Thank goodness fall has arrived. The cooler temperatures are more than welcome. And hopefully the hurricanes have gone for another year. One a week was a bit much.
At Shady Pond, Isidore was largely a non-event. With the exception of the rain, there was little other impact at the Farm. The rain total did exceed 8.7-inches though.
Finding ourselves in the legendary ‘Northeast Quadrant', Lili was a slightly different story. A feeder band running from the Mouth of the Mississippi through Slidell and Pearl River lingered for hours fueling the storm. And though the rain fall totals were not as great as from Isidore, a mere 6.5-inches, it came in a much shorter time. The pond here got really really big. But most of the water was gone by noon the next day.
The trees faired well through both storms and they are ready to assist in your Christmas celebration. So we hope to see each of you again this year.
Shady Pond Tree Farm
Christmas Tree Varieties:
a stately beauty from England.
Leighton Green, Castlewellan, Silver Dust
a unique tree from the Orient.
a selection from New Zealand.
the aroma of lemon and mint.
from the western Himalayas with silver needles.
a southern Christmas tradition.
the memories of Christmas past.
(Monday through Friday)
Pretag by Appointment
(Saturday & Sunday)
Pretag 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.
9:00 to 5:00
9:00 to 5:00
3:00 to 5:00
I headed to the barn early one morning to warmup the old International Harvester B-414D in preparation for more burn pile building. The tractor started as it always did in about a half revolution of the crank shaft but it sounded a bit odd.
Now understand that old tractor was like an extension of my own body. I knew every squeak, rattle, click, and groan. I could tell which gear it was in at a thousand feet or more just by the sound it made; a fact that the members of our crew always found frustrating when they were caught driving it too fast. But this was a new sound and not a good one.
I killed the engine immediately and set out to investigate. I opened the hood and found that all of its external components were just fine. Then I removed the dipstick and a small fountain of water, and coolant, flowed from the dipstick tube. This was really bad news.
Based on the level of the water in the crankcase, I concluded the one of the cylinder sleeves had cracked. Although expensive, engines of this general type are overhauled regularly. So, I called the most competent engine shop I know in the Baton Rouge area but the prognosis was not encouraging. Parts for the BD-154 engine were no longer available. This illness was terminal. The old B-414 tractor would have to be replaced.
I remember the day it arrived here just like it was yesterday. It was in the spring of 1963; 39-years ago. It replaced a Ford 8-N that came as part of the original property purchase.
With relatively minor repairs, the tractor logged over 8000- hours of operation in those 39-years. That's the equivalent of 400,000-miles in car terms. It even out lasted my marriage.
Clearly its replacement would have big shoes to fill. It would have to be able to perform all the ordinary farm chores plus fit comfortably between the rows of Christmas trees. It would have to be in the vineyard tractor category.
After investigating offerings from Ford-New Holland, Landini, and John Deere, a John Deere 5320N was ordered. The ‘N' in the model number indicates narrow. This special made vineyard tractor weighs nearly 7,000 lbs. It is outfitted with the most advanced features including a 12-speed synchronized transmission and a 55-HP turbo-charged diesel engine.
So when you visit Shady Pond this season, give the new John Deere a good inspection. In about 40-years, I'll let you know how well it filled the B-414's shoes. ...Clarke
So if during your time here you select any of the Arizona Cypress clones (Carolina Sapphire, Silver Smoke, Blue Ice), or a King William's Pine; we suggest that you not cut the tree until about 2-weeks before Christmas. Then use one of the remote watering systems to be absolutely sure the tree never ever is without water even for a short time period. These extremely beautiful trees will help you celebrate a truly special Christmas.
Each tree at Shady Pond is measured and tagged with its height range. The height ranges are given in one foot increments with a reasonable allowance for the cut. And with the sky as the ceiling, the trees always look shorter than they are in fact. The measuring and tagging process is very time consuming and is done carefully using a measuring pole. So, accept the height range shown on the tag as accurate.
Removing the bottom limbs and ‘trimming' the trunk is a ‘hold-over' from the days when trees were always purchased on the corner tree lot. But it is best not to over buy with the intent of adjusting the tree height later. And this old practice will almost always result in premature dry-out. The standard residential ceiling height is 8-feet. So a 6- 7 foot tree when placed in a stand will leave just enough room for the angel on top.
Christmas tree limbs are very flexible in one direction but not the other. They bend easily toward the top of the tree but not so toward the bottom of the tree. So the wind will blow the limbs toward the top of the tree on your drive home, load it on top your car or in the bed of your truck, in the butt (stump) forward position.
Following these simple rules will simplify your tree purchase and increase your holiday enjoyment.
Now if any of you have any doubts regarding the benefits of burning, just observe the relative sizes of the newly planted trees. Those planted in the ash are fully 5-times the size of those planted in native soil alone.
Yes, controlled burning is a very effective component of land management.
The scaley little beast appears to be an itinerant living alternately in the pond here and the Boyet pond a comparatively short swim away. The commute is really rather simple; just slip over the level control weir, then through the outlet pipe and down the ditch to the road, go under the road through the culvert and you are essentially there.
And the reptile's curiosity is nothing short of amazing. It seems to be really taken with grass cutting (I'm not making this up); he apparently gets some kind of prehistoric thrill by watching it. He positions himself on the bank of the pond in his favorite spot and watches the tractor go by on each round. But bite a tractor tire and he's gone.