With a morning of tree planting behind us and an afternoon of it ahead of us, we knew we couldn’t linger under the tarp forever. But the view of the lake was alluring, and the chairs didn’t want to let go, so it was with a bit of effort that rose from our post-lunch stupor and got ourselves back in the spirit of doing chores.
Our first task was to restring the tarp so that it would hold itself together a little longer. (It would be nice if it lasted through the summer to shelter us from the sun.) The old rope we had used was little more than twine, and it wasn’t staying in place on the posts, so the tarp didn’t stay under tension. It flapped in the breeze, and one corner had come loose altogether, whipping itself into a tattered state, as you can see here.
We had a wide selection of ropes and prices at the big box hardware store, and we opted for a nylon rope, which you see in the top photo and which was too dazzling to photograph in full sunlight, so I shaded it with my body to take the picture. That’s supposed to be a taut line hitch I tied, but I think it may be a bit modified. I changed the knot after I tied it the first time so that it would keep more straight line tension on the rope. Works for me anyway.
Once we had the tarp snugged up sufficiently, we turned our enthusiasm toward planting the remaining shortleaf pines in the ground.
You will recall that the center of the pecan plantation has been a graveyard for pecan trees. It doesn’t get enuf water, and the soil is mostly gravel. But I understand that pines can thrive in these conditions, so we took ourselves and our bundle of remaining pines down to the pecan plantation and got to work.
This area is planted in a grid, and it was easy to find where a pecan tree should have been growing (but wasn’t). And it was in some of these spots that we put in the pines. When I looked up from our work after a short while, I realized that we had planted eight pines in the middle of the pecan plantation. They are in parallel lines, so some day we may have an alley of pines down there. Anyway, it will be educational to watch how the pines do in this harsher habitat. (None of the pecans have leafed out yet. It looks grim down there right now, but maybe in a few weeks . . .)
Whilst down there, we wandered over to the outlet for the overflow drain. It was still pushing water against the rocks I had thrown in there a couple of weeks before, but the pressure was not as strong, and perhaps by now the flow has stopped altogether.
About this time, Libby mentioned that she had never seen the Old Man of the Forest. So we thought we would make that our last hike of the day, planting pines as we went.
The Old Man is not on any of the trails we have made (yet), and it is in a remote part of our forest. We only had maybe ten trees left to plant, but we were both justly tired, and the heat was gathering for its afternoon assault. So in my mind’s eye, I tried to figure how we could get to it as much as possible in the truck, leaving the actual footwork to a minimum. And it turned out that if we parked at the entrance to our woods and simply hiked down the creekbed that begins there, this would be the shortest distance.
And so we did. The creek does not travel in a straight line here, and in much of the distance it strays onto our neighbor’s property, so we found ourselves going up and down and over and around. But soon the creek sorts out all of the topography and even flattens out some to allow hiking along it. On most of our hikes along here the creekbed is dry, but on this warming Sunday, there was water in it, both flowing and standing. We saw a number of flowering plants and even one understory tree that was just full of clusters of white flowers. I’d never seen this kind of tree in my forest before, and I took some pictures of it that I’ll share with you.
Planting opportunities were not good along the creek, as you might imagine. The ground there is mostly rock. But when we left the creekbed to climb the hill to the Old Man of the Forest, actual soil made an appearance.
Libby was duly impressed with the Old Man. We found a nearby log and sat to admire it, enjoying a couple of bottles of water and the birdsong all around us. We speculated about why this cedar is so much larger and older than the other cedars in our forest, and the only conclusion we reached is that by being perched near the top of a steep slope, it was too much trouble to be cleared by the ranch hands back in the day.
But there was still some work to do, so we pushed ourselves upright and began poking around, looking for the right combination of open canopy and decent soil. We managed to plant all but three of the pines on this north-facing slope, which will give me another different environment to watch the trees grow in. It was time to turn our steps back to the truck though, and down in the creekbed, which begins to widen a bit at this point, we found some deep, rich-looking soil between the rocks for the remainder of the trees.
Thus we managed to put fifty pine trees in the ground that Sunday. I should start thinking about what to order next year, but I think I’ll contemplate swimming in my full lake instead.
- Hawthorns are blooming in open areas.
- Raccoons bear young.