2018 – Year in Review

The weather during 2018 varied quite a lot from the previous few years. It was quite cold early in the year during the Winter and then the late Spring only lasted for about two weeks. The rainfall was spotty and below normal for the year on my place, but, other areas of the county received more rainfall.

The ten or so potted trees that were sprouted from seed in May, 2017, did not survive the Winter – although the pots were placed into a straw bale fort for protection over the Winter, apparently they all froze.

In previous years it was common to lose a few trees after planting but only during the first two years. This past year a number of three and four year old grafted trees did not survive the Winter – mainly the grafts died but a couple of root stocks also died. The grafted Lakota were hit the hardest – they were planted in a low place where the cold air accumulates. Maybe the Lakota would do better if planted on a slope where there would be more air flow.

Besides the regular maintenance of the field trees and mowing weeds I continued grafting field trees during the Spring and planting new trees in the Fall.

My grafting success this year was abominable with only 9 out of 40 making it. Out of the first 20 grafts, 9 survived. But, out of the last 20 none survived. Looking back for excuses I can see that the temperature during the last 20 attempts was probably 85 degrees or above and just too warm for grafting.

During October and November I planted 44 trees and bushes into the fields as follows:

7 black walnut trees
8 Chinese chestnut trees
17 pecan trees(15 grafted)
10 Saskatoon service berry bushes
2 chokecherry bushes

Experimenting with cover crops continued. During June I broadcast an 11 way mix and used the roto-tiller to scratch the dirt over the seeds. It was very dry and the rains did not come until the end of July. The sorghum/sudan and the millet slowly sprouted and grew somewhat before the rains. Most of the legume seeds did not sprout at all, but, some of the other seeds did sprout and grow after the rains came. The sunflowers in the mix did not grow tall and produce very many beautiful heads as was the case in the previous year.

The deer and other wildlife continue to exert their rule over the place – at least they leave behind some fertilizer.

After attending workshops on soil health I realized that I need to introduce some cows and maybe some goats to improve the soil. The cows could mow the grasses and the goats could eat the poison ivy, small bushes, and serecia lespedeza. That would necessitate putting up some fencing along the road and designing a system for watering. But, the grass fed beef should taste good.

Chestnut Burr Development

The Chinese chestnut trees growing on my property seem to know how to maximize their energy expenditure.

Normally there are three nuts in each spiney burr. The burr on the left in the following  picture has opened but still retains the three fully developed nuts peeping out.  The burr on the right has one developed nut and two blanks.


In the following picture each burr has one blank and two developed nuts.

It seems that the tree knows enough to parcel out  its energy into developing one or two full nuts and leaving the others blank rather than spreading energy over all the nuts.

And here is one where none of the three nuts developed.

And the following picture show an array of blanks.

The following shows an array of developed nuts.


Pecan Tree Problems This Summer

Although a few trees usually die during the first two years after transplanting from pots to the field, a number of trees that were four years old died this last Winter. In most cases the graft died and the root stock sprouted new growth. But, on three Lakota trees that were planted in October, 2014, a relatively large limb that grew from near ground level on the trunk died, and the upper portion of the tree stayed alive as shown in the next two photos.

Another problem occurs when birds land at or near the top of the tree and break off the top. I do like to have birds in the orchard because they eat insects. But, when trying to train a central leader on each tree, this occurrence is frustrating.

Name That Bug

In the middle of July I noticed a rather large bug – about 1.5 inches long. When I picked it up and turned it over it hardly responded. Poking its underside elicited a few kicks of its feet. Here is the view from above.

And, here is the underside.

And, here is another bug that is about six inches long.

See links:



Double Jug Bird Feeder

Although it is a couple of months late, the new double jug bird feeder has finally arrived. During the cold weather I put feed out on a board for the birds to eat. They quickly discovered it and started coming by when they saw me adding more feed. The following bird feeder is designed to fit over a t-post. It is made from cedar wood and plastic one gallon jugs. After finishing it I already recognize a flaw, so, this version is numbered 0.1.

Here are some pictures of the double jug bird feeder:













Since some components of the feeder are made of food grade plastic, I wonder how long it will last out in the direct sunlight.

First Easter flower, Spring – 2018

On February 28 the first greenery of flower leaves poked up above the leaf mulch along the fence line. Then on March 15 the first Easter flower bloomed.

And many of its neighbors were about to bloom.

Only a few days later on March 18 that single flower had lots of company.

Many of the other flowers along the fence are awake and growing.