Archive for the 'General' Category

molten wax

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014


Not long after the cabin was built, I had the notion that I needed to infuse it with the scent of pine trees. Every time I stepped in the door, I would smell the tang of the pines and feel a part of the wild. I soon learned that any concentration of such a scent hurt my nose. Plus, I could rarely find a candle that was pine scented, at least with a scent I liked. I thought about burning some kind of incense, but that generally requires more babysitting than a candle, so I gave up that idea.

Then my daughter-in-law Amber gave me a big fat cinnamon scented candle and I thought maybe I could abide that smell in the cabin instead. And so I got on that project right away, burning the candle whenever I was out there, even at night if I slept at the cabin. I soon had myself a second cinnamon candle and burned them in earnest.

Except they didn’t really infuse the cabin with their scent. It was nice as they were burning, but once they were out, the scent did not linger. I burned them dutifully until the wicks were gone. And then they sat in the cabin. Not serving any purpose other than to collect dust (and I suspect they might have attracted vermin — I’ve read accounts of mice eating candles).

On our most recent overnight visit to Roundrock, when we had a fire, I decided to throw the spent candles on the logs just to see what would happen. Of course they melted. They melted faster than the flames could consume the wax, and it pooled in the ashes below the logs. You can see the orange-ish pool in the photo below, just to the left of that largest log. (The orange is a reflection of the flames.)

molten waxFlames licked across the top of the pool of wax for a while, and then I guess it was effectively consumed. By morning, when I returned to examine the ashes — something I generally do after fires though I’m not sure why — I saw no sign of the wax.

I don’t think I’ll try candles in the cabin again. But who knows. It might happen.



neighbor’s pond

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

Brian's pondWhat you see above is Good Neighbor Brian’s pond. It sits just west of my pine plantation, and as you can see, it’s silted in quite a bit. I’ve seen it in some years when there is virtually no water in the bowl at all. In other years, it’s been encircled by a robust stand of cattails.

His pond is on the ridge top, but it must have a decent watershed nonetheless since it usually has at least some water in it. Good Neighbor Brian has talked about using his Bobcat to dig out the pond and try to refurbish it. I have no objection to that since I suspect it’s keeping the soil in the general area moist, and that favors my pines just across the property line.

And speaking of property lines, I was told when I bought my 80+ acres that my northwest corner was actually in this pond. That little black speck you can almost to the far shore in the photo is a fence post. That may be my actual surveyed corner. Of course I would never lay claim to a chunk of Good Neighbor Brian’s pond. From a practical point of view, I consider the fence line running between our properties to be the effective border, even though that places it about twenty feet east of what a surveyor would probably find.


in and around the pond

Monday, April 21st, 2014


There are two bodies of water at Roundrock. There is the lake, which comes and goes like Brigadoon. And then there is the pond, in the northwest part of the property, near the pine planation. The pond abides. It was there long before we came to this little bit of forest on the edge of the Missouri Ozarks, and it will likely be around long after we’re gone.

The pond is growing more wild in recent years. Before, when it was the most distinctive feature on our land, it was our destination each trip. And we would spend much of our time manicuring the land around it: cutting away lower limbs to improve the view, clearing out the encroaching blackberries, planting this and that here and there. I even made a couple of attempts to manicure in the pond. I planted a water lily along the shore, thinking it might grow and spread and look lovely. It bloomed — white — one year and looked like a scrap of paper floating on the water, and then it never came back. I also sank two posts into the loathsome goo in the bottom of the pond to erect duck houses on. The ducks were never interested in those, and now the posts rise from the water looking stupid, but I don’t want to venture into the loathsome goo again to tug them out.

As you can see in the photo above, I may be getting some unexpected help in managing the blackberries around the pond. It seems that they’ve been attacked by the wasp that leaves its eggs, resulting in a gall along the cane. I don’t know if this will kill the blackberry plant, but the few that were “infected” would hardly be missed by the invading forces. Still, it makes for something interesting when our feet do steer us to the pond.

pond 2

I want to say that this little island of grass in the pond is comprised of cattails, but I’m not sure of that looking at the photo now. I suspect it is, but I’ll need to make a closer inspection on my next visit. This island is new. It wasn’t there in years past, and like other cattail islands I’ve seen in the pond, it may not be here next year. It does appear, however, that some critter had used this island as a nest. You can see the parted section in the middle. Within there the leaves were matted, and I suspect a goose had a nest here. It warms my black and shriveled heart to think that the wild things find Roundrock to be a hospitable place to raise a brood. I don’t want to disturb any future nesting birds, but I do intend to keep and eye on this site and see if anyone moves in.

pond 3


This semi-aquatic reptile is still seen occasionally around the pond. It seems to overwinter well, and it doesn’t seem to be bothered by heavy-footed humans stomping around nearby. All it ever does is sit still, in the same position, as though it were made of plastic.


Rock the Parkway 2014 recap

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Rock the Parkway

I don’t think I was being too coy about the struggle I had completing my first half marathon last fall. I recounted it in two posts: here and here. It was tough. More than tough. And so it was with considerable anxiety that I signed up for Rock the Parkway, another half marathon here in Kansas City. But I knew I had to do it.

Of course I was full of fret and anxiety in all of the months leading up to RTP. I had “bonked” on the earlier half; I had run out of fuel and had to run on little more than determination and the muscles my body apparently had to consume to keep me going. It was the hardest, most grueling thing I had ever done (and that includes the calculus course I took in college). Yet I was going to attempt to do it again.

So I spoke to as many of my running friends as I could — those who would listen anyway — and asked what went wrong before and what I could do right this time. The bottom line was that I had likely fueled inadequately for that last run. I hadn’t eaten properly in the days before, hadn’t kept my body hydrated in advance, and hadn’t consumed enuf energy on the actual run to sustain my effort.

And so I set about correcting that for this run. In the week before I had been slamming bottles of Gatorade (lemon-lime G2) each day. I had two pasta dinners on days when I generally never ate dinner at all. And I organized plenty of GU (chocolate outrage and salted caramel) and energy bites (Honey Stingers and ShotBloks) to carry with me on the run. I was determined to get my glycogen and electrolyte levels as elevated as I could in preparation. (I barely know what I’m talking about.)

And I watched the weather report. Early in the week, the forecast called for a chance of rain and possibly thunderstorms on Saturday. But unlike when I’m planning a trip to Roundrock, as the week progressed, the threat of rain diminished. By Thursday, all chance of rain was removed from the forecast and the temps were expected to rise into the upper 70s. Maybe a little hot for a long run, but pretty close to ideal, at least to me. I decided to do without the long sleeve shirt and risk being a little cold at the start. That would correct itself once I got moving. And I would wear a cap because the sun was expected to be out and likely in my face both directions of the run.

The Parkway of Rock the Parkway is Ward Parkway, a pretty, divided boulevard that runs through some very nice neighborhoods and terminates at the Plaza, Kansas City’s upscale shopping and dining district. The course would take us north on the Parkway (more or less uphill until mile four despite what they say), then around a beautiful urban park, taking us back to the other side of Ward Parkway for the return (which is correspondingly — and blessedly — downhill).

I slept well on the night before, though I remember having a dream about being unable to find the timing chip I needed to add to my shoe. I woke before the alarm and decided not to fight for any more sleep. I let the dogs out, drank another bottle of Gatorade, got online to surf a bit and reduce my anxiety, and slowly dressed myself in the kit you see in the photo above. About two hours before the run was to start, I swallowed three Advil and ate the entire packet of ShotBloks. I also ate two slices of bread with peanut butter on them and a banana. All that was left to do was to drive the few miles to the start where I could wait and fret.

The temperature was already 60 degrees when we arrived. I knew I would not be cold as I waited. Just fretful and nervous. We met with some of my running friends, but with more than 6,000 runners at the event, I didn’t hang around and instead wandered over to my starting corral. I had reported my expected finish time based on my performance at that earlier half, and that put me at the back of the pack, which was fine. That meant there would be fewer people to pass me since most were already in front of me. (See how I think these things through?)

Being at the back of the pack (of 6,000) meant that even though the race started at 7:30, I would not be starting for at least twenty minutes later. The start of the course headed south for a short distance and then turned and ran up the other side of the Parkway. So as I stood there, waiting to start, I could see hundreds and hundreds of runners already underway, just to my left. Well, that was fine. I knew I had only one runner I needed to pay attention to.

The shuffling eventually got my wave to the start. I started my watch and hoped it could grab some satellites before we were ushered across the starting mats. And though I always worry that this won’t happen, it always does happen. I crossed the mats at a trot and settled in, knowing I had a great deal of time and distance I had to manage.

I was determined not to look at my watch as I ran, and by that I actually mean not to look at my pace. Generally one of two things happen when I do this. Either I am disappointed that I’m not running fast enuf, or I’m instantly exhausted because I see I am running too fast. Rather, I intended just to run at the pace my legs and lungs (and determination) set and do that for as long as I could (preferably 13.1 miles). I did occasionally look at the distance my watch reported, and by the first third of a mile, I was already hot. There was nothing I could do about that, no clothes I could shed or water I could spray on my face, so I just pressed on.

I was laden with GU. I had four packs of this energy gel pinned to the waistband of my running shorts. I also had a packet of Honey Stingers in the tiny back pocket of my skimpy running shorts. And I vowed to grab a cup of Gatorade and a second cup of water at each of the aid stations along the course. I intended to stay hydrated and nourished this time. My plan to was suck down a GU at miles 2, 4, 8, and 10. I would snarf down the Honey Stingers at mile 6. I hoped that regular infusions like this would satisfy my long-term energy needs. (On that half I ran last fall, I had only eaten some ShotBloks at mile 9, much too late to restore the lost energy in time.)

And so I ran my plan. The first four miles of this run are pretty much one long uphill adventure. There are some level spots, and two or three places where you go downhill briefly (only to recapture that elevation soon after), but for the most part, it is uphill. At the top of that hill is a very nice fountain in the middle of the parkway. This is, of course, where the photographers sit and wait for the runners to pass. It’s very photogenic: your smiling face with the fountain in the background. Except that you’ve just run four miles uphill. Now I’ll grant that for many (and perhaps most) of the runners on this course, four gradual uphill miles at the start are not much at all. They arrive at the fountain looking fresh and frisky, and they probably look fine in their photos. Me, on the other hand, not so much. I think I saw most of the paparazzi, and I did my best not to look too frazzled. I tried not to gasp as I passed. I don’t know if I succeeded. In fact, I don’t know if they took any shots of me at all. The pack was still a little dense at this point, and I may have been lost in the crowd.

But onward. After this point, the course was mostly level. I was mostly tired, and I was already negotiating with myself about where I would allow myself to stop or walk or somehow rest. I knew that the highest point on the course was around mile 7, and I thought that if I achieved that, I had really earned a break. But then I remembered that I had made it to mile 8 on that earlier half marathon before stopping, so I thought maybe that would be a more respectable point. Whatever, it seemed like it had to be done.

I had been running on the far right of the roadway most of the time. This left plenty of space for the swifter runners to pass me without breaking a sweat. I noticed around mile three, however, that my right hip was beginning to send me messages of complaint. The camber in the road meant that my right foot was striking just a tiny bit lower on the ground than my left, and I think my hip was trying to make that clear to me. So I changed my route a bit. I moved to the left side of the road to give my hip a break. I realize that might seem like advanced-level thinking for someone in the grueling early miles of a road race, but the fact is I had experienced this before and worked out the solution then. I hadn’t anticipated this happening, but I also realized that the benefit of those three Advil I had taken early in the morning was probably gone by then. Regardless, the plan worked.

Until it didn’t. At mile 6, my left knee began to register its complaint. Apparently the lower footfalls on the left were now wreaking their havoc on my body. Worse, mile 6 was exactly where my left knee had begun to bother me on that earlier half marathon, and that was a sign that my IT band had had enuf. But I was on the run, and more importantly, I was still running at mile 6, not having taken one of the breaks I allowed myself, so it was back to the right side of the road. This seemed to work, more or less. The ache in the left knee diminished, and the ache in the right hip did not return. I figured that if it did, I would just run down the middle of the road where there was no slope either direction. And some of the time I did that.

In the meantime, I was swallowing my GU on schedule and drinking the Gatorade and water offered at the aid stations. I had those aches, but what I didn’t have was fatigue. I was apparently keeping myself fueled properly. Mile 7 was a chore. The biggest hill on the run hit there. Many people were walking this hill, but I was determined not to. Yes, I was tired. Yes, my brain was telling me what an idiot I was. But I was determined to reach mile 8. The trouble was that despite my corrective efforts, my left knee was hurting. At that point I was just over half way; I had a lot of distance still to cover with a knee that didn’t seem like it was going to cooperate. So I made a regrettable but unavoidable decision. I walked two hundred feet to give my knee a break.

I had realized after I topped the hill in mile 7 that I had the energy and the mental fortitude to run the entire 13.1 miles. What I didn’t have was a left knee that was on board for this. So although running the entire distance would have been a great personal achievement, I knew that I had to leave that for the next time. In the end, I only walked about two hundred feet. It was such a short distance that the slower pace barely registered on the pace chart for the run (after I plugged in my watch and downloaded the adventure). And then I was running again.

At mile 9, I was back on Ward Parkway again (having looped around that urban park), and the route from this point was mostly flat and generally downhill, with a few climbs thrown in that mirrored those on the earlier part of the Parkway because, well, we were running along it again. And that seemed to be enuf. I ran. I kept running. I passed the mile markers. I ate the last of my GU at mile 10. I hit all of the Gatorade and water stations. (And, yes, I always did ask if they had Bud Light.) And I kept running.

We passed through some very nice neighborhoods, but they were lost on me. I was deep inside myself. Concentrating. Pushing. Ignoring. Running. I was far behind all of my running friends, many of whom were already likely finished. I was alone on the course, surrounded by hundreds of other runners, but alone nonetheless. I could only call on myself for help. Except at mile 11. It was there that I spotted one of my friends from the running club. She was sidelined with an injury but was working as a course monitor (which meant blocking one of the side streets so we delirious runners didn’t accidentally turn down it, and that actually happens more than you might imagine). Seeing her at that point in the long run was exactly what I needed. I felt a kind of emotional recharge that buoyed me for the rest of the run.

The last mile is literally downhill. Not a steep downhill, but a consistent downhill. Because I was fueled (apparently) I was able to coax a little more speed out of my legs. At least that’s how it felt. It felt as though I was running faster and harder, and that I was able to sustain it for a last mile. (And when I downloaded the run later, my watch confirmed that I had.)

I came pelting down that last little bit running like I knew what I was doing. I thought that some of my friends might be on the sideline to cheer me on, but if they were, I never saw or heard them. It didn’t matter. It was all about me at that moment. I pushed and pressed and ran and ran, and then I crossed the finish mats and it was all done. 13.1 miles, and nearly every inch of it run by my legs and lungs.

I switched off my watch as I crossed the mats, and I fell into a staggering walk, suddenly limping because my left knee asserted itself again. Maybe I exaggerated the limp. Maybe I didn’t. I don’t know. I think I was more pooped by that last quarter-mile push than by any mechanical failure of my running mechanism. I stopped at the man who would clip the tag from my shoe and nearly fell over when I tried to lift my foot. He graciously told me to leave my foot on the ground and he would remove the tag that way. Then I greedily accepted the bottle of water someone offered me. And then I stepped up to the man who hung a medal around my neck.


It was a good run. I had been fearing a repeat of my first half marathon, but I ran my plan and seemed to have conquered myself. (I beat my last half marathon time by 8 minutes!) Clearly I need to do some exercises to strengthen that knee. And somehow I need to wrap my poor brain around the fact that I must do twice this distance in October when I run a full marathon in Portland.

But there was chocolate milk to be drunk. And a foam roller to be pressed to my flesh. And a hot epsom salts bath to take.

And I need to start preparing for my next half marathon, just over two months away. The boy is insane.



Tuesday, April 15th, 2014


Looking generally up, I snapped this photo of the solitary Shagbark Hickory that sits on our north-facing slope. I guess the last time I mentioned it was in this 2006 post. I’ve been by this area plenty of times since then, but like the subject of yesterday’s post, I guess I never saw fit to take a picture.

In that old post I mention how this solitary hickory sits near our solitary walnut tree. In my stompings around Roundrock in the many years that have passed since then I’ve since found many more walnut trees. They’re not particularly common, but there are more than I knew back then. I’ve also spotted at least one other Shagbark Hickory in my woods. It’s much younger than this old tree, and its bark is not nearly as shaggy, but at least there’s another. Maybe then can pollinate eventually, and even if it doesn’t result in more trees, the squirrels in my forest (of which there do not seem to be many either) can feast better.


It’s interesting to go back to these old posts on this humble blog and read the comments that were left. Some of those oldtimers are still regular visitors and commenters here, but others are absent, and their links no longer work. Two I know of have been liberated from their earthly toil. Reading these comments gives me a melancholy kind of comfort.

carry that weight ~ revisited, again

Monday, April 14th, 2014


On our last trip to Roundrock, our feet found their way to the western end of our woods and in the neighborhood of this balanced, fallen snag. I’d first written about it way back here. Then again here (with a lot of ambitious dreams thrown in). And again here (more than six years ago).

I’m sure I’ve been by the area in those last six years, but I guess I never stopped to take a photo. I certainly never wrote about it again. I did take a photo this most recent time, and you can see that the snag is still balanced on that poor Blackjack Oak. You can see from the angle of this photo that the top branches of the fallen snag are resting on the ground, and that is why, I am sure, the rest of the tree — the bole — has been able to stay “balanced” as it has.

What you can’t tell from this photo is that the bent and put-upon Blackjack Oak has died. It’s always a race to the sunlight for the smaller trees, and with its leafy parts pressed to the forest floor, I think the poor tree just couldn’t make a go of it.

So now the drama may enter a new chapter. I suppose with all of the tension on that dead oak, it will eventually snap under the weight of the tree resting on it. Then that snag can finally rest on the ground as it has been trying to do for a long, long time.


Skywatch Friday ~ kite

Friday, April 11th, 2014


This is actually a significant picture. Since we had the dam built — now a decade ago — Libby has attempted to fly a kite off of it. The woods are, of course, too dense to fly a kit in. And the open meadow on the ridgetop is our neighbor’s property. There really is no open space at Roundrock besides the top of the dam, with the expanse of the lake behind it and the acre of young pecan trees below it. Perched atop the dam, on the few feet of earth between these openings, Libby has tried over the years to raise a kite into the sky.

The winds coming from the west are, alas, variable. They are rarely constant enuf to sustain the flight of a kite. Libby can usually get it into the air, but then the wind fails and the kite falls into the dense growth on the face of the dam. Then it is often a small chore to extract it, with is plumage, from the tall scrub that grows there. (I’m supposed to mow that stuff, but the side of the dam is too steep. And it’s much too much expanse to attack with the grass whip.)

On our last trip to Roundrock, Libby tried once again to fly her kite. The wind had been strong in the days before (I know this first hand as a runner), so her expectation was high. And as you can see, she did get the kite into the air. I took this photo from across the pecan plantation where I had wandered to look at this and that. This was her greatest success; she had never gotten the kite as high in the blue as she did on this attempt.

But the wind failed her. Not long after I took this photo, the wind died and the kite fell. She made more attempts, but she never repeated this success that day. Nonetheless, she has left the kite at the cabin, and it will be there with its potential for our next visit.


That gray smudge you see snaking up from the bottom of the photo is yet another bit of clutter within the lens mechanism of the camera I have and use.



Wednesday, April 9th, 2014


With the lake currently in retreat, Libby and I (and the dogs) can walk in the dry bed and see that there is to see. There is plenty of the above to see.

These are the roots of one of the many, many willow trees that are growing in my lake bed. They’re not the stately weeping willows you see beside many manicured park ponds, but I suppose they are a native variety; I haven’t bothered to try to identify them. Instead, I try to liberate them from their earthly toil (as I do the cedars).

It’s a virtually pointless effort. There are far more willows than there are hours in Pablo’s day, and even a dedicated effort with handsaw and loppers makes barely a visible change in their appearance from afar. The job is so overwhelming that I often despair and don’t even begin when I stand before them with tools in hand.

A year ago, I had selected one of the more solitary clumps — they seem to be more like unruly shrubs than actual trees — and devoted myself to clearing it. And I did, right down to the gnarl of roots, just as you see above. Then the spring rains came and the lake filled. And I fully expected that the willow would come back, more vigorously than before from having been thinned.

That didn’t happen. The chopped-down willow remained chopped down. So this winter, Libby and I attacked another of the more solitary shrubs, resulting in a similar clump of roots and truncated stumps. My hope is that this one won’t come back either. That will leave us with perhaps only a thousand more of the damned things to eradicate, and even that won’t halt the arrival of more.

The wood is no good in the fire. It hisses and burns fast and leaves a lot of ash. But it is satisfying to burn it nonetheless.

I suppose the willows growing in the shallow parts of the lake provide some kind of habitat for the fish and other aquatic critters, and by leaving the wad of roots, I suppose I’m not altering that benefit much. But the clump of roots left by the first one I liberated is beginning to loosen its hold on the ground, and I intend to torment it until I can tug the whole mass of it free and drag it deep into the forest where it can return to the soil.



Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

ceegarLong before there was a Cabin at the End of the Road, and long before there was even a road, and certainly long before the running mania overtook me, I occasionally partook of a vice while in my woods. I smoked a ceegar.

It used to be that we would hike — bushwhack was more like it — to the farthest point of our 80 acres and set ourselves on a large rock that was a bit of exposed ledge. It sits above the pecan plantation, which itself sits below the dam, which itself sits below the Cabin at the End of the Road, but this was in the days before any of that existed. We were proud of ourselves for have gotten this far in our untracked wilderness (which was only a half mile from where we left the truck, but it was a big deal to our tenderfoot selves). And I would reward myself with the ceegar, which I had purchased from a friend’s store back in faraway suburbia earlier in the week, and which I would generally select whatever kind came in a metal tube because cool.

Then I would sit on the exposed ledge, light the ceegar with one of the light-anywhere matches I had carried in with me, and proceed to spend a half hour or more puffing on the thing and thinking of my grandfather, who smoked a ceegar, and the idyllic boyhood summers I spent in Kentucky on his small farm.

Then I would add the metal tube to the collection of them I had lined up on that bit of exposed ledge, and we would proceed with our hike in the trackless wilderness. It was foolishness, of course, and not healthy, but I told myself that it was only once (or twice) a month, and so I enjoyed it back in those carefree and innocent (pre-running) days.

That must have been more than five years ago. A lot has changed about Pablo in that time, and I’m not only talking about the running mania. I don’t smoke ceegars anymore, though I do miss them because they remind me of my grandfather, and I run, a lot (though not very fast).

It happened that on my most recent trip to Roundrock, I found that my feet had carried me over to this bit of exposed ledge where we used to direct ourselves. It’s now just across the dam and up the hill a ways. Hardly an adventure anymore, but still a place I don’t visit enuf. And what I found is what you see in the photo above.

I’d known for a long time that some critter lived under the exposed ledge. I used to artfully arrange the bones of various animals on that large rock, and I would find them missing on subsequent visits. Often, they were in or partly in the cavity under the rock. The critter must have wanted to gnaw on them for their mineral content, which is certainly fine with me. What I hadn’t known was that the critter had also collected some of the metal ceegar tubes I had lined up on the rock. There were dozens of them over the time I partook, and on one late visit I had collected what was there and carried it out as trash that did not belong in the woods. But evidently I had missed some.

When I was by the spot on my last visit, I saw this tube and another that were pushed out of the cavity. It must have been spring cleaning time for the critter. And clearly the critter had collected these tubes to store as its provender. I can understand why. It must have been aromatic, with the smell of the tobacco infused in the tube. Yet it also proved to be not all that helpful with nutrition and such, and now, after five or so years, it had been pushed out as trash.

I did not pick up the two tubes while I was there. They reminded me of my past self, which reminded me of my grandfather. If Roundrock has any purpose for me, these seem to be good contributors to that.


another post post

Monday, April 7th, 2014

postsRight now it’s all about preparing for the twenty-five shortleaf pines I ordered from the Missouri Department of Conservation. They’re due to arrive at my home in faraway suburbia later this month (any day, actually). And when they arrive, I hope my next weekend is free (two running events coming up) so I can spend the weekend at my woods, planting them. (Actually, in past years, I have stuck the trees in a pot of soil back in faraway suburbia and kept them for several weeks before planting them.)

Protecting the pines from the ravaging deer is always the biggest job. Generally we drive two steel posts into the ground beside each pine — not so hard to do in the good soil of the pine plantation but a loud and nerve-damaging task in the rocky soil elsewhere — and then loop a length of chicken wire fencing around them. The deer then attack the fencing, probably to rub the velvet from their antlers but also possibly just to bug me, and it is often knocked down far enuf so that they can then damage the bark on the pine too. Sweet little things!

I’ve estimated that I have around 100 steel fence posts doing all kinds of work at Roundrock. At nearly $5 each, you see what an investment I have in them. (It creeps up on you when you only buy a few at a time.) So in recent years, Libby and I have been making posts out of the many, many cedar trees we have growing at Roundrock.

For pounding into the ground among the pines, they’re just about ideal: cheap, abundant, easy to manufacture, long lasting. And I reduce the surplus cedar population. In the photo above you can see thirteen that we made on our last visit. They await their ultimate use. You can also see some already put to use on the left side of the photo.

Curiously, the deer seem to leave these alone too. While the fencing and the trees guarded by the steel posts get ravaged, not one of the pines (or their fences) that have cedar posts around them have been disturbed. We’d long noticed that when the deer are destroying random small trees to rub off their velvet, they never do this to the cedars, which would seem to be ideal for the job. I realize my experience is limited to my minimal observations, but it makes me wonder if there is something about the cedars — their smell or their oily sap? — that the deer do not like. In once case, we planted a pine beside a single cedar post and then never got around to putting up the second post or even putting the fencing around it. Yet on my last visit — a year later — I saw that little pine alive and unmolested. Is it possible that the mere proximity of the cedar post is enuf to keep the deer away. (Or, perhaps more likely, was the little pine simply overlooked?)

Most of the pines will go into the ground of the pine plantation, but maybe ten of them will go into the fenced area atop Danger Island. We put a dozen up there, and they all died from drought (I think). Yet when we visited the forlorn fencing, we found that two pines had survived in the dense scrub that had overtaken them. And when we were by on our last visit, we found a third pine there that had survived. Ever hopeful!


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