Friday, May 11, 2007

More Life and Death (Vegan)

I didn't stop to think until late today that it has been a week of killing. Yesterday, sheep; today, trees.

Today, a crew of tree-trimmers came at my invitation (and expense!) and slaughtered a couple dozen "helpless" trees in the front yard, and pruned a few others. I guess I'm officially NOT a "tree-hugger", though really, I DO love trees! Larger branches and trunks were stacked for firewood, probably totalling close to a cord...a significant portion of my heat for next winter. The pile of wood chips would probably more than fill my full-size pickup truck...but it's on the ground under the apple trees, so I don't have to move all of it.

When I moved here, there were only about 9 trees in the yard (front and back). But trees are one of the biggest weed problems here...if I didn't constantly control them, you would not be able to get from the street to the house, or in the front door. The trees that were cut today were all less than 10 years old--and some of them 30 feet tall and a foot in diameter. Some have been cut before, and resprouted. Mostly elms (Siberian or "piss-elm" as well as a few American/slippery elms) and mulberries. Also a few maples, ashes, black walnuts, and redbuds.

While the chain saws worked to liberate my tiny 12-year-old orchard (8 trees--apricot, apple, pear, cherry) from the stranglehold of these intruders, I pulled up dozens of seedlings and saplings from the rain-soaked soil, and carefully (wearing disposable plastic veterinary obstetrical gloves for protection) rooted out two small patches of poison ivy. The sheep in the front yard sheep pen (ewes with the youngest lambs) had a feast of seedlings and pulled weeds and clippings from the black walnut tree (a natural internal parasite inhibitor).

Several of the original trees needed branches grew, their own weight bent them closer to the ground, so that the yard felt closed in. The maple that was badly storm damaged about 6 years ago looks much more balanced now. The front entrance patio seems airier without the lower branches of ash leaning over it. The sycamore (a seedling only about 5 or 6 years old, and more than a foot in diameter and a good 30 feet tall) has only a tuft of branches at the top of the long straight trunk, leaving plenty of room for the Douglas Fir I planted as a Christmas tree about 6 years ago to grow unobstructed.

In addition to the sycamore (on borrowed dad and I have a fondness for sycamore in woodworking, and I keep thinking "sawlog"), several other "non-original" trees were chosen to "stay in the flock" as "keepers". One is an American elm, tall and straight and nicely formed, in a good location. It is probably the "child" of the two huge American elms that once lined the street in front of the house between the farm and the road--trees that were cut down a couple years ago due to insect infestations. The others are redbuds--one at the entrance of the driveway, and two by the front of the house.

The yard looks raw and broken. Grass is trampled, dame's rocket (providing a banquet for a diverse array of butterflies at present) is leaning at crazy angles. It will look even worse tomorrow, as the trampled and broken plants die. But it won't be long before new growth hides the scars, and rain settles the disturbed soil. But hopefully with some TLC my heirloom and old-fashioned roses will once again thrive and blossom now that they have more sun. I'll enrich their soil with compost from an old slaughter-waste compost pile (don't care to use that on the vegetable garden), and bed them nicely in wood chips.

Everywhere throughout creation, something must die in order that something else may live.


Catlady said...

Your final comments, and what I've been thinking since yesterday, do ease some of the "difficulty" I had with the sheep post.... It is true - better to humanely slaughter than keep them if they aren't healthy; if keeping them means a strain to feed.... I still remember your advise - when you've sent them to slaughter, spend the next bit of time writing the checques to cover the feed bill :)

About the trees.... all I can think is, Black Walnut - - - natural dye source - - - - Black Walnut - - - - natural dye source.....

BC hugs....

Catlady said...

OH!!! Before I forget to ask again - Luna update please :)