Since this is the Sunday before Thanksgiving, I am going to write about things I am thankful for. No surprise, I’m sure, that I would go with the thankfulness theme, but what I’m thankful for may be surprising.
I am thankful for a weapon of mass destruction.
My weapon of mass destruction is a skid steer. A skid steer is a piece of heavy equipment that has a plethora of attachments you can quickly change out for different job applications. Say I want to unload a large round bale of hay from the trailer and set it out for the cows. I can put the forks on the front and handily perform the task. The skid steer has many more uses, a few of which I will share with you. Most are to build and repair things, but one of its most useful applications on our place is as a means of destruction.
We lived in a mobile home for a few years here and then built an apartment in our metal barn. It was situated in a caliche pit. Caliche is well known in our area. It is a whitish gray, sticky, crumbly claylike deposit, full of rocks and marine fossils that we have in abundance as ‘soil’. People like to dig it and use for road base. A former owner had dug out an area and this made a nice pad site for our barn to be built upon. At the time, we had no plans for living in it, so who cares that it was on hard packed caliche? We were thankful for a nice building pad and did not have to bring in more material.
After a visit to a friend’s new home, and sitting in her backyard with grass, pool, plants and flowers, I decided I needed a yard. I was no longer thankful for a caliche yard. So I put the bucket on the front of the skid steer and started hauling good soil from our lower pastures and created a front yard. We built a pergola and over the years, I put in raised beds where I planted shrubs, flowers, and vegetables. I also built a small pool and fountain with rocks from our place using the skid steer to place the heavy rocks. I am thankful for this nice place to sit, though I seldom take advantage of it. If I am out there, it is usually to water, plant, prune, or some other work. But I enjoy knowing it is there.
Other attachments in our stable are: post hole drill, post driver, grapple bucket, rock rake, and one other attachment I don’t know what it is called. If money were no object, it could become an addiction buying each new handy attachment as they are trotted out. The one I covet most is the forestry tree mulcher. We have many cedar trees that are invasive and we have an ongoing battle against them, keeping the trees from overtaking our place. The attachment chews the tree into mulch and leaves behind a nice seed bed.
Unfortunately, the mulcher is very expensive and out of our budget. But, I am not without a weapon in my arsenal—the unnamed attachment. It is like a bucket, but smaller and comes to a V at the tip with three ‘teeth’ sticking out. With some practice, you can take those teeth and dipping slightly under a cedar tree’s root ball, fork it and then pop it out of the ground, roots and all.
It is very satisfying, quite addicting and hard to stop once I get in my ‘flow’. I start out thinking about what I am doing and how deep to aim, when to pop the tip up and so forth. But after a few hours, it is like driving down the highway listening to your favorite tunes. You arrive at your destination, but you don’t remember how you got there. I go from conscious thought, to automatic feel, no longer processing information. It is like having a sixth sense guiding me in destroying the invaders. Afterwards, I pile the trees and burn the piles when burn ban allows. We are left with clear pastures where grass, forbs and wildflowers can grow. You can see where a tree mulcher would be superior to this method. But I am thankful that I do have this way to combat the encroachment of cedars.
Despite their conquistador nature, I am thankful for the cedar trees. I like that many of our fence lines are solid, impenetrable lines of old growth trees. They are tall and fat and with their branches intertwined like kids playing Red Rover in the school yard, they challenge any livestock to pass between them. We don’t have to worry about cattle getting through those fences.
I like that we have green trees in the winter to break up the monotonous brown landscape. The cedars have a great scent. They produce berries that feed wildlife. My goats like to eat the leaf tips and berries. I like the taste of the fat juicy ones. I don’t actually eat them, just chew and suck the juice out. (Don’t go out and eat cedar berries because I do. Read and do your own research before deciding to eat any plants) Cedars have medicinal, culinary, and other beneficial properties. I recently made a tincture with apple cider vinegar with the berries and leaflets and infused cedar berry oil. I love the mild piney scent!
Unfortunately, I am very allergic to their pollen. They pollinate in October, and especially in January on those beautiful sunny, mild days when I like to be outdoors. These trees don’t just stand by passively and wait for bees or some other pollinator to come by and lend a hand. They puff it out like an old man puffing a pipe! The trees can look like they are on fire with smoke billowing from them.
On windy days, which is pretty much every day at this time, the whole atmosphere is full of their pollen.
On these days, I limit my time outdoors and take precautions when I do go out. I am thankful for what I have learned to improve my health through diet, which in turn has lessened the effect the pollen has on me now. I have also learned things to do and take that helps. On the worst days, I will cover my hair, wear goggles, and a bandana or mask over my mouth and nose when spending time outside. When I come indoors, I change clothes if I did not have outerwear covering my clothes. My goal is to keep pollen outside and ‘detox’ upon reentry to my home. I brush my hair outdoors if it was not covered and always brush it with a damp brush over the sink before bed. I will wash my hair if it was exposed during the day. Never go to bed with pollen on your hair. It will get on your pillow and then be all over your face by morning!
Next, I use a homeopathic eye wash for allergies. I use homeopathic remedies before exposure and if I feel allergy symptoms beginning after exposure. I keep a tube of one remedy in my pocket in case I start feeling symptoms coming on while outdoors. Using a saline spray or neti pot to rinse my sinuses has been helpful to wash the pollen out. All these steps have greatly reduced my allergy reactions. I am thankful that I no longer experience nights of sitting up in the recliner, tissues stuffed up both nostrils to stop the flow while at the same time, so congested I had to breathe through my mouth.
Despite their barbaric invasions and blowing their smoke-like pollen into my eyes, I am thankful for their beauty and usefulness. On cold, blustery winter days, I can always find a place on the lee side of the trees in the sunshine and enjoy time outdoors. In the summer, I get on the shady side. The wood makes wonderful scented campfires (and closets!). Beautiful furniture is made from their wood and cedar fence posts seem to last forever, never rotting. The trees are great for erosion control. The have also contributed to half of the name of our place.
So despite all the negatives, I am thankful that I have come to see qualities of the cedar trees for which I can be thankful. The ability to see good in a situation, despite the bad, to me is something in itself to be thankful for. It is a useful weapon of mass destruction–uprooting negativity and allowing space for flowers of joy and hope to grow. And that is worth more than a forestry tree mulcher.
Scroll to the bottom for battle pictures. *WARNING* there are graphic photos of war casualties.
Here are some things I use that have been helpful. Check out these items through my Amazon affiliate links:
Reusable, washable face mask. Haven’t used it, but it sure looks better than a bandana! Click here.
I am in the process of reading the Elimination Diet book. It is the diet that my son and I did to find out which foods our body was having immune responses to. When I cut these out, my environmental allergies improved. Click here.
For fellow skid steer attachment addicts–can you believe that Amazon sells the attachments?! Click here to check it out.
Cedars are really Junipers. Cedar is their covert code name. Learn more here:
Want to try some cedar products?
Now for some more photos:
Oak trees freed from cedar suffocation
Oak tree aka Hawk Skull Tree freed from cedar conquest.
You can see their remains in piles behind the tree.
The slain corpses…
Trees yet to be destroyed in the background.
Open ground and cedar carcasses in the foreground.
Another about to go down…
Now a patch of grass or wildflowers can grow.
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