SCOTTSBLUFF, Neb. — To many of us, lumberjacks wear plaid and boots and have facial hair. They’re men. It was Paul, not Paula, Bunyan.
But a pair of Scottsbluff women is proving it doesn’t take a man to cut down a tree.
When Deana Friedlan’s husband, Mike, died last year, she could have hung up the chain saws and parked the skid-steer loader.
Deana and Mike had run Friedlan’s Tree Service together for years. Mike’s father started the business in Torrington, Wyo., and Mike moved it to Scottsbluff in the 1970s.
Deana wasn’t sure she wanted to keep the business going after Mike died. But with encouragement from her daughter Ericka Kriewald, she’s still making it work.
One recent day, the two women were trimming tree branches at a Scottsbluff home.
Friedlan lowered herself in the boom truck’s bucket, having just used a chain saw to remove low-hanging branches.
Darkly tanned, with a few leaves in her hair, Deana said she was suited to the work.
“I like to be outside. I couldn’t sit in an office,” she said.
Mike had told her to learn how to run the trucks and the loaders so she could do it on her own and didn’t have to do heavy lifting.
They get a little help from the other tree services, and some of the taller trees they leave to younger guys who can climb.
Their gender is an issue at times. Some men won’t even talk to Deana Friedlan on the phone, she said.
Kriewald said having a woman do your yard work has benefits. She said a woman will pay more attention to detail, cleaning up the branches and keeping the yard looking nice.
Friedlan has her own way to deal with the gender issue.
“When it’s the man who won’t hire me because I’m a woman, I like to get a job right across the street,” she said.