by Delbert Trew
I realized that in my 72 years of existence I have traveled a full
circle on the subject of trees. The area south of Perryton
where I was raised had no trees. I was not alone as before my time
settlers had to burn buffalo chips because there was little firewood.
Eastern Kansas is famous for its limestone rock fence posts because
there were no trees for posts. Dugouts were the normal prairie housing
as there were no trees to saw into lumber for frame homes.
I would imagine every early settler wished for and vowed to plant
trees as soon as he could afford the money and time. My parents waited
until the rains started after the Dust Bowl and planted a shelter
belt north of our home plus other shade trees in our yard. Government
employees planted thousands of trees in shelter belts throughout the
Great Plains region during the Great Depression. As a result, the
plains area now has a lot of trees.
When we bought the ranch here at Alanreed,
only two small cottonwood trees were growing in the yard. No brush
and few mesquite were in sight in any direction. We planted 100 sizable
elm trees dug at a nursery at Shattuck, Okla. They were bare-rooted
in the wintertime and set out into a shelter belt and in the yards
around the houses.
I hauled water with a truck-mounted water tank. The water was pumped
from an earthen dam by a pump driven by a Model A Ford transmission
turned backward and powered by a Ferguson tractor. I don't think we
lost a single tree planted.
Down through the years following, Mother added more trees including
red cedar and fruit trees. The birds brought in hackberry seed and
mesquite slowly began to appear as small bushes. Historians say the
mesquite beans were brought by the trail herds coming up from South
Texas in the past. They deposited the beans along with adequate
fertilizer and Mother Nature took care of the rest. I don't quite
believe this as I think the cattle would have emptied out many times
along their 300-mile journey from the nearest mesquite at the time.
I believe the beans were scattered by deer, coyotes and migrating
birds. Whatever, we have a lot of mesquite growing here now.
I have always loved and appreciated trees of any species. I like their
appearance and the shade along with protection from the wind and other
weather elements. The only time I dislike trees is after an ice or
wind storm when it's time to prune and pick up broken limbs and twigs.
Today, our once-bare ranch headquarters is almost totally hidden by
trees. We have great shade helping keep the summer temperatures down
and the cold north winds at bay. I have come full circle from planting
trees annually to spending a lot of time trimming and spraying mesquite
brush growing out on the range. It is a hot, hard and expensive job.
My father loved trees but often quoted his "eleventh" commandment:
"There shall be no limbs growing low enough to knock off thy hat."
© Delbert Trew
"It's All Trew" Column
- June 13, 2006
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