Monday, March 21, 2011

Tree Protection and Fairies

When Buck and I planted apple and pear trees last June, we did it a little oddly. We had stopped by the local farm store to look at what kind of trees they had so we could start planning a new orchard. As luck would have it the supplier had brought in all kinds of exciting varieties I had never seen at a local store AND they had just gone on sale for half price! We couldn't help it, we bought 5 trees, three apple and two pear.

The original fruit trees on this farm are, like the buildings, on their last legs and we knew from experience that the first thing you want to do when you land somewhere is plant trees.
You can always cut them down for firewood, but you can never get the time that has passed, back. Plant trees right away.

When we got back to the homestead
with our new start on an orchard, we debated the several sites we had earmarked and settled on a south facing slope near our temporary living space. We hoped the proximity to people would discourage deer and also help us to remember to water the trees while we were preoccupied with the other kagillion things we are doing here.

To protect our baby trees we developed odd barriers made of found objects:
  • 5 foot field fencing cut into lengths that, when the ends were twisted together, made 4 or 5 foot across cages.
  • Long thin strips of wood from our scrap pile, generated when we had to rip full dimensional lumber to fit a spot in our building projects.
  • The black netting made to prevent birds from eating your berries.

We wove the sticks into the wire to make the cages taller and then we draped pieces of the bird netting over the top. The netting which has a very annoying habit of snagging on everything when you are using it, worked perfectly for this because it snagged hard onto the wood and wire and for the most part, stayed put.
They have worked great for the deer, not one bite so far. But they needed a little modification to keep out the rabbits.

One of the weird things about these tree cages is that all last summer and fall we kept finding them laying on the ground, sometimes 20 feet away. Huh?

This happened several times over the last 6 months.

The little trees are 6 to 7 feet tall. The trees showed no trace of damage from the removal of the cages. None of them ever got any broken limbs or seemed disrupted in the slightest. It's as if the cages were propelled straight up into the air and then out into the clearing.

My dad suggested that deer were cleaning the velvet off of their horns on the cages. I found no evidence of that. But it's possible.

I joked with Buck that we had accidentally invented the ideal wind turbine design.

We ended up driving old fence posts in and wiring the cages to them.

On a recent farm visit, from one of our favorite nieces, I brought up the subject of the mysterious cage flying and, knowing her area of expertise, I asked if she thought it might be the work of fairies.

She gave the question a moment of serious consideration and decisively replied "If it was something like that, it would be Brownies, NOT Fairies!"


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