This is our maple tree. See the power lines in the background? All of the branches have been cut from the tree at some point in the past, I'm assuming because they got in the way of the power lines. It's mostly just trunk. This poor tree has been struggling along without branches as best it can, but it's been dying since we moved here two years ago. (The dead limbs crashing to the ground are a little hint that all is not well with the tree, just in case the startling lack of a canopy wasn't enough.) We've decided to take it down, before it dies the rest of the way and falls on the house.
Thankfully, Mr.-we-can-do-it-all-ourselves has agreed to have a professional remove the tree, rather than nominating himself a Darwin Award. I hope to get a lot of firewood and/or shredded wood out of the tree to use as mulch. Don thinks that stacking firewood before we have either a fireplace or a wood-burning stove is "putting the cart before the horse" (his exact words), but the wood would have to age anyway, so why not? Why throw it away, then pay for what we could have had for free?
From a practical standpoint it makes more sense to do it right away, and replant the area with a small tree this fall or next spring, than to wait for the maple to finish dying. And since I want a fruit tree, and the sooner we plant, the sooner we get peaches... Still, it sucks to cut down a tree, especially one as old as this one.