Monday, May 18, 2015

Only the Tough Survive

There was a lot of interest in the living snow fence I planted a few weeks ago.  I bought 100 of these Streamco willows, which are supposed to grow super fast into a dense hedge that will be low maintenance, easy and oh-so-good for everything.

Of course, this "easy" hedge has to be protected from weeds, drought, livestock and probably stray butterflies.  To this end, I put down a layer of landscape fabric covered in a deep layer of mulch hay.

I used these very dead round bales that have been sitting on the edge of my field for the last 5-6 years, slowly rotting away waiting for me to find a use for them. 

It was a nasty job, but I got them torn apart and loaded onto the trailer.

At this point, the herd still had access to the entire field.  I foolishly thought I could get away with doing this job without their help since they were distracted by hints of green grass.  Really, you'd think I'd know better wouldn't you?  What was I thinking?

With a whole field to graze and good hay in the barn, this horrible, nasty, moldy junk that was left to rot because it was crappy hay to start with was just irresistible. 

So, the next step was to move the loaded trailer back outside of the fence and build a new fence around the whole area to keep nosey noses out of the way.  Then, with the help of the Farm Hand, spread the mulch over the fabric.

Once the fabric and mulch were down, I planted the willows.  I put them about 30 inches apart because I want a dense growth.  They are just little brown twigs and are invisible in the photos but they are there.  Unfortunately, I got them planted just in time for a Spring drought and record breaking heat.  I have no way of getting water to any of the trees I planted this Spring and many of them have clearly suffered for the two weeks of dry, hot weather we had.  We finally did get some rain and things have certainly greened up, but it is too early to tell (I hope) if the willows are going to make it.  They don't look so good at the moment.  Although I do have a nice pathway to Oz.  Or maybe a runway for stray butterflies?

I've done the best I can and I have found that any tree I plant up here on this inhospitable hill either makes it on its own or not at all.  Anything that needs a lot of TLC won't survive its first winter anyway so I no longer try. They have to be tough enough to make it on their own.  I manage after all so I gave them a lecture about self reliance and have left them to it.

I have several of these willows growing up here that got planted inadvertently as little bits of shrub that came home on my horse's feet.  Of course, those are growing in the worst possible places and I need to dig them out.  Hopefully, the ones I actually intended to plant will be just as tough.

As long as I can keep the livestock away from them, I like to think they have a chance.  I'll post updates now and then.


  1. It's nice how your animals all want to help with the farm projects. I am waiting to see how the willow hedge turns out!

  2. We've considered something like this too, but some sort of windbreaks in between a couple of pastures.
    Keep us updated. I see Farm Hand is a good supervisor also.

  3. If any doctor ever tells you that you need to get more exercise, just smack him up beside the head.

  4. funny how the 'dragged in on hooves' ones prosper and the others will barely make it...

  5. We'll hope you have some rain to keep the willows going. Your crew eating the old rotting hay reminded me of my sister's dogs that love to roll in dead stuff. Ewwwww!

  6. Gosh, I'm tired just hearing about all the work you put into that hedgerow! I hope ever single one makes it.

  7. Another great hedge/windbreak/shelter belt is Caraghana [Siberian Pea Shrub]they are tough, weather drought and seem to love rain as well...they also tolerate cold very well.. That row is beautiful!

  8. I wonder if moldy hay is a special treat... kind of like blue cheese for humans??

  9. oh I do hope they make it! What a lot of admirable work.