Gas Pains

Tom grew up in Milwaukee, bartended in Wauwatosa in the '70s and moved here in 1984.

Commentary, observations and musings about the outdoors, life in general and maybe Tosa politics and personalities will be the order of the day. He savors a lively debate as much as terrific cooking.

Living The High Life

Forestry, Life Is Good, Outdoors, Refreshing Adult Beverage

Fresh air and exercise - at 26 degrees.

Sounds good, eh?

It was.  Really.

I spent part of my weekend working outdoors.  Pruning oak and walnut trees.  My wife too.

We layered-up, loaded-up a second-hand plastic child's sled with tools, Gatorade, water and snacks, strapped-on the snow shoes and headed out with Girlfriend.

We hiked a quarter mile or so - dragging the plastic sled - and commenced the task at hand.

An arborist might tell you that the best time to prune is when the tool is sharp.  Late winter is the best time for corrective pruning.  The trees are dormant and the opportunity for disease transmission is reduced.  It is also a good time to be on the lookout for signs of gypsy moth - the scourge of young oaks.  We pack a couple of spray bottles filled with ordinary, cheap cooking oil.  If a gypsy moth egg mass is spied it is promptly given a suffocating soaking of oil.  A couple of squirts and hundreds of potential leaf-munching larvae are nuked. 

Serves them right.  Try it yourself.  It is very satisfying.  And no toxic pesticides are involved.

As for pruning, my wife does the east side of the plantation - I always get the west.  Walking up one row and down another.  Eye-balling each ten-year-old hardwood looking for an errant branch or a defect that needs correction.  We skip the ash.  They're doomed anyway.  Eventual death by ash borer you know.

For comparison take a look at your city tree at the edge of the street sometime. See all of those crotches and branches?  They're pruned to be aesthetically pleasing but are of no use to anyone looking for a decent saw board or quality veneer.

If you are farming trees the desired result is nothing less than a tall, straight trunk.  With a minimum of knots.  Unless you're growing something to be reduced to pulp bolts which will be made into toilet paper.

We have this on-going bet as to whose trees will command the highest price.  Mine of the west side or her's on the east side.  Time will tell.

The dog has been tearing it up pretty good too.  I think our lab likes snow almost more than water.  I have to find a way to harness all of that energy.  Maybe bottle it and sell it.  No, wait. Harness her to the sled.  That way when we have to haul a chainsaw, gas and bar oil along with the tools the dog could contribute meaningfully to the effort. 

Add it to the list.

I am convinced that spending time out-of-doors in the bracing winter air and bright sunshine is therapeutic.  It is cleansing.  I don't have to think of  the meltdown of the financial markets.  I don't have to ponder the nationalization of a bank or two. Or the tedious blathering from the radical right or the sheep-like bleating from the loony left.  Or the end of times.  Seems that other than what I'm cooking for dinner the most critical decision I'll make is which branch to cut.

Anyway, after several miles of shoeing, lopping and sawing it's quitting time and back to home.

I pop a few ibuprofen (the latest drug of choice for my generation) and wash 'em down with a refreshing Marzen.

Served in my official Tosa Police Department pint glass...


I'll bet you  didn't know the Department had their own line of bar ware.

Life is good.

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