Grit Blogs > One Foot in the City

Some Losses Are Inevitable

Joan Pritchard HeadshotThere are three things about an old family farm you hate to lose – the ancestors that established it, the buildings that served them well and gave the farm its character, and the trees planted for protection and shade.

When I conceded this spring that the seventy-five year old elms had to go, it was with near physical pain that I called the tree crew. My inherited practical side then slapped me and told me to “get a grip” when I recalled that my relatives welcomed any improvements that came their way. In fact, they embraced any concept they could afford that increased efficiency and profit and decreased the work effort. Farming is a business, and improvement is survival.

The tree crew arrived with the right equipment and a man they called their “climber.” We agreed to trim out and save two trees and drop the others. The worst of the latter was a wretched old giant that extended one limb far out over the farm house.

 A 97 Inch Elm 

Arturo was an amazing climber. He took on the giant while he was still fresh, and with the help of a second helper on the rope, dropped every limb to the ground without damage. In a well-planned execution, he dropped that tree in a little over an hour.

As I surveyed the completed project later in the day, I had no regrets. I will have an opportunity to plant a new generation of trees that are better suited than the elms, and I’ll get to watch them grow.

I woke up this morning to the new spring sounds of birds and frogs. As I surveyed the farm entry, I noted that the old trash buildings are gone and the trees now look well-tended. My ancestors would be proud.

joan pritchard
3/4/2012 7:27:26 PM

I imagine I'll miss them a great deal when that ol' Kansas wind kicks up this summer. One thing about trees is you just can't plant back-ups!


wendy slatt
2/29/2012 9:41:23 PM

Joan, that practical side really does come in handy, doesn't it? We had two grand Magnolia trees on the property when we moved in, in extremely impractical places. I felt a twinge when my husband first discussed cutting them down, but then my reason kicked in and I was all for it. Don't regret it a bit, either. They needed to go and the property is better for their removal. Now, my two 150-year old live oaks? Those are a different story. ;-)


nebraska dave
2/28/2012 7:52:24 PM

Joan, There's nothing more sad then to have to take down a grand old tree. I removed half of a Mulberry tree that had two main trunks on my new property because the center was hollow and it would have eventually fell on my gardens. I counted nearly 40 rings before hitting the foot in diameter hollow core. I suspect the tree had watched over the property for upward of 60 years or more. Much history passed by that tree in that length of time. It began to grow when nothing but country surrounded the area. Eighty years ago a river flowed through the area so I'm told by the neighbors so perhaps a seed floated down the river. Most likely a bird long since gone and forgotten ate the berries of a Mulberry tree close and dropped the seed as it came out of the digestive tract. I have much respect for those old trees but some times they just have to go. I haven't solidified plans for the wood yet but it will be something useful. If I replant trees on this property it will be fruit trees. A small orchard would be nice. They might just start producing in time for my grandson to climb the tree to pick the fruit. :0) Have a great tree planting day.