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

Posts Tagged ‘trees

Changes Underway

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There is no denying the trend that is underway. Our trees are beginning to reveal what their true autumn colors will be as the change inches toward its peak.

Will it be a week or several? Time will tell. We often get hit with strong winds just when the colors are about to be their best, which knocks much of the glory to the ground sooner than we want. Yesterday’s wind wasn’t as dramatic as I feared. Brought down more twigs and sticks than leaves, probably because not many leaves have changed yet.

I walked past the willow tree in the paddock and realized that I’d only seen a horse eating a branch one time yet the bottom of the branches end perfectly at the height they can reach. They are keeping it trimmed. Look at the willow tree in the background to see the difference of one beyond their access.

We gave up trying to protect the one in the paddock and didn’t expect to see any new leaves on the branches this summer so it has already outlived our expectations. The horses chew on the bark and roots in our presence, but I guess they wait until we aren’t around to prune the growing branches.

I think they will miss it when the tree no longer provides much in the way of shade. We have been trying to nurse along some new shade trees we transplanted just beyond the paddock fence but they won’t be providing much shade until a decade from now. I mean, if they even survive this first-year shock of having been moved.

We’ll find out next summer whether any of them might have a future of someday adding colors to our glorious autumn seasons.

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Written by johnwhays

September 26, 2022 at 6:00 am

Superb Escapades

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Superlatives. Yesterday was as wonderful as the day before and served to amplify the pleasantries we enjoyed tenfold. The weather helped to accommodate anything and everything we found to do, including replacing an ailing screen door.

It looked simple enough until the door Mike and I picked up at the lumber yard in Hayward proved to be an inch taller than the one we were replacing. It appeared the old one had been cut down to fit so we borrowed a circular saw and did the same thing. After much searching, we found an old can of still viable stain and successfully completed the unplanned project.

We also received new insights about our trees from an arborist whose services were enlisted to analyze the health of trees around the group of properties that form the Wildwood Lodge Club, of which Cyndie’s family are long-time members. Near the end of winter last year there was a storm that brought down a lot of big branches and a few trees. The size of some of the limbs was enough to inspire seeking professional advice.

Between those events, the day allowed for paddle board and kayak excursions, we swam and sunbathed, and played a mini-tournament of games. Horseshoes, ladder golf, corn hole bag toss, darts, cards, and an encore round of “Fishbowl,” the triple-game of Taboo, Charades, and Password.

On a walk around the property, we twice enjoyed a close encounter with a doe with three very young fawns. They did not stray far after we came upon them the first time such that we found them again, a little further along in the woods where they were munching on ferns.

Cooking dinner on the fire was so good on Friday that we ended up doing it again yesterday.

Today will be a smidgeon less superlative as we adjust to the early departure of our friends, Barb and Mike as they head back for time with their grandkids this afternoon.

Superb, nonetheless.

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Written by johnwhays

July 31, 2022 at 9:48 am

Unexpected Sprouts

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After cutting up one of the trees recently felled by the pros we hired, I put two chunks in the shop garage to dry out. They looked like potential pieces for a future sculpting project.

Yesterday, we were surprised to find there was still life energy stored in those cut sections of the tree.

Despite a lack of sun or moisture, sprouts of new green growth have burst forth from the bark. Meanwhile, the leaves on the trees we tried transplanting a couple of weeks ago have all shriveled up and look like absolute goners.

I completely understand why the leaves on the transplanted saplings turned brown and wrinkled (even though we have continued to water them) but it seems unfair that the two cut-up sections of the trunk sitting on the concrete floor of the dark garage should sprout new growth that looks so full of life and green optimism.

Nature is fascinating.

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Written by johnwhays

June 15, 2022 at 6:00 am

New Idea

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Every spring we discover so many unexpected sprouts of new maple and oak trees in places where they can’t be allowed to remain and every year we talk about transplanting a select few instead of just cutting them all down. Most often, time passes before we get around to taking appropriate action.

Last year we made a rather late-season attempt to transplant a maple and a pine and both failed miserably. With hope springing eternal, I spontaneously pulled up a young oak sapling on Saturday and moved it to the spot where last year’s pine attempt had been located.

Without knowing if that would even succeed, both Cyndie and I were inspired to make more attempts, so yesterday we suddenly set about moving both oaks and maples to the fence line beyond the paddocks where we have long dreamed of adding shade trees.

This is the same place we tried planting many acorns a couple years ago to avoid needing to transplant but not a single one sprouted. Alas, we are back to transplanting, but this time with a new idea for a compensation-in-advance in case none of the relocated trees survive the shock of being moved.

For every tree we attempt to transplant, we have vowed to find a different sapling that happens to have sprouted in an acceptable location and give equal nurturing attention to encourage robust growth right where it started. Without any disruption to the roots, logic dictates we should have a high percentage of success in these cases.

I’m considering them a backup plan to assuage my grief any time one of the transplanted trees don’t survive the shock of being moved.

The effort is minimal and primarily involves cutting away all surrounding competitors to the saplings we select. It’s not that different from what we are doing on a much larger scale to clear out competition beneath the towering mature oak trees in our woods.

With the saplings, we add a step of providing woodchip mulch around them to discourage competing weeds or grasses and also slow the surrounding soil from drying out.

It’s a good exercise for me to learn better acceptance of culling some young trees guilt-free with an eye toward the bigger goal of improving the healthy growth of sprouts that showed up where they are wanted and there will be room to flourish.

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Written by johnwhays

May 23, 2022 at 6:00 am

More Surprises

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A full day in the woods directing the work of the tree cutters on Friday turned up a couple of unexpected flower surprises for me.

The first was when I came upon these cute little wildflower bunches beneath my favorite hunk of a tree.

No tree trimming of that beast was done that day as our attentions were elsewhere. I just happened to be waiting a safe distance away from where a large leaning tree was being professionally dispatched to the ground when I spotted the flowery accents.

In a somewhat similar situation, only, different, I found this single flowering trillium just after a tree that had been hiding it from view was cut down.

That one is definitely NOT one that we transplanted from the lake place. Finding this is encouraging for our goal of establishing a greater presence of trillium in our woods. If they are showing up naturally, that definitely bodes well.

That’s all I got. Short and sweet this morning because I am off to drive for an hour to meet friends for a morning bike ride. Further tree work and lawn mowing will need to wait for another day. I’ve been granted a day off to pedal!

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Written by johnwhays

May 15, 2022 at 7:30 am

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Trees Trimmed

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It was a lucky Friday the 13th for us yesterday. The professional tree trimmers we contracted with finally arrived to spend a day felling and trimming multiple large trees. When the job was quoted, it was easier to see the many trees in our woods that had tipped and become hung up on surrounding branches. Now there is just enough greenery beginning to sprout that the views are a little more obscured.

When the two-man crew arrived, the horses were highly curious about the mysterious-looking machinery that rolled over the first hill of our driveway.

They just as quickly came to accept the racket made by dueling chainsaws as no big thing, even though the bucket mechanism the guys were using looked a little creepy.

That big willow looks so much less neglected today. That’s one tree species that prodigiously sprouts random new branches every which way along the full length of its trunk.

Two of the largest and oldest maple trees that have been slowly dying received a different bit of serious pruning as we strive to prolong the glory of their stature on our landscape.

It’s getting to the point there isn’t much left of them. One large limb broke loose last year and landed on the equally large limb just beneath it. I’ve been yearning to take that extra weight off the lower branch but the job was beyond my capacity. Work like this, since there were plenty of other tree issues that deserved attention as well, made it easy to justify bringing in the professionals.

One of the other things we focused on was bringing to the ground any trees that had tipped but didn’t make it all the way down. Nicknamed “widow makers,” they can be tricky to deal with since the entanglement above can lead to unexpected movements of the tree being cut. I was more than happy to leave the stress of that challenge for someone other than me.

As long as they were here, I gave them full permission to cut down any tree that had been marked with red by our DNR Forester who paid a visit several years ago. There were so many marked trees that I haven’t been able to put a dent in the number. Watching how much work it took for a professional to cut them all in one particular section helped me to justify why I haven’t cut them all myself.

Also, it leaves a monumental amount of work to ultimately clean up off the ground, which I chose not to pay them to do. We have an endless supply of chip-able sized trees littering the forest floor now.

There is work enough to keep me busy in the lumberjack role full time. Too bad that I am also the lawn groundskeeper, fence mender, equine fecal relocation specialist, dog walker, home maintenance amateur, hay bale hauler, horse feeder, labyrinth tender, and Stihl power trimmer user extraordinaire.

I only get to do the lumberjack work in my spare time.

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Written by johnwhays

May 14, 2022 at 9:04 am

Tree Dwelling

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Near the edge of the woods at the bottom of the hill behind our house, there is a large tree with three distinct critter access points. I noticed them the other day because Delilah stopped to look up at the tree with excited interest. That almost always means a squirrel was moving around in the branches.

I didn’t see any life in the branches but I very much noticed the three holes in the tree.

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Do you think those are three separate “apartments” or is that a deluxe three-story home with a door on each floor?

Cyndie, Delilah, and I are waking up at the lake place this morning on the weekend of the American Birkebeiner cross-country ski race. Our friends, the Williams family will be joining us, and their daughter, Ella will be skiing it on Saturday for the first time.

It is estimated the event brings 40-thousand people to Hayward for the weekend. That changes things dramatically around here. For reference, the population of Hayward is a little over 2000. It messes up our navigation because they close roads and strive to move everyone by shuttle bus. Foils our desire to sneak down a fire lane road to catch a glimpse of racers in the middle of the woods.

Organizers want all spectators to watch the beginning or the end, or both, traveling by shuttle bus. I’d prefer to not be constrained to standing among the masses. I’m not tall enough to expect I will be able to see anything in a crowd, anyway.

Before we left home yesterday, I needed to finish clearing snow from in front of the big barn doors so I could move bales of hay in for the person tending to the horses while we are away. I also needed to pull snow off the eaves above the front door of the house and then shovel that into a giant mound by the front steps.

Arriving up here hours later, the first order of business was to shovel access paths to the doors. The driveway was plowed and caretakers had pulled some snow off the roof but no good attention had been paid toward clearing snow from in front of the doors.

Ski racing might be an Olympic sport, but I feel like the shoveling I’ve been doing lately is medal-worthy.

In case you didn’t form an opinion about the tree pictured above, I’d say it’s one palatial three-story home based on the noticeable lack of tracks in the snow at the base. I may be wrong, but I’m guessing it’s some fat-cat of a squirrel luxuriating up there with no reason to come out and get his feet wet.

I think Delilah could smell him.

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Written by johnwhays

February 25, 2022 at 7:00 am

Contrasting Visuals

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I’m so happy that Cyndie carries her phone on walks and shares the views she captures. This first one has the cool effect of blurring around the center focal point that adds energy to the scene.

We have reached the time of year when there are a lot more hours of darkness than light but she didn’t let that stop her and I love the murky mysteriousness of this next one.

There is a lot of action in some of those tree trunks. I don’t quite understand the source of light behind those clouds. Was it really just the last traces of sunlight so many minutes past sunset? I cannot confirm.

A couple of other shots she showed me from the night walk revealed the snowflakes that were blowing around at the time.

It was brought to my attention that this happened seven years ago:

That was when Cyndie rolled the old farm pickup just a few days before she had hip replacement surgery. When responders fretted over her painful limping, she had to tell them that was how she walked even before the rollover.

In contrast, now I’m thinking about what we’ll be taking pictures of seven years from now and how different it might look.

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Written by johnwhays

November 12, 2021 at 7:00 am

Glorious Days

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We have been blessed with three incredible sunrises as well as glorious October weather days at the lake this weekend.

The crisp morning air was colder than the lake water and produced mesmerizing steamy accents to the brilliant colors of the sunrise.

Most of the boats and docks have been pulled out of the water, but this poor orphaned catamaran was still awaiting attention.

It made for an appealing subject for a photo.

We didn’t spend much time near the water because there was so much fun to be had creating the new labyrinth path in the woods.

I was able to successfully route the path around the trees to form a shorter rendition than the 11-circuit Chartres pattern we made at home. Cyndie worked tirelessly to dig up rocks and move them to the edges.

There remains a fair amount of time needed to position more rocks and branches to better define the pathway in a manner that will endure through the seasons. Next spring, I envision a need to selectively remove ferns and trillium that cover the ground here in order to preserve the visibility of the path.

Since we usually are trying to transplant trillium from up here to back home in Beldenville, this has the potential of providing plenty of plants for the task.

Before we get to that point, this labyrinth will need to survive the winter, so I guess we’ll just have to make sure to get up here for the glorious days of the snow season and walk the path frequently enough to maintain the definition.

A labor of love.

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Written by johnwhays

October 24, 2021 at 9:48 am

Not Over

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For all of the leaves that have fallen to the ground already, the autumn show of colors is not over yet. We are enjoying a thrilling pizzazz of fall scenery around our property. The floor of our forest has attained one of my favorite looks.

We now have a carpet of leaves beneath the dwindling canopy of the treetops.

A carpet with a variety of colors splashed across it.

Add a sunset that paints the clouds overhead all purple-y-pink and it started to look like we were wearing rose-colored glasses last night.

What a treat to be able to watch this show evolve right before our eyes and not have to plan a special trip to drive up north or some other place where the fall colors provide such spectacular autumn splendor.

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Written by johnwhays

October 12, 2021 at 6:00 am