Some Losses Are Inevitable

There 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.

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.

Published on Feb 27, 2012

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