Deer Nibbling On Our New Pine Trees

Pine tree damage

Back in the early spring, we planted two rows of pine trees in the front pasture to try and establish a bit of a wind break and natural privacy fence. In all, I think we planted something like 80+ saplings around the property with about 50 or so of those as part of the wind break rows.

I headed out to give them some water during lunch and noticed that there are a handful of them that the deer have started nipping the tops off of.

Pine tree damage

We have a herd of about 8 or so deer that hang around our place, graze and bed down in our pastures during the night. I love the fact that I can walk out on to my back porch, shine the spotlight into the darkness, and almost always see the group drinking from the pond or munching on the sporadic patches of still green grass throughout the yard.

They know we aren’t a threat and even feel comfortable enough to come as close as 10 yards from the house, sometimes while we’re standing there on the porch. I consider it one of the perks of country life and appreciate all the opportunities my family have to see them bless us with their presence here on the homestead.

But sometimes their presence comes with a cost. When we planted the pine saplings, I knew it was a roll of the dice that some of them may be discovered and possibly chewed on by the herd. We made sure to plant extra knowing the risks. And if today’s survey is any indication, it looks like they have, in fact, discovered some of the trees.

Pine tree damage

That’s alright though. If I can get 50% of the trees to take root and make it past the deer’s curiosity, I consider it a win. I guess my thinking is that I’d rather lose a handful of trees to feed a couple hungry friends than not have the deer around at all. It’s a trade I’m happy to make.

The next stage the trees will have to make it through is when they are tall enough for the bucks come and start rubbing their antlers on them during rut season. But we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. 🙂

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Mulching The Garden (Permanently?)

My father-in-law was looking to get rid of some extra straw bales, so I took them off his hands and used them to mulch the garden for the winter. Most of the garden was still bare and starting to really dry out (we’re dangerously close to entering into drought levels) and that’s no shape to leave the soil in during the winter months. Not to mention that I’ve been looking for a good way to mulch the garden permanently moving forward.

Coincidently, I’m also currently reading No-Work Garden Book by Ruth Stout which outlines a continuous, heavy mulch method to keep weeds at bay and soil in healthy order.

As I’ve read through the beginning chapters of the book, I’ve thought about our specific context here at the homestead and realized that the one thing we have an abundance of around here is pasture grass (and therefore hay). And now that I have an inaugural layer of mulch down on the garden beds, I may take the next few years and give the continuous mulch process a try.

Obviously, it will take a few years to allow the system to get up to full speed, but with two multi-acre hay pastures currently sitting idle, it’s worth seriously considering as a way to reduce or eliminate my current practice of tilling the beds. While we had good yields this year with tilling the soil, I’ve always had a long-term goal of moving to a no-till method. Again, considering our specific context, I think it’s worth a deeper look.

Setting Some New Goals

So, this past holiday weekend, in between multiple Thanksgiving gatherings, I took advantage of the beautiful weather and spent some time making progress on planking the bridge across the narrow end of our pond.

Wider view of the bridge

Everything about the bridge has been reclaimed from the scrap heap. The telephone poles that span the banks were delivered free from a friend of mine who works for an electric company. The boards used to plank the bridge were a mixture of reclaimed pallet boards and various odds and ends that I scrounged from a big junk pile that came with the property that I’ve slowly been tearing apart. Overall, I’ve been able to get about 80% across and it’s cost me nothing but sweat and muscle. Still need to pull about 7 more pallets apart, use the wood to plank the remainder of the bridge, sand everything down and put some sealer on it.

Now that the Route 66 5K is over and most of my winter preparation chores are complete, I figured it was a good project and metaphor to subconsciously begin thinking about transitioning into some new goals.

The winter months have always been a time of rest and relaxation for me. I usually spend my time watching movies with the family, reading books by the fire, and doing everything I can to go to bed early and catch up on some sleep. I also try to pick some sort of writing project and exercise regimen to work on just to keep my creative and physical muscles moving.

Here are some of the new things I’m shooting for:

  • Running – I plan on continuing my progress and slowly furthering my distance up to 10K. I’ve put together a running schedule for the next 8 weeks that I think will get me there. In addition to increasing my mileage, I’m also adding in a few days of light cross training to try to strengthen my ankles and legs a bit more for the longer distances.
  • Writing – I’m still working on getting this screenplay over the finish line. I’ve not been as disciplined in my writing as I have been in my running, but I have put together a schedule that I think will get me to THE END by the first of the year, possibly sooner if I buckle down or get a long weekend to focus on it.
  • Reading – I’m currently reading Digital Fortress by Dan Brown. I’ve got about 50 pages left to go and then I’ll pick up the next book on my reading list. My goal is to read 4 to 5 novels over the next few months as well as a stack of non-fiction books on gardening and a few memoirs from fellow farmers.
  • 2018 Goals – every year I take the month of December and try to set some yearly goals for myself, so over the next few weeks I’ll be thinking through and writing down some bigger goals for the coming year (more to come in a future post).