Hi Folks,

The spring of 2003 was unsettled here at Shady Pond. In early April, the Farm was struck by a tornado that accompanied a very intense squall line. I had gone to the chiropractor to get my personal structure plumb and square for the summer's activity and returned to find a dozen huge trees uprooted. Most were Water Oaks but the list included a Live Oak and Poplar as well.

It was a typical tornado totally destroying the huge trees in its path while the Christmas trees growing just a few feet away remained untouched. Trust me, dealing with them would have been much easier. Many of the downed trees had trunks 3 to 4- feet in diameter.

Nonetheless, recovery is sure but painfully slow. And things around the house and barns are plodding back to normal.

The Christmas trees faired well and they are ready to assist in your Holiday celebration. So, we hope to see each of you again this year.

Merry Christmas,

Shady Pond Tree Farm

    Christmas Tree Varieties:

  • Leyland Cypress-
    a stately beauty from England.
    Leighton Green, Castlewellan, Silver Dust

  • King William's Pine-
    a unique tree from the Orient.

  • Silver Smoke-
    a selection from New Zealand.

  • Carolina Sapphire-
    the aroma of lemon and mint.

  • Deodar Cedar-
    from the western Himalayas with silver needles.

  • Hoven's Blue Cedar-
    a southern Christmas tradition.

  • Virginia Pine-
    the memories of Christmas past.

Map to Shady Pond Tree Farm

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Tree Farm Schedule:

Setting opening times is always a challenge. We are testing a somewhat different schedule as shown in the calendars below. But should a Christmas tree emergency arise, call ahead and we will make every effort to accommodate your needs.

Rats in Drag

The Poplar that went down in the tornado fell on the house. Although it was not as massive as the oaks, it was still a 45-footer with a 24-inch butt and by no means tiny. Laden with spring sap and fresh foliage, it did significant damage. Thank goodness Kelly Barber and his aerial lift were available on short notice. They made quick work of the tree.

Fortunately, it was the garage that took the hit and not the living area. I say ‘fortunately' with more than a little reservation. On my return here late in 1999, the garage became the storage location for the machine tools that follow me through life. The contents were far more valuable than the garage itself. It pleased the building's insurer that the damage did not include a total collapse under the weight of the old Poplar.

From the beginning, I planned to renovate the milking barn that Norma Wallace and Pete Herman built some 75 years ago. It would become the on-site machine shop. Thankfully that project was well underway when the storm hit.

Since the garage would have to be emptied before it could be repaired, putting the barn renovation on the fast track was the obvious choice. The work has continued 7-days a week ever since.

A rather intricate concrete overlay had been poured over the existing slab earlier in the year. So, structural work commenced post haste. To ensure the stability of the old building, the project proceeded in phases keeping the wall coverings in place in part of the structure while the roof was lifted and studs, sills, and plates were replaced in other areas.

The fact that the milking barn housed a rather abundant rat population was well known. But I had no idea just how abundant it was until the wall coverings were removed. Several feet of rat pellets were found in the wall bottoms. It had to be shoveled out. Then articles of clothing began to surface, and tea cups, and spoons.

What had they been doing in the old barn all these years? Were the rats dressing up at night and having little parties? Were these rats in drag? Or had they taken a cue from the earlier property owner and established a rodent's brothel?

With the manure piled outside the building, the rains began. Although the grass grew intensely, the smell was awful. Then I discovered that the odor of wet rat manure attracts snakes, a fact that I was unaware of but made perfect sense when fully analyzed. If you were a snake in search of lunch, where would you look? Just follow your nose.

There were snakes hunting rats and snakes hunting snakes. Neither found their prey. Since I had cleared the area of the rat hunters, the king snakes had to be content planning ways to down my air hose. Surely the hose would not wage much of a battle and all the preliminary twisting and constricting could be skipped. But given its length, it would have been a significant challenge, no doubt, and nearly impossible to digest..................Clarke

Messages from the Past

As the renovation work on the milking barn continued, little messages began to appear; things like nailing patterns and splices, things that began to tell stories.

Apparently the building was built in phases probably to conserve funds. When it was expanded to its current size, half of the gable roof was moved as a single prefabricated piece complete with rafters and decking. It must have taken a whole crowd of workers to complete the transfer.

Most of the materials were used as indicated by the location of the original nail holes. And a significant portion of the barn's structure was heart cypress. Termites totally consumed many of the building's pine components but left the cypress ones untouched. As part of the renovation work, the cypress studs and plates were removed, cleaned and checked for dimensional accuracy. Those that passed the inspection were reinstalled giving them a third life. Those that were not usable in the building's structure became exterior window sills.

Duplicating the past is no small undertaking. To complete the roof decking a special order of tongue and groove boards was needed. Mike's Hardware obtained them from Klumb Forest Products. Corrugated Industries agreed to roll Galvalume roof material in the wavy pattern commonly seen in rural America; modern metallurgy in antique form. But the most challenging of all was the exterior wall material.

Jenkins Lumber Company provided rough cut lumber for board and batten siding kiln dried to 19% moisture. And the massive boards were installed randomly in widths of 8, 10, and 12-inches to duplicate the prudent use of materials common in days gone by.

But the interior is a different matter. Its design is current and focused on near surgical cleanliness with an epoxy floor. Integrated air and dust collection systems are included. Those who step through the door will advance a century in time, an interesting contrast.

The Farm has been in desperate need of such a facility for years. And thanks to the tornado, it is getting it in record time.

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