The Flooding Aftermath


After the the flooding in July we decided not to go back to Iowa to see how the trees fared in the flood until after August 15th. That’s the time the contract with FSA says we can mow around the trees. They don’t want you mowing from May 15th to Aug 15th, when most animals are nesting and having their young.

When we first pulled up and saw our place I didn’t know if we would have any trees that survived. The flood had washed out our pre-emergent herbicide and the weeds had taken over. Most all the tree tubes were there, but leaning so you could see which way the flood current ran. All most all the tubes had weeds growing in them and coming out the top of the tube. Some even had vines growing out of them. The weeds were so high we couldn’t see if any of the trees not in the tubes had made it through the flood.

I got out of my truck and lifted up the first tube and pulled out the weeds that were growing inside carefully so not to pull the tree out as well. After pulling out the weeds I looked at the little seedling and to my surprise it had green leaves on it.

The little tree inside the tube that had survived.

It had survived the floods and the weeds. I put the tube back over it and pounded the stake back straight and removed some of the debris that had acumulated around the base. One done, 299 more to go. I was dripping with sweat after this first one. The tempeture was around 95 with 100% humidty levels, with a heat index of 110. I didn’t know if my wife and I could do all of them in the two days that we were going to be there.

Tree tube with debris piled around base

I let Niki, my wife start the mowing with our tractor and I started working on the tree tubes. Another good thing about the tubes, we could see how our rows ran, without them we would have not been able to tell were the trees were planted because of the tall weeds.

Picture of our rows of tree tubes after pulling the weeds and straightening the stakes, and mowing around them.

Another picture of a tube with debris piled around it.

This was about the time I was having second thoughts about wanting to be a farmer. This was not what I had in mind when I had dreamed about doing farm work. I didn’t know if I could do this without falling over from heat exhaustion. After about a hour I had developed this horrible headache. All my cloths were sopping wet from sweat and the inside of my thighs had started to develope a rash were they were rubbing together. I had no choice,  but to keep going.

Another picture of our tree tubes, if you look closely you can see the tree seedling out line growing in the tube and can see how tall they are.

We got a little over halfway done the first day and went to our hotel room exhausted. We were too tired to go out for dinner. During the night my legs developed  sever cramps, and I didn’t get much sleep. I had my doubts I would be able to continue the next day.

We woke up at 6 the next morning and surprisingly I felt ok. My legs felt good and the rash I had developed the day before was gone. We got started right away while it was still fairly cool. In cooler weather the work went much faster and we finished up by 10:00 am. It felt good to be done.

A tree growing out the top of one of our tree tubes.

The lesson here is, if you are going to plant trees in the country, use tree tubes, and I suggest using the 5 ft. tubes to make it harder for the deer to eat them when they grow out the top of the tube. This fall 2012, will be two years since we planted the trees and  have had 3 floods and a very severe drought. The trees in our tree tubes have had a survival rate of about 85%, the trees not in the tree tubes only about 25%. Also the trees in the tubes have grown twice as fast. The hardwood trees that are planted in the tubes have not emerged out the tops yet, but the wild plumb, wild cherry, and the kentucky coffee trees have. A good source for tree tubes is the Tree Pro, they can help you with all your needs. Call Jeff at 1-800-875-8071

About Gordon Milligan

I am a retired conductor for a commuter railroad in Chicago IL, I now live in and have bought a 40 acre farm in South Central Iowa that I have built from the ground up. My wife and I are trying to raise and grow most of my own food using sustainible and organic methods. I have a blog that journals my journey to becoming a farmer.
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8 Responses to The Flooding Aftermath

  1. John Copsy says:

    With all the hard work you two are putting into the farm, I know it will be a really nice place when you get to move in and live on the property.

  2. Tamicia "Tammy" Coleman says:

    Gordon – glad you told me about your blog. It sounds like you have your work cut out for you, but also sound very dedicated to this project. I am sure it will be all you have wanted and that you and Niki will have a happy future there.

  3. sarah milligan says:

    Really enjoying seeing the pics and reading your blog. Just got done reading it to Tyler.

  4. Hi Gordon – you have the best descriptions of the benefits of tree tubes I have ever read (and I have been in the business of selling and writing about tree tubes for 23 years!). Huge bummer about the previous owners bilking FSA for trees that never grew, leaving you holding the bag. Unfortunately that’s all too common. I wish all landowners were as conscientious about growing trees as you and Niki are! If you’re ever in the market for more tree tubes, let me know and I’ll give you an awesome deal. From a self-sufficiency standpoint if you’re ever interested in acorns as a food source I have a blog you might enjoy. All the best with your great adventure!

    • Thanks Christian for your kind comments. Tree tubes have saved me on this land purchase and I am a big believer in their use. i may take you up on your offer for tree tubes, I need about 25 more. Thanks for stopping by. I will check out your blog about acorns.

  5. Pingback: Advantages and Disadvantages of using Tree Tubes | Milligan's Gander Hill Farm

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