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.
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.
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, with out them we would have not been able to tell were the trees were planted because of the tall weeds.
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.
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.
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.