Ice Storm 2021 Update

Last time I checked in we were in the middle of probably one of the worst storms Oregon has seen since the Columbus Day Story in 1962. I wasn’t around to experience that one, but after chatting with some folks who were, the thoughts are similar; 2021 has been worse. And when talking to lineman storm crews they say the same, “This has been some of the worst damage we have ever seen.”

That being said, we are all grateful to so many who turned on our power, who offered to help when we needed it, and also grateful to see the storm become a part of the past to talk about. But now the real work begins; time to clean up.

We finally got out and assessed the damage around our farm. We have a lot of clean up on the borders of our fields where trees and branches lay on top of our crops. That will take some time. Our first priority however was to get into our orchards and see how they fared. We didn’t get hit as hard as other farmers. Some have talked about tree losses upwards of 20% even as high as 50%. This is devastating to hear. We are not that bad in our orchards thank goodness.

In assessing the damage we have found that just about each tree has to be treated differently. Some we have cut down to the trunk and will loose some years of production, but will keep the tree in the ground.

Others we just had to trim up some branches. A few we cut the branch that split the tree and if it didn’t cut into the main truck too badly we kept for a year’s worth of production before we decide if we are going to take it out later.

And some just didn’t make it and got cut right then and there. Many of those we will replant this spring to get them up and going.

Driving around to each broken and ice pruned tree was a pretty depressing job. These are trees that we have taken care of for years. Some just started to produce a crop for us, and now we had to cut them down and set them back another 4 years. The cost of this event will be felt for a long time in the form of a huge labor bill to do clean up, lost production, and now caring for newly planted trees among our established orchards.

Many of these orchards had been gone through already this winter and been pruned, so the double amount of work to go back in prune, stack and push brush for the second time will take a lot of time and money. We try to be very efficient on our farm, and Mother Nature basically made sure that this year would not look like that on our orchard budgets.

Right now I’m just happy that we have power, the sun has been out for a few days, and we are moving along with clean up. The orchards are looking less tattered by the day, and it will be a good day when the “Ice Storm of 2021” is in our hindsight completely. Hope everyone is staying safe out there, and hopefully not far from getting their power turned back on soon!

Tractor’s Farewell

As our Cat 45 headed down the road and we said farewell
I took a deep breath and reminded myself it was just time to sell.

She’s worked our dirt for 22 years, at least 10 times over
Getting fields ready for grass seed, green beans, wheat and clover.

She’s hooked up to many harrows, plows and disks
Even in tough conditions she always pulled, taking all the risks.

A few years back we dressed her up a bit and gave her auto-steer
But at the end of the day even that couldn’t justify keeping her here.

She’s broke down, been cussed and kicked more than a time or two
But she still got washed up to be put away for winter, cuz that’s just what we do.

A new hydraulic pump to end her last season on our farm
Her last winter getting parked inside our barn.

It’s funny this feeling of being attached to a machine
But these pieces of equipment have always been a part of my dream.

For those of us who measure memories in acres in the heat of the summer;
You know these treasured moments between just a tractor and just a farmer.

Memories of kids sitting next to you learning all the ropes.
Knowing for a fact that having them want to sit there gives our legacy a little hope.

It was our last rolling stock with big tracks and my grandpa will probably roll over in his grave.
Except that little D2 parked in the lean too there, I’m afraid that one we are gonna to have to save.

I may have had a tear as the kids said goodbye and wished her adieu
See you down the road old friend, I hope your new farmer takes good care of you.

Obligatory family photo.
My brother Kyle and cousin when we first brought her home.

I also posted a video of me reading this poem. You can find it on the NuttyGrass Facebook page or by clicking here for a direct link.

Removing Older Hazelnut Trees

I wrote last week about how we planted some new trees to replace some of our oldest orchards. Feel free to catch up by reading….“Replacing Older Hazelnut Trees”.

This week I thought I would show you how we are actually doing that work of tree removal. As farmers we often have a lot of equipment, but we don’t always have the “right equipment” for every job. So what we have in the barn often times changes how we go about a project.

For our farm we have our excavator, bulldozer, and a very hot fire. With these tools we completed this job pretty much done in a few days. I say “pretty much” because the weather turned on us mid-project and we had to take a break to let things dry out a bit.

Here are the very complicated, very long steps of tree removal…
Step 1: Knock the trees over with the bulldozer.
Step 2: Start a very hot fire.
Step 3: Drag the trees to the burn pile.
Step 4: Put the tree on the very hot fire with the excavator.
….and voila!

As you can see the process actually really is very simple. Our goal here is to try to touch the tree as little as possible, because every time we do it costs us money in efficiency loss.

Now if you want to start an actual controversial orchard conversation we can chat about variety to plant, how or when to thin double density plantings, how to prune, or what spacing to plant. But you better have a comfy seat, and a lot of coffee or a lot of beer, because those discussions will take awhile!