The nice weather has given us a chance to get caught up on some of the things that need to be done around the place. Michael and I spent all day Saturday cutting trees that have taken over the pasture. Honey Locust, Osage Orange, and Ash trees are the main culprits.
Our place is protected on two sides by shelter belts of trees that were planted in the 1940s. Folks found out pretty fast during the dust bowl days that a few trees planted in belts or a series of rows went a LONG way toward slowing down the relentless Kansas wind. Those shelter belts have provided protection from the cold blasts of winter, provided shelter for all kinds of wildlife, firewood, and are just pretty to look at.
No complaints until they began to shell out seed for new generations. This is the prairie. Grass as far as you can see is my idea of heaven. Of course, it hasnt been that way for 130 years. Homesteading brought farmers and plows and soon the prairie retreated to only the land that could not be farmed either because of steep slopes or rocky conditions. The land was farmed without regard to the consequences. Eventually, Mamma Nature showed that generation of farmers the error of their ways. The Great Plains cycle is one of years of abundant rainfall and years of very little rainfall. The drought years separate the men from the boys ya might say. The Great Depression of the 1930s just happened to coincide with one of the driest periods of time since farming had turned the grass upside down.
When it was all over with the farmers and ranchers of the Great Plains viewed the country with lessons from the school of nature. The land was farmed to conserve moisture and trees were planted in shelter belts to break up the wind patterns on the ground. Weve been enjoying the benefits of those practices for decades now. But, along with the good ya always seem to have to put up with a little bad. In this case trees have sprouted and grown all over the place. If left to nature, my pasture would become a forest completely choking out the wonderful native grasses that were once the mainstay of the great herds of buffalo, elk, and antelope.
So, here we are on a beautiful weekend, cutting trees, burning brush piles and stacking firewood. I am sure the folks who first settled this land would be amazed. Some pastures can be burned to control the woody species and we do that where conditions allow. Controlling trees has all become a natural part of managing the grasslands so that they will still be here another 130 years from now. Sure is nice to look out over that pasture and see the crick bank again!