The Advantage of Neglect

Letting nature take its course.

Last year I took advantage of a state program called Tennessee Tree Day. This program provides the opportunity to purchase native saplings at very low prices. We have a goal of adding tress to our current pastures and this seemed the perfect fit for our goals.

We picked up the saplings at our local extension office. Planted them the next day. Mulched around the base with wood chips and provided protection from wildlife with some t-posts and welded wire around each sapling.

These trees did not thrive. Mind you, I did not water them weekly as suggested. I relied on the mulch and rain to be enough. All that remains of last year’s efforts are sad little sticks that may or may not still be alive.


Fast forward one year.

Saturday. The day for larger projects. And a Saturday in winter when you have time to catch up on things that have fallen off the plate.

Today we decided to bush hog the upper field. We hope to use this field as pasture in the future, but right now it is mostly brambles and broomsedge. With spring coming and grasses just starting to grow, we have got to mow down the brambles and sedge so the sunlight can get to the grass. Giving the grass an advantage, a leg up in the fight for sunlight and nutrients.

This is the first time we have worked this field since owning the farm. We have neglected it until today. We just didn’t have time.

But we have been watching it. Observing. Noticing that among the sedge and bramble there are saplings.

Oak. Pine. Hickory.

These trees planted themselves. We had left the field untouched. The saplings thrived in our neglect.

So, instead of mindlessly bush hogging the entire over-grown field we carefully walked through it looking for baby trees. We cleared the area around the ones we wanted to keep. Then Mr. J bush hogged the field avoiding our baby trees.


Why trees in a pasture?

The trees provide shade for our livestock, food in the form of acorns and hickory nuts, habitat for birds, and potential lumber in generations to come.

Why not?

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