At one time, our entire pasture of more than sixty acres was forested. Keith’s dad still remembers helping his own father fell trees and pull stumps, to finish clearing it for farming. Decades before that, a different family had begun the work. It was relentless, hand-blistering, and back-breaking work. Unfortunately, I didn’t know this, until after I had happily announced we were planting trees on the perimeter. Ever since and with each tree planted, it’s been bittersweet. I often struggle with all the lifework it seems we’re undoing.
Still, we plant trees every year on our homestead. Over the last decade, more than 3000 have been hand-laid and machine trenched. We have also planted a few hundred trees by hand. In addition to our orchard, this section along our drive is an example. Most of these trees were hand-dug from the woods of our homestead and transplanted. Today, the tamaracks are ten to fourteen-feet tall and the spruces are catching up fast.
This year, we’re reaping some of the benefits from these trees. They decorate and welcome guests along our driveway. Birds nest in the trees. Four-legged creatures seek shelter under them. They work as a natural snow fence. And one day, they will be an effective wind-break for our future home.
Keith and I also see another benefit. We are looking forward to the day that our sons look up at sixty-foot tall trees. And the moment when they look down at their children and say, “I remember when these trees were planted. I helped to do it. Even though those trees were no bigger than you, it was hard work. Now look at them!” Maybe, their younger kids will be in awe. And maybe their older kids will yawn and roll their eyes. Regardless, as long as these trees stand, Keith and I will have sown far more than “just a tree”. Meanwhile, we’ll keep praying that no one will ever have to remove the stumps, by hand.