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The Trees Are Doing Well…

A Quick Visit

Pater Familias had a business trip near the farm. So, Pater Familias and Beach Barn Rose stopped by the farm to check on things.

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Beach Barn Rose

The Windbreak

In March we planted 250 saplings–red oaks, white pines, and deciduous holly–to form a windbreak. On this trip we found that all but one of the oaks and all but seven of the hollies were prospering. The white pines did not fare so well–we lost about a quarter of them. Overall, we are very pleased. Next year we will fill in the gaps where we lost trees and we’ll extend the windbreak.

We used a weedeater to cut the grass around each of the trees. This reduces the competition for moisture and nutrients.

Finally, we planted a young (5′) flowering dogwood near what we expect will be our home site.

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What NOT to Drive Through the Pasture

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What NOT to drive through the pasture!

It was a road trip, so taking the comfortable car–the Chrysler 300–seemed to make sense. However, when we were driving around through the wet, foot-high grass in the pastures it occurred to us that the 300 is not a farm vehicle.

We drove down into the lower pasture to check on the fences we installed in March. Getting down the hill was not a problem–but getting back up was.

The creek had water flowing and the creek bed was rearranged by the flow during the heavy May rains. What would normally have been a navigable crossing was now impassible. We had no choice but to go back up the hill we had just come down.

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I tried over and over to get back up the hill, each time choosing a different starting point, speed, and angle along the slope. Each failed attempt ended with the stalled car sliding sideways toward some trees. After about thirty tries I was lucky and got past the problem area. The car was a dirty mess but undamaged.

No Flooding!

We spoke to a neighbor during the height of the historic mid-west flooding during the week of 24 Apr – 1 May 17. He reported that the water stayed within the confines of the creeks and that the pastures and roads are in fine shape.

We look forward to a brief visit to the farm in a few weeks to see how the trees and pasture are doing.

A Quick Visit

7 Apr 2017

I was on a business trip to St Louis and arranged my travel to depart on Friday evening. On Friday morning I rented a vehicle and drove to the homestead.

Turkeys!

On arriving at the farm I came over the brow of the hill near where we plan to build our house and saw a posse of turkeys. (I am not making this up–the common collective nouns for turkeys include posse, rafter, and gang!) It is unclear whether I or the turkeys were more surprised. On seeing them I stopped the car and sat quietly, hoping not to drive them off; on seeing me they took to running or to flight. I saw at least one perched in the lower limbs of a tree about a hundred yards off.

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A little hard to see, but there are four turkeys running away…
The Work Continues…

I had two objectives for this brief visit. I wanted to check on the status of the trees we had planted; and I wanted to close off another opening in the perimeter fence. I was able to accomplish those tasks and more!

While I didn’t have time to examine every tree, it appeared they are doing well. In particular, I saw lots of buds on the red oak seedlings.

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The red oaks are showing buds and the white pines look nice and green.
On the way to the farm I stopped at a local hardware store and bought 40 feet of steel cable and some hardware. I used these materials to close off the last remaining opening in the perimeter fence.

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All entrances to the farm are now gated or closed off with steel cable.
There was a gate in the back of the hay barn that had been removed for some reason. I reinstalled it and added a lock. Now the barn is relatively secure.

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It’s a creaky old gate but it’s up and locked.
Everything else looked great.

It was a pleasure to be able to spend a few hours just driving and walking over the farm. The hay was a lush green after the recent rains and the air was cool and clear.

I can’t wait to get back!

On the Farm – Day 4

It’s Thursday and we’re behind schedule. The fence is almost but not quite complete. We have 150 trees left to plant. We haven’t even started installing gates or closing gaps in the existing fences. And we are tired. Really tired. None of us is accustomed to doing this kind of hard manual labor for days at a time.

Today JoeFish and PaterFamilias took turns working on the fence and planting trees. By the end of the day the fence was complete–but not without some embarrassing re-work. We realized too late that we had installed a steel brace backwards. An amateurish mistake that gave us an opportunity to practice a little humility in the face of the gentle kidding of our neighbors. Still, it cost us precious time to remove the brace, reset the post, install the brace the right way, and re-tension the wire.

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BeachBarnRose and PaterFamilias install a shield around a newly-planted White Pine seedling

Now that we’ve got a fair number of trees planted, SheWalksWithFlowers is trying to catch up with the watering. In the meantime, HobbitFarmGirl is adding hay as mulch around each seedling to conserve moisture and to decrease competition from pasture grasses we didn’t have time to burn out.

On the Farm-Day 3

This morning we drove to the Missouri Department of Conservation Tree Nursery in Licking, MO. We picked up our order of 100 red oaks, 100 white pines, and 100 holly and brought them back to the homestead.

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Trees ready for planting
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Stakes showing where trees will be planted

When we got back to the farm we began building our windbreak. We started by staking out mason’s twine to mark the path of the trees–starting at the northeastern corner of the homesite, heading due west toward Snake Creek, then bending south. We then placed three rows of stakes at predetermined intervals to show where each tree will be planted. The stakes will also anchor the rabbit wire collars we are making to protect the seedlings from rabbits and deer.

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JoeFish in our cabin at LORA fabricating shields to protect the trees

Our reading indicated that the greatest hazard to our seedling trees was dehydration caused by bad planting technique–what the experts call “putting a five-dollar tree in a fifty-cent hole”. However, the second greatest threat is from rabbits and deer. The solution is something that prevents our trees from becoming a buffet line for fauna. Ironically, the commercially available solutions are plastic shields that cost about $2 to protect trees that cost 16-32 cents. So PaterFailias came up with a technique to bend 20″ of rabbit wire around a piece of 4″ PVC pipe to make shields for less than a dollar. We ended up having only enough time and materials to make about 150 shields, but every little bit helps.

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PaterFamilais and HobbitFarmGirl digging a hole for a tree.
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TheBoyWhoLovesMushrooms plants the first White Pine

Digging holes for the trees in the rocky soil was dificult, but we were prepared for that. What we had not counted on–and were not prepared for–was getting enough water from one of our ponds to water 300 trees.

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SheWalksWithFlowers and TheBoyWhoLovesMushrooms taking water from the pond

SheWalksWithFlowers set up the water collection and transport process. It was a lot of hard work skimming water out of the pond and carrying it 150 yards to the nearest trees–and substantially farther for the rest.