranes, lifts, etc. I have plenty of work in my niche. IMHO, it's much better to turn down a job than take it and have it go badly for me and/or the client.
 

evo

Been here a while
Location
My Island, WA
Hello all,



I’m just over two years into tree work. Prior to this, I lived nomadically in my van and was completely unable to hold any type of job. Found a great girl, started to get it together, then found tree work. Been enthralled ever since. Been doing my own thing for about 6 months now with my brother, who came from an auto mechanic background. We are equal part owners in our company. I’m in the tree, he is the ground. This results in some conflict as we are older, I have experience and he does not, but for the most part he does well.

I had the intention of going off on my own, trying to start a preservation-minded company. I had a kid 6 months ago as well, leaving me with less time to search for work and most of it on my brother. He’s turned on to tree work in a different way - removals are highball shit and make your dick look 6 feet long if you’re even 5% involved. A big portion of the work that presented itself was much larger removals than I had experience to do. In my brothers eye, a company does not turn down work. It looks weak, loses referral potential, blah blah blah. Quite a few large removals start to happen that I didn’t even go look at, or what was originally say a reduction prune of a large defective silver maple branch turned into a full removal (38” dbh).

im embarrassed to admit but I don’t have the strongest will. I definitely bitched my concerns, but nonetheless I did the work. To make a long story short, I started to develop massive anxiety in the tree. Mostly due to fear of being killed or disabled and not being able to experience life with my son the way I hope to. In an effort to stick to our “schedule” (which has now been done away with) I was in the tree for extremely long periods of time. 7+ hours of gogogogogo. I do not like coming down from the tree. I don’t like to eat and it can be tough to drink enough water to prevent muscle cramps in those situations. I begin obsessing over little things that will save a few minutes to get home sooner, because I know when I come down I still have hours of cleanup which will result in a 12 hour day. Everyone on here knows that’s the most dangerous possible mindset to have and is how true tragedies happen.

I have since had a conversation with my brother. We are going to slow things down, but I worry the damage is already done. I wake up very early and as of late, my mornings are unreasonably consumed with dread that today is the day I go up and something happens. We both have a lot of our money in this, and his income completely relies on me being able to go up there. I didn’t realize it would bet here at all, but it’s a tough burden. There’s so much I overlooked about all of tree work.

Sorry for the rant folks. The main point is that we have to listen to our minds and know when to walk away. The lifestyle works for some but not others, and can be so unbelievably grueling on the body. There’s nothing wrong with saying it’s all of a sudden too much. It’s not like construction or other industries with prefabricated man made materials, trees are wildly unpredictable. You can have a good idea of the risk, but you can’t see inside every last foot of the tree. Indeed, some are born for this and work for 40 years and could go for more. Those people have one of the greatest qualities a mind can have, but not everyone has it and everyone’s situation is different. Gotta recognize when to call it.

Cheers friends.
I've only read a few replies, but circled back to respond regardless of what has already been said. I was trained to work by a ex logger of a father who owned a logging camp in SE alaska in the 60's-70's.. We only worked on a few trees together when I was a kid. Massive void, and I got into tree work as a arborist when my wife was pregnant with our first.. Much like you a wondering soul before hand, but then shit got real fast. I had a wonderful mentor with 30 years of experience take me under his wing, we even lived together for a year. He was a wealth of knowledge and encouraged me to take on my own jobs. He use to say that 'you can be a rock star removal guy and have about 10 years before you start getting surgeries, or you can get good at fine pruning japanese maples and rhodies and work forever'. Ironically he was a bad ass removal guy, but great with a pair of hand snips.
Looking back on it, 2 years of experience aint shit, so don't beat yourself up. It also sounds like you jumped off the deep end without any guidance other than your own which I admire, but still aint shit.
Personally I started a preservation company when everyone said it was impossible, and I've single handedly shifted the narrative of arboriculture in our area. I have a funny skillset and suck at doing large climbing removals, but I can drop a 150' 36" back or side leaning conifer on a road cone, a head leaning alder 45 degrees spinning it 360 as it falls (only to see if I can and not in a critical situation). Get me on spikes and I'm only good to about 50', but good enough to climb high enough to handle top and throw them?!
Two years aint shit in tree work.
Mix that and depending on someone else to sell work for you is a disaster, I've sold plenty of jobs which push my edges that ive had anxiety about, (just lost one yesterday due to them canceling). Learn as much as you can from reputable experienced people, focus on selling work right up to the line of you confidence level, but try not to bite off more than you can chew. I can count on one hand the number of jobs where I felt 'over my head' in the past decade and I run my own show with decent gross sales increasing 20% annually with only about 5% increase in overhead.
There is much more to running your own show than doing the work, think of it as the work is the car, but then you need the fuel to make the car do what you want (and that is the business side of it).
 

evo

Been here a while
Location
My Island, WA
Without coffee, I run about like a saw without oil in the gas.

More on topic, I have no problem turning down work. Working solo, I'm not interested in jobs that need a crew or require cranes, lifts, etc. I have plenty of work in my niche. IMHO, it's much better to turn down a job than take it and have it go badly for me and/or the client.
I get the coffee angle.. But for myself I am learning that coffee is my self medication for ADHD, that shit calms me down and makes me hyper focus on the task at hand, yes I do get jittery if I don't watch it but without it my mind is chaos.
 

evo

Been here a while
Location
My Island, WA
I drink 12 cups daily. All before 10. All strong. Coffee does not make me flinch. I could drink it at night and go to sleep right away. Also have blood pressure of an athlete at 54. I should cut down to 6 cups. But this has been my daily for a long time. Love the stuff.
I'm at about 32 oz of strong french press shit, and then a double shot all before 9... I might sip on half a cup from the morning until lunch.. Different wiring for different folks.. That is me cut way down..
 

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