This fall we decided it was time to add some shade trees to the pasture. The goat and sheep rarely venture out into their expansive banquet, and I don’t really blame them because with no shade it gets pretty hot. My more experienced farm friend suggested that I don’t need to be feeding them hay and store-bought feed every day, year-round. If they were hungrier, perhaps they would be out in the pasture munching more often.
Today, though, we got started on our shade tree plan. We have ordered three good-sized Black Gum trees to be delivered and planted for us because they would be too much for us to handle on our own. We wandered the pasture with stakes to gauge the best placement for the trees. The tractor needs to be able to squeeze by them to mow, and the nursery said they should be at least 20 feet apart. We thought through where the shade would be the most useful, at which time of day. I imagined the herd lying together in a lazy clump between the three trees one day, and I’d want to be able to see that from the windows in the house.
Next, we planted a little grove of home-grown seedlings in the back corner of the pasture. They will take years to grow to any useful height, but I still wanted to give it a try. The catalpa tree I’d dug up last month did not survive after I cut the tap root, but I still came up with three little tulip poplars, a small catalpa and a sweet little maple that had sprouted by the barn. We then strung some temporary electric fence wire across the corner so the goat wouldn’t decide to eat the trees.
The crew came out to see what was going on and I was pleased that they all took one look at the stakes and wires understood that it wasn’t worth a snap on the nose to investigate any further.