Sunday, August 19, 2012

Pine Trees and Drought

Driving in the sand country of central Wisconsin, where there is no irrigation available, you quickly see the havoc created by this summer’s heat and drought.  Cornfields are dead and dying—some already have been plowed down with the crop declared a complete failure.  Other cornfields are stunted with dead leaves and no ears.  The soybean crop is not much better. Nor is the late cutting of hay.

But overlooked by many is what the drought has done to those of us who are tree farmers.  About five years ago we planted seven-thousand red pine trees on our farm.  They were doing well, many of them already three and four feet tall.  But this year trees that were planted on sandy, gravely hilltops have died. Once green needles are now a sickly, reddish brown.  Entire hillsides of dead and dying trees.  Not a pleasant sight.

It’s not just the relatively young trees that are dying.  Yesterday, on our farm, I spotted a twenty-foot jack pine, the toughest of tough native trees that had died.  And not far away, a Scotch pine, about six feet tall—dead.

I decided at the very beginning of my tree farming operation in the middle 1960s that I would grow pulp wood, logs for log cabins, and saw logs for lumber.  No Christmas trees. Driving past a Christmas tree farm north of Montello, I spotted an entire hillside of once beautiful Christmas trees, all dead.  The entire hillside of trees killed by the drought—and a great loss to the grower, I’m sure.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Let’s hope next year will be better.

CHECK THIS OUT:  You can preorder my new novel, THE TAMARACK RIVER GHOST (fifth in my Ames County Series) from  See press kit at this link for information about the book:


August 25, 11:00 Mt. Morris Camp and Conference Center.  Mt. Morris, WI. Barns of Wisconsin.

September 7-8, Southwest Wisconsin Prairie Festival, Folklore Village, 3210 Co. Hwy. BB, Dodgeville, WI. Keynote, Saturday, Sept. 8, 1:00 p.m. “People and the Prairie.”

September 15, 1-4 p.m. Old World Wisconsin, Eagle, WI.  Book Signing.

September 18, 10:30-11:30 WAHCE Conference, Marriott Hotel, Middleton, WI Keynote.

September 22, 2:00 Wade House Historic Site, Greenbush, WI. Garden Wisdom.

September 24, 11:30, Learning in Retirement, Oshkosh. Stories From the Land.

September 29, Stonefield Village, Cassville, WI.  Horse Drawn Days.

October 4-6 Midwest Booksellers, Minneapolis. Book Signing.

October 13, 9-4.  The Clearing.  Writing Workshop: Writing From Your Life. (Still some openings. Go to for information.  Click on workshops.)

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