This has been quite a year, one of unbelievable contrasts. It began with little activity. And is ending with things in sheer overload. Yet the future is bewildering.
As you will see, this is probably the longest newsletter ever published at Shady Pond but there are lots of things happening. Please take the time to browse through the sections below. You may find one or more of them of interest.
Last season a number of the customers declared that I was 'Mr. Meany' for not opening the field nearest the tree farm entrance. (This is Field 'E'.) Well, wait until you see them now. In all sincerity, I have never seen any group of trees anywhere of more consistent beauty. So when you arrive at Shady Pond this year please know, oo's and ah's are welcome.
But even with the uncertainty that lies ahead for all of us, Christmas is here once again. Thank goodness it is dependable. So, we hope to see each of you again this year.
Shady Pond Tree Farm
Christmas Tree Varieties:
a stately beauty from England.
a unique tree from the Orient.
a selection from New Zealand.
the aroma of lemon and mint.
The winds of Georges came and went leaving mostly minor bumps and bruises at Shady Pond with one exception, the old persimmon tree near the barn.
Now persimmon trees are nasty things. The fruit is pungent and tart, and noted for causing uncontrollable puckering in the mouths of the inexperienced consumer. As they become more than ripe, the little orange globs fall to the ground and make an awful mess.
But in the fall of the year, the racoons and possums gather after dark in the branches of the nasty old tree to consume the nectar of the gods. It is not uncommon to see a half dozen or more of the furry little creatures working their way to the fruit dangling in the outer reaches of the old tree's canopy. I am always amused by the number of eyes that glow in a flash light beam in late October and November.
As lowly as the tree was, something had to be said for perseverance. It had taken lightening strikes on numerous occasions and always survived. The tree would lay down giant scabs of sap and bark over the injured wood and immediately return to its reason for existence, the production of its awful fruit. The most recent hit removed literally half the tree. And even before the broken limb was dry enough to burn, a new shoot was emerging from just below the fracture.
So Georges has had his turn at trying to destroy the rugged old tree. But I am betting on the tree. Because Georges made the critical mistake of leaving about 7 feet of the trunk and a healthy root system in tact. And if I know that persimmon tree, it will return with a vengeance. There are lots of racoons and possums yet to be fed.
In truth, my faith in the durability of the persimmon tree exceeded the its ability to recover from winds of Georges. The stub that remained after the storm had passed was removed in early 1999; not a pleasant chore.
But by the arrival of the new millennium, little persimmon trees were everywhere. The rugged old tree's progeny were not about to give-up the fight. Apparently that spot at Shady Pond is theirs. It is a matter of property rights.
With more than a little uncertainty, I selected two to carry-on. One would be the primary successor, the other would be the backup. I staked them so they would not be cut during mowing. But there was serious doubt as to the viability of the plants. Was pollenation adequate? Had the seed been sufficiently stratified by the winter cold? Actually, there was only one way to learn the answers. The trees themselves would provide them in time.
It has taken almost a decade for the little trees to mature to the point of bearing fruit. And in 2009 they passed from adolescence to adulthood. So once again, the little orange globs fall to the ground and make an awful mess. And in the fall of the year, the racoons and possums gather after dark in the branches of the nasty trees to consume the nectar of the gods.
We all have a calling. Yet the word 'calling' is weak and infers that compliance is optional. Nothing could be further from the truth. 'Compulsion' actually comes closer to describing the recurring, invariant, compelling dream that many of us have to pursue a particular activity. How terrible it must be for those who never find the pursuit that needs their special individual abilities. For some, it just never seems to happen. And for others, it happens but it is not intense enough to become a guiding force in their lives.
But when Trina Smith found her compulsive dream, she also learned that there was lots of work ahead. And as with those of us who are lucky enough to live our dreams, the effort is a tiny price to pay for the opportunity to do what we do.
Trina's dream was a gift shop with coffee on the side. She was comfortable with the gift component but not too thrilled with the coffee part. But her sister, Marcie, had the needed culinary bent. And with a little of this and some of that, Precious Pearls was beginning to take shape. And Trina's dream became real in the Fall of 2003.
The first few years included all the obstacles that are normal in bringing dreams to reality. Then in early 2008, Precious Pearls Coffee and Tea Café became much better defined when it relocated to its new facility on Highway 41.
Precious Pearls includes both indoor and outdoor seating and an excellent lunch menu. It is operated by Trina Smith with Chef Marcie Roberts, Trina's daughter, Tiffany, and son, Adam. Rachel Cialona spends her time there too. But since Rachel is not kin to anyone in the group, she has the additional duty of being referee should family disputes arise.
Trina's husband Donnie is the behind-the-scenes guy adding moral support, advice, and hands-on skill to keep the equipment operating and the building in good order. As you would expect he is Precious Pearls biggest supporter.
The folks at Precious Pearls have been busy creating some real Christmas delights to bring to Shady Pond; yummy stuff like pecan pie muffins, biscuits and honey, brownies, and bread pudding. And on the lighter side the girls are bringing Holiday beverages including hot chocolate, apple cider, caramel apple pie tea, and cherry lemonade.
So be sure to partake of the Precious Pearls Christmas goodies so you will be sufficiently fueled for selecting the perfect tree. The goodies will be at Shady Pond from 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. weekends.
To say Katrina left us an ample supply of firewood is an understatement. And most of it went up in flames but it was not in fireplaces. Few of us could find the time or energy to cut, split, and stack it with all the other chores she left for us to do.
In the weeks that followed the storm, Adam Bruder found himself on an unplanned sabbatical from UNO where he was an undergraduate studying Mechanical Engineering. And once things were back in order at the Bruder house near Shady Pond, he decided to cut firewood rather than waste his Katrina 'vacation'. Fortunately for Shady Pond, Adam found the nearly limitless supply of downed Water Oaks here hard to resist. He gathered all the wood in blocks small enough to handle from one end of the Farm to the other. Adam's efforts helped to hurry the cleanup significantly.
The logs are now fully seasoned and are ready for the fireplace. So when you come the Shady Pond this season, remember to replenish your stock of firewood for this coming winter. Let the oaks from Shady Pond add to the warmth of your Christmas. They'll 'make complete a cozy scene'.
Adam will be available on weekends from noon to 5:00 P.M. to help with your firewood needs.
Last year's wreath project was a real success. So, Cindy, Durben, and Angela are returning. Fine tuning new offerings is always necessary to get things just right. This season the wreaths will be made on-site during the weekends.
Angela hopes to stay ahead of the orders with the basic wreath making. And Cindy will be available to custom decorate your wreath if you wish. But like most guys, Durben gets the yucky jobs like rough cutting foliage and dipping.
Wreaths will be available in 14-inch and 24-inch ring sizes. Foliage choices include Virginia Pine, Arizona Cypress, Leyland Cypress, and mixed. And if you would like a unique motif or want to avoid a potential delay at the Farm, contact Cindy at Flowers-N-Stuff, 985-863-5055. She will make every effort to accommodate your wishes.
Even though they had to pull that green wagon every single weekend last year, Nugget and Murdock decided that Christmas at Shady Pond was really kinda fun. They met lots of nice people. And all the folks had big smiles on their faces at the end of their ride. They really liked the big red bows that the wreath ladies made for their harnesses.
When Nugget and Murdock come this year, they will be bring Brian and Laurie Hyde with them. They need Mr. Brian to tell them when to start, when to stop, and where to turn. Miss. Laurie will collect the money and use it to buy their food. She will also make sure all the riders are on the green wagon and sitting down before Mr. Brian tells Nugget and Murdock to start.
Being Haflingers, Nugget and Murdock would rather be in the mountains. But giving people rides on their green wagon at Christmas is a good job too.
Nugget, Murdock, Brian, and Laurie will be at Shady Pond on weekends from 10:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. weather permitting.