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Big Pruning

Back in what seems like another lifetime, AKA February, the PUD called and asked if they could remove a cottonwood tree that is precariously located next to the road. My response was, “Absolutely.” This tree is mammoth and its branches could be considered trees by most standards. 

The reality is that tree is both a public liability and personal liability. It might be a football field tall and on any given day when it sheds a branch it is audible and dangerous. That age old question, “if a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, did it make any noise?” The answer is, “Of Course,” but when you do hear that “crack” it can send chills up your spine. And Cottonwoods suck up so much water and are heavy that their branches drop like a rock. 

Our family has a long line of Woodsmen in it and you don’t have to travel very far back to remember stories of “widow makers”.  Having that tree removed is good for the community, good for the powerlines, good for my barn that was built a little too close and good for my mental health.  Sometimes big pruning is healthy and the closer big trees are to where humans interact on a regular basis, it is prudent to manage them.

On the flip side, I am also sensitive to the needs of wildlife and wild spaces. It stems from a deeply held belief that I am a steward of the resources on our farm. If this tree was the only tree, I would have to weigh the benefits more intensely. But this tree is in close proximity to other cottonwoods and our family has planted 100 or more trees on our farm to create even more wild spaces for the critters.

Organic farming is about working with nature to grow healthy food. A healthy ecosystem is important to human life and farms are micro ecosystems. Our farm is a healthy farm because we work with nature and embrace the diversity of plants and critters. 

Yes, we have to have some efficiencies to farm and having trees and places for critters to use adds another layer of management, but trying to limit access and exposure has its own management issues. We have both the privilege and opportunity to grow food and interact with nature, so we do.

The farm is mostly at rest, the farmers not so much, as we are busy planning for the 2021 growing season, and Spring will be sooner than I expect it!

Where does the time go?