Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Eaten Tree

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There was a time when the willow tree was happy and healthy inside the space that we fenced off for our small paddock. Knowing full well the threat livestock pose to trees within their confines, we tried several versions of barriers intended to keep the horses from chewing the bark. It was fine with us that they munched the hanging branches. It gave the tree a look of being well-trimmed at all times.

After the first few attempts to protect the tree trunk proved insufficient –read: the horses just chewed up whatever we tried using– I chose to wrap the tree with hardware cloth. In time, even that protection broke down under the constant rubbing and biting from the horses, but it no longer appeared to matter by then. The tree was beginning to fail from the compression of the soil around the roots and we suspect, the heavy dose of horse urine that stagnated there as well.

Even when provided two years free of horses in that paddock, the gorgeous willow tree continued to show evidence of an ongoing downward spiral. Based on that, when we found out that new horses would be coming to live with us, we decided we would no longer do anything toward protecting the trunk of the tree.

This is what unobstructed access to the trunk of the tree looks like after two years:

I’m a little surprised by how interested the horses are in the roots. They’ve almost chewed more roots than bark at this point. At the very top of the image, you can see the horses also like to reach up to chew well above their shoulder height. Since we’ve given up on the tree, I see the chewing of tree bark as taking away some of the pressure on the boards and fencing around the overhang.



Written by johnwhays

March 23, 2023 at 6:00 am

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