Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘pine tree

Precious Sight

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We are so lucky to have these beautiful horses living with us. It’s been a month and a half since they arrived and each day brings them a little bit closer to recognizing us as well-intentioned caregivers. Seeing the four of them quietly grazing together without any fuss is a precious sight.

Just the change from how they originally stood well out of reach when we showed up at the fence to now greeting us with their heads over the top board to smell our breath and accept some touch when we arrive is such a demonstration of their increased comfort.

We’ve taken to temporarily closing gates between pairs during the times we set out feed pans to minimize food related interaction among them, but immediately after open all the gates to allow total freedom of movement. They don’t always regroup and wander off together as a foursome, but when they do, it warms our hearts.

A much less precious sight was discovered upon our return from the lake on Monday. The little pine tree that we transplanted on the rainy Thursday before heading north looked thirsty, with the sprouts of new growth all sadly toppled over. As I was watering it, I suddenly noticed there were two branches smothered with caterpillars that were devouring the older needles.

An internet search revealed these to likely be larvae of the sawfly. The dang things have denuded the upper half of the tree.

If this little pine survives I will be very impressed. We yanked it out of the ground just as it was sprouting new growth, we let it get too dry in its new location, and then it gets infested with needle-eating bugs.

Maybe it will make a good “Charlie Brown Christmas tree” next year.

That could actually turn out to be a precious sight… at least, for fans of that classic 1965 animated television special.

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Written by johnwhays

June 2, 2021 at 6:00 am

Spot It

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Can you find the secondary features hiding in plain sight in these images captured throughout my day yesterday?

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How many did you identify?

That was purple-tinted trillium alright, but did you notice the poison ivy directly beside it on the left?

There was some complex chirping coming from the pine tree. Is that a nuthatch? You tell me. I didn’t have a long lens.

The coiled-up young fern was the focus and I didn’t notice the mosquito until viewing the image on my computer.

What was that lurking beneath the water, obscured by the wavy reflections? The old snapping turtle hanging out on the boat lift.

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Written by johnwhays

May 30, 2021 at 9:08 am

Double Duty

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This is becoming an all too frequent unwelcome occurrence. We had another tree succumb to high winds. This time it wasn’t in the woods, but right along the driveway during last Wednesday’s storm. When the look of winter arrived with a blast of 8 inches of heavy, wet blowing snow, it forced us into the double duty of cutting up the big pine across the driveway before I could plow.

Wind gusts were reaching 40 mph which turned out to be too much for the roots to hold that big beast.

Cyndie asked if we should use it for this year’s Christmas tree. I probably did a poor job of hiding my exasperation when I said she could if she was able to lift it.

Once we were in the middle of cutting it up and she discovered how big it really was, she understood my reluctance.

After I cut the trunk about halfway up, she pondered taking just the top portion. Again, I said that would be fine if she could lift it, knowing full well it was still too much tree.

Fortunately, the very top had split into two competing leaders, which made it an unappealing option when we reached a size that would be barely manageable.

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I offered her the alternative option of saving boughs for making a wreath or other decorative holiday arrangements. That met with her approval. No sense having all that wonderful pine scent going to waste.

Of course, this being a healthy live tree when it was pushed over, there was plenty of fresh, sticky sap to make a wonderful mess of her gloves and everything else around, including her hair by the time she was done moving things around.

An hour and a half later, I was able to start the plowing process, which was no picnic due to the stickiness of the snow. It kept sticking to the plow blade and hindered the winch’s ability to lift the blade. This being the first snowplowing of the season, I needed to establish an extra width by pushing the edges well past the end of the pavement to allow space for subsequent snow events.

I was moderately successful. We may have an opportunity to test this by tomorrow as we are due to get another comparable blast of wind and snow tonight.

Something tells me this is going to feel like a very long winter. Hopefully, I won’t be facing the double duty of lumberjack and plow driver all at the same time again.

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Written by johnwhays

November 30, 2019 at 10:26 am

We’re Dry

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During my commute home yesterday afternoon, I watched clouds thicken and grow dark to the south. When I exited from I94 east and turned toward the southeast heading to River Falls, the view looked a little threatening. Then the radio reported there was only one noteworthy storm worth mentioning. With possible heavy rain amounts, high wind, and hail, in Goodhue and Pierce counties, it included the communities of Red Wing and Hager City.

We live in Pierce county, a short distance north of Red Wing.

Good, I thought. We could use the rain. I just wasn’t fired up about driving in the pouring rain.

When I finally reached Beldenville, the road was soaking wet, but the rain was already done. It must have stopped just before I arrived.

We live a couple of miles north of Beldenville proper, and when I turned onto County J, the pavement was bone dry.

We didn’t get a drop at home.

I stepped out on the deck to take a picture of the drooping sunflower forĀ a representation of how the plants are feeling about our long spell without rain.

As I stood there, I noticed there was a lot more than just the sunflower that would show up in the frame.

This sunflower made a surprise appearance, most likely growing from birdseed that fell from the feeder nearby. It shot up with robust energy at first. When the ground started to dry out, the growth stunted significantly. It hasn’t looked very happy ever since.

There used to be a big pine tree here. I’m guessing it might have been root bound, based on my recent discovery about the pines out in the field north of the driveway. We left it standing until it was good and dead, then I cut it down, leaving enough of the old trunk to have a nice support for a balanced rock. Using this chiseled stone for a base (probably a remnant from the construction of the field stone chimney on the house), I balanced a large rock that I was only barely able to lift up to the necessary height.

It eventually fell down.

I’ve yet to decide whether to put a different one up there, but I’ve definitely chosen to leave the too heavy one safely on the ground where it landed.

Even though the big tree died, the ground seems to be fertile for a new generation of pines sprouting in its place. There are at least three rising up around that stump, taking advantage of the sunlight available since I cut the big one down.

And where do baby trees come from? The number of pine cones remaining from the now-removed tree seem to offer plenty of clues.

Maybe if we come out of this dry spell, more of those seeds will sprout.

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Written by johnwhays

August 17, 2018 at 6:00 am