After dinner tonight I took our Coleman camp lantern, a rake, a propane torch, gloves and a can of pop down to the south end of the windbreak. My goal was to burn all the accumulated branches and limbs from the drainage ditch at the east end of the fence row. It had been raining earlier in the day so the wood was good and wet.
On my way I startled two Cooper's hawks, one right after the other. They must have been out hunting for supper when my lantern spooked them. A few hours later a trio of Screech Owls discussed the evening hunt with each other. One sat in the orchard on an apple tree, the second was in Helle's woods and the third (oh joy!) had to be less than 30 feet from me. They whinnied and trilled to each other and the one in the apple orchard seemed especially excited about something or other. The one near me would answer with a loud descending whinnie. It's always a thrill to get to listen to them call to each other. I can only wonder what they must be saying! Listen!
After several attempts at getting a hot fire going I finally got fed up and did it right. Then it really took off and we were finally getting somewhere! You see, our cousin's boys had been allowed to play in our fence row and had cut trees willy-nilly to make "forts" which never came full circle but left quite a mess behind. Tonight I burned their attempt at a fort along with all the cut limbs they mutilated next to a snag that I'm leaving standing for the cavity nesters that might want to use it next spring.
The boys will not be allowed to hack up the trees in our fence row anymore, needless to say. I believe trees serve a purpose and entertaining young boys is not one of them. I have plans to naturalize the east end of the fence row to start with and will gradually work my way throughout the whole thing as time and money permit. I'm going to be planting 5 Dawn Redwoods there this spring along with 4 Forsythias and 2 Red Maples. I want to fill the end in with lush growth to block the view of my uncle's barn and silos at the other end of the road. When I was growing up you could never see through the fence row but now you can. Time to get in there and clean up the mess to make room for new growth. I plan to plant several varieties of shrubs as well to fill in the lower growth areas near the trees. I might also try to grow some native wildflowers for natural ground cover. I've always thought some foxgloves would look just lovely growing amongst the shrubs and trees.
The soil is good there so I could plant just about anything I wanted as long as it doesn't have to have full sun to thrive. And now that I can actually get in there I can start to prune out what I don't want and keep what I like. There are some nice Red Osier Dogwoods there and I like to have them as understory plants. I might take some of the neighbors' Jack In The Pulpits and transplant them to our fence row this spring. I'd like some at the house too.
So much to plan and think about and I'm enjoying it very much. I've never had such a large area to work with before so this is a real treat. And it's an ongoing gardening experience that won't ever end. The joy for me is planning it out then making it come to life. How very rewarding!