April 5, 2008

A day in the life of my oak trees

Posted in blogging, photography, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , at 8:38 pm by czygyny

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Quercus lobata. One of the largest species of deciduous trees in California. Known as Valley Oak, California White Oak, or even Swamp Oak, this tree can get 70′ tall. 

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One of ours is very old, rumored to be in an oak registry somewhere. We call her ‘Grandmother Tree’, the other three are somewhat younger, with a smaller diameter trunks, although one is even taller than the ‘Grandmother’. You can tell that she’s lost some whopping big branches over the years.

 

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I love looking up into the trees, their thick, sinuous branches are heavily furrowed and textured, and adorned with moss on the prerequisite north side.

 

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Here, above, is ‘Grandmother Tree’ with Bear Mountain and some of my sheep in a pastoral evening setting.

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This tree, above, is a tall, skinny oak that had to compete with 300 eucalyptus trees around it, so it put all its effort into standing tall. It makes a good frame for a lovely sunset.

These trees are very special to enjoy. There are so many bird species that live and nest here; House finch, American goldfinch, Acorn woodpecker, Hairy woodpecker, Downy woodpecker, Lewis’ woodpecker, White-breasted nuthatch, Orioles, Western kingbird, Red-shouldered hawk, Yellow-billed magpie, Brewer’s blackbird, Black and Say’s phoebe, White-crowned, Golden-crowned and Song sparrow, various warblers, and those nasty Starlings. Great-horned and Screech owls visit, too.

The downside to living underneath these silent giants is their pesky habit of shedding very large limbs, on occasion. They are just as likely to drop them in the summer as in winter, and we have had some close calls with the barn and house. As well, is the constant leaf and twig litter, and in a good year, acorns are dropped so thick that walking on them is much like walking on ball bearings.

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This tree, above,  was the least healthy of the four. Years ago, someone built up a driveway to get to the barn and covered the trunk of this tree about 3 to 4 feet deep. This is a death sentence for such majestic trees. It had already begun to die back when we moved in, so we excavated the soil around the base and built up a dry well with discarded concrete pieces.

The experiment was a success, and even provided a bit of flood control, as you can see. The rain soaked in quickly and left the flare of the trunk open to the air and slowly the tree has regained its health.

I am so pleased to be a steward to such fine trees. Such richness of local wildlife, picturesque modeling and darned good shade in the summer!

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