I am in the final 30-days of my daughter Selina’s high school experience and as a single
parent and a hobby farmer am literally in the busiest stretch of my life. This week I am going
to write something very different than usual, but in reality very much the same.
I am sitting at a table outside where I am going to describe three ways that trees affect my
life and pretty much always have.
Back in 1973 I was a 7th grader at Poynette Middle School and in my opinion the best
teacher that I ever had was Walter Scott. Mr. Scott was our science teacher and he was fun,
tough, treated us like adults, and most importantly he taught us about nature and the
Field trips might have been building brush piles along Rowan Creek, or to the Columbia
Power Plant often happened. Mr. Scott was dead against coal burning power plants 46-years
ago and when we did our tour I remember him asking the guide some very uncomfortable
questions concerning fossil fuels and what they emit into the air.
I also mentioned brush piles and Mr. Scott was incredible in how he taught us that instead of
burning or removing brush, pile it up and make homes for anything from rabbits to birds. The
beauty of the brush pile is that when it is completely broken down it becomes earth just like
what nurtured the trees before they became a brush pile.
So here is to you Mr. Scott if you are still alive and maybe reading this week’s column. I am
outside next to a brush pile that I built 15-years ago and I just keep adding new brush to it
every year. I have brush piles all over my property and it is really cool to watch the trails in
the winter made by rabbits as they go from one to another.
Brush piles help create shelter from predators and cover from weather and they do not cost
a dime to build.
Also directly in front of me are a great many trees that I have planted from spruce to red and
white pine, maple, ash and hybrid pople. I planted some of them 20-years ago and others just
a couple of days ago. I like the privacy of my natural fence (they are not planted in rows) and
the simple pleasure of seeing birds nesting in trees that I planted.
When we were very young kids my dad the late Robert Walters got us hooked on planting
trees and no matter where I am, I always notice the trees.
I am what you could call a low income, independent, kind of person, I am sitting very close to
240 hills of Yukon Gold and Pontiac Reds potatoes that I just finished planting and I have
enough left from last year to last me until my first harvest in July.
Something that has bothered me for several years is that I do not have an official woodshed.
My splitter is an incredible machine built by Terry Green 18-years ago. Terry is blind but you
would never know it.
I have always just tarped the splitter, but this spring I am building a shed that I can haul my
cut firewood to and split inside. In other words not in the rain or snow. I will put lights in it, and
then I can split wood in the winter in the dark.
If you may remember, about 5-years ago I was splitting wood in the dark with this same
splitter one cold December night. My body worked faster than my brain and I crushed my left
hand and broke three fingers length wise. This winter that just passed, that injury started
letting me know what the future holds.
I have heated my homes on a full time basis with wood since 1992 and believe that cutting
firewood, the soothing heat from an in the house stove and sitting in a hot bath almost every
night (that I am home) are some of the main reasons that at 57 I really do not feel any
different than I did at 27 (other than brain injuries incurred over the last year).
I have to admit that as I write this weeks column to you from my little paradise I am also
drinking a very tasty can of beer. I have never became inebriated by myself. On the other
hand, almost every day since I was a very young man I have drank a can of beer at the end of
the day and I think that little gift to myself is also very good for me.
Soon the last bird will fly from the nest and that will make me very sad! Sunset