COVID-19 and Tree Work

The COVID-19 pandemic has not yet affected our ability to serve you

Storm damage on Bottle Bay Road

Things felt downright apocalyptic in Sandpoint a couple weeks ago. Just as the COVID-19 pandemic began to feel very real and frightening for all of us, a windstorm of epic proportions hit. Neighborhoods from Baldy Mountain Road to south Sandpoint and across to Sagle were devastated. Falling trees crushed houses and cars. People lost power as the temperature plummeted into the single digits. And we all began looking at our trees a little differently. What we once appreciated for shade or beauty now looks like a threat.

Add to that the threat of COVID-19, and for some of us, it feels like the world is falling apart. Governor Brad Little recently issued a stay-at-home order for Idahoans to mitigate the spread of the virus, but for those whose homes or sense of safety were compromised by the windstorm, there is no feeling of sanctuary.

Thankfully, arborist businesses like Sand Creek Tree Service are considered essential during this time of self-isolation. We can continue responding to your tree needs. Do you have a storm-compromised tree or one that could potentially pose problems in the future? We are happy to help with these needs and more.

Our focus now is not only on your safety as it pertains to trees but also relating to potential transmission of COVID-19. We are taking personal precautions, including: limiting our social contact to just our workforce, shopping only once a week, regularly washing hands and using hand sanitizer, and keeping our distance from clients. If you feel the need, we are happy to discuss your trees over the phone to maintain distance. You can also mail us a check or pay via Venmo or credit card (for a small fee) to limit interactions.

We are taking this thing seriously. And we are grateful to continue working in the midst of it. Thanks for supporting us during this difficult time. We hope to do what we can to help you—and our community—too.

For updates on Sandpoint’s COVID-19 situation, click here.

The Evolution of a Tree Care Service

Our tree care service has come a long way in eight short years…

bernie saw

Early in our tree service days. The saw pictured in the photo is “Bernie.” It blew up a year after we acquired it.

When we first got our start as a tree care service back in 2010, we were a sight. Armed with little more than two chainsaws, a Toyota pickup, and something we affectionately referred to as the “Afghani Pawnshop Trailer,” we tackled jobs with gumption and gusto rather than horsepower or helpful machinery. When we pulled up, clients likely cringed, but our work ethic proved us worthy of return calls.

One chainsaw was named “Veruca” for the spoiled brat in Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” She only started up when she felt like it—and she often didn’t feel like it. The other saw was named “Shy Ronnie” for the Saturday Night Live character who only ever found his voice when no one was looking or listening. Shy Ronnie, the chainsaw, ran like a dream…so long as you didn’t look at him.

Today, our chainsaws don’t bear names because they don’t have personalities. They’re not secondhand. They actually run well. This is a good thing, though it’s fun to reminisce about the old saws. We finally gave Veruca away—for free!—and the recipient of this gift came back to complain about how terrible the saw was.

For several years, we didn’t own a chipper. We just loaded our trailer as full of branches as humanly possible and drove the loads to a competitor whom we paid to chip our mess. The system was far from efficient, but it’s all that we knew.

tiny chipper

Our first chipper. It looks so small!

When we finally purchased a chipper, it had a six-inch capacity. It was tiny, and with its narrow wheelbase, it tipped over a handful of times. With this chipper, we took on an 18-day logging project high in the mountains. At the time, it was magical—waking in the night to the sound of bugling elk, watching the seasons change—but now we look back and shake our heads. How did we ever do it?

Instead of the portable winch and skidsteer that we use now to load logs onto our trailer, we once used a hand-crank come-a-long—with varying degrees of success. Often, we’d just have to cut the logs into sizes we could lift by hand without throwing out our backs. One giant cottonwood had to be cut into cookies only four inches thick; we couldn’t lift the rounds otherwise.

tree train

The first iteration of the “tree train.” It’s all different now, with a Dodge, a dump trailer, and a 12-inch chipper. But we’ll always be grateful to the Toyota pickup for pulling ridiculously heavy loads.

Through it all, however, several things have remained constant: Tyler is a skilled climber and arborist; our emphasis is on safety; we love trees; both of us enjoy what we do; we work really hard; and we smile a lot while doing it. Somehow, this formula has worked for us. Every time we’ve decided to take a leap of faith and buy an expensive new piece of equipment, we’ve been met with the opportunity to take on more work and make an even better living for ourselves. Our tree care service continues to grow, and for this we are grateful. We are grateful to all of you in Bonner County who continue to come to us for your tree work needs.

Today, we have an employee whom we can’t imagine working without. And we have a lot of seemingly indispensable equipment: our Dodge Ram, a dump trailer, a 12-inch capacity chipper, a skidsteer, our portable winch, and more.

We look forward to continuing to work and grow in North Idaho—both as a business, and as a family. Thank you for supporting Sand Creek Tree Service!