Archive for environmentally friendly

Zip Line Canopy Tour Opens June 14, 2013

Attention thrill seekers:

kerfoot2

Beginning June 14, 2013, you can enjoy the thrill of a two and a half hour long tour, complete with high-speed zip lines, a 170-foot suspension bridge, spiral staircases to treetop platforms, breathless views of the Minnesota River Valley and loads of environmental knowledge from trained guides at  Kerfoot Canopy Tours in Henderson, MN.

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Kerfoot Canopy Tour’s, Minnesota River Valley zip line course is owned by Lee Kerfoot, who grew up on the Gunflint Trail learning how to appreciate the woods-life from his grandma, Justine Kerfoot, a Northwoods pioneer. He watched as she utilized her passion, smarts, strength and determination living on the border of the Boundary Waters operating the Gunflint Lodge. Justine’s appreciation of the Minnesota’s woods and waters has inspired Lee all his life, and his new canopy tour is a true homage to his passion for being outdoors in beautiful Minnesota.

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For more information and reservations visit http://www.kerfootcanopytour.com/ or follow Kerfoot Canopy Tours on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/kerfootcanopytour.

 

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From Tree, to Timbers, to Fine Furniture

Have a seat and I’ll tell you a story.

Have A Seat

Have A Seat Walnut Bench By Greg Wood

A customer of mine had a tree which needed to be removed from their yard.  It was a Walnut tree, approximately 24 inches in diameter.  The tree was cut down, sawed in to 2.5 inch thick timber slabs, and then air-dried for three years until the moisture level was below ten percent.

Walnut Lumber Slabs

Walnut Lumber Slabs

The customer called me, with ideas of some furniture they would like to have built from their lumber.  They wanted a bench, two end tables, a desk and a head-board.

Bench design

Bench design

I drew up design plans to represent the client’s personal tastes and desires while simultaneously planning how to best utilize the slabs .  After the plans were finalized, I use chalk to layout the lumber with respect to the grain figure.

Slabs with chalked layout

Slabs with chalked layout

Timber slab plan for bench back

Timber slab plan for bench back

Time to execute the plan.

The very beginning

The very beginning

The beginning stages of the bench and the tables.

Boards glued up for table tops

Boards glued up for table tops

Boards cut in to shape

Boards cut in to shape

All clamped up

All clamped up

And viola, two end tables built from a tree in the yard,

and a bench with contour shaped back.

Walnut bench with contour shaping on the back

Walnut bench with contour shaping on the back

Now on to the desk and head-board.  From tree to timbers to fine furniture.

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The Groundhog Was So Wrong

Spring officially arrived this week, just as Minnesotans were bundling up in their winter coats to brave the near-zero temperatures once again.  This has been the coldest start to spring since 1965.

It was 1971 since the last time that Minnesota had this much snow on the ground so late in the winter.

White Spruce covered with snow

White Spruce covered with snow

I can barely remember what lies just beneath this same snow ~

Echinacea 'Now Cheesier'

Echinacea ‘Now Cheesier’

Perennials; our reward for patience.

Echinacea 'Tomato Soup'

Echinacea ‘Tomato Soup’

“A man who is a master of patience is master of everything else.” ~ George Savile

Gaillardia 'Blanket Flower'

Gaillardia ‘Blanket Flower’

Welcome spring 2013!  You are so worth the wait!

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Bed and Breakfast on the Farm

A double garage with a space above was a likely spot for a Guest House.

Dutch Lake Guest House Bed and Breakfast

The front (lake side) of the guest house.

The guest house is licensed as a Bed and Breakfast.

Front picture windows at the guest house.

Front picture windows at the guest house with shade sail sun protection.

Guests park behind the garage and stroll a wood plank path, past espaliered apple trees and a perennial garden, to the entrance stairs.

Wood plank walkway entrance.

Wood plank walkway entrance.

The guest house offers a private entrance,

The private entrance.

The private entrance.

living room,

Living room

Living room

dinette,

Dinette

Dinette

kitchenette,

Kitchenette

Kitchenette with a stocked refrigerator, microwave and coffee maker.

and then on the way to a queen size bedroom.

Bedroom entrance

Bedroom entrance

Queen size bedroom

Queen size bedroom

and a full bathroom.

Full bathroom

Full bathroom

The guest house views overlook the lake.

View from the guest house

View from the guest house

And breakfast is served in the screen porch overlooking the lake.

Breakfast served on the screened porch

Breakfast served on the screened porch

We’d love to host your stay at the Dutch Lake Guest House Bed and Breakfast!

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Planting Christmas Trees on the Farm

One of our favorite times of the year at the Dutch Lake Farm is Christmas season.  Every year on Thanksgiving weekend we open the farm to families in search of a Christmas tree, to cut their own tree.  We  offer free hay wagon rides out to the tree fields to select and cut their fresh tree, then enjoy a free cup of cocoa with all the fixings at the cocoa bar!

For every tree that is harvested we replant five.  This year we’re planting 500 Balsam Fir.

The small seedlings were first planted in to 2 gallon pots  two years ago.  We keep the young trees in pots for two years so they are easier to weed and water.

Seedlings are started in 2 gallon pots.

Seedlings are started in 2 gallon pots.

The most import step in planting is to layout the planting grid.  We carefully measure the field, marking each spot where a tree will be planted.   We use a 100′ rope, marked every 10′ indicating the spacing.

Rope used to layout tree spacing.

Rope used to layout tree spacing.

We use spray paint at every 10′ marking so the post hole digger will be easily placed in the correct location.  I’m sure there is some way more sophisticated, techy way the larger tree farms do this, probably using GPS or some such technology, but ‘the rope’ has served us well over the last ten years.

Spray paint indicating the 10' spacing.

Spray paint indicating the 10′ spacing.

Once the field is marked we use a John Deere 3010 tractor with a 3 point hitch, power takeoff post hole digger with a 12″ auger to drill the holes as indicated on the grid.  Be careful!

There’s only one thing that feels better than planting a tree; and that’s planting five hundred!

Newly planted two year old Balsam Fir

Newly planted two-year old Balsam Fir

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Espalier Apple Tree Fence

Mature espalier apple tree fence

Mature espalier apple tree fence

Espalier is the art of training trees, very often fruit trees, to grow on a flat plane. This technique not only creates an interesting plant structure – a ‘living sculpture’, but also is useful as a space saver for small space gardens.   Trees trained in the espalier technique are trained against a flat wall, building, or against a free-standing structure.

I’ve long been fascinated by lovely photographs of espaliered trees in beautiful garden settings, which prompted me to do some reading and sit in on a seminar where I took copious notes.  It is from this research that I gather my information to share with you.

I’ve chosen an espalier project in an effort to create a ‘living fence’ for along a wood plank sidewalk which leads up to the entrance of my bed and breakfast/guest house.  The walkway was wide open to the driveway, yard, and the harsh winter winds, so it was in want of being a bit cozier.

Plank sidewalk with post structure

Plank sidewalk with post structure

I’ll need to build a structure to support my trees rather than utilizing a wall for support, but for blogging purposes, the technique of espalier is the same no matter the structure you select.  I chose apple trees as my plant material for the benefits of spring flowers, summer foliage and fall fruit that will dangle from the structure like ornaments, beckoning my guests to help themselves! During the winter months I’ll utilize the structure for stringing white mini lights.

Apple trees lend themselves well to many espalier forms.  The pattern I’ve chosen is a horizontal tiered cordon method, therefore the structure I’ve built is specific to the horizontal pattern as seen in figure a.

When planting the trees, orient the branching along the cables where they will be secured during the pruning process.

Lower cordon of the espalier apple trees

Lower cordon of the espalier apple trees

The art of espalier is based upon the complex relationship between auxin and cytokinins, two growth hormones in plants.  Auxins have a cardinal role in coordination of many growth processes and are essential for plant body development.  Cytokinins promote cell division in plant roots and shoots.  Pruning changes the relationship between auxin and cytokinin. When a leader branch is growing straight up, auxin levels are at a higher rate and growth is more vertical.  The more you angle a branch, the greater you are changing the relationship of auxin to cytokinin, and there becomes less vertical growth, but more horizontal branching and more fruiting.  This is the reason for pinching back perennials and annuals, and is witnessed when you bend a rose bush on a hoop as a result there are more prolific blooms.

My young trees were supple and with good lateral branching, therefore I capitalized on that attribute and merely secured the lower branches to my first tier wire cable, using soft vinyl stretch tie.  I pruned subsequent buds and branching from the trunk moving up to the next set of branches at the second tier of cable structure, securing the supple branches in a similar manner.  Had the branches been woodier, I would have slowly moved the branching down to position, creating a temporary structure to ease the branches down in to place at the cable wire.

Espalier tree with two horizontal cordon tiers

Espalier tree with two horizontal cordon tiers

As you’re training your apple tree, keep the small shoots along the cordon trimmed back to 4” to 5” long.  Your tree will continue to grow and mature, and every flower will become a fruiting bud.  Eventually your fruit tree will become its own support structure.  In general, espaliered trees’ fruit will be larger and sweeter, because their fruit is exposed to more sunlight and the trees have been pruned regularly to keep their shape.

Three espalier apple trees after one month growth

Three espalier apple trees after one month growth

The three espalier apple trees have been growing for about one month.  They are all healthy and filling in nicely with leaves and new growth.  I have pruned off any new budding branches that have sprouted from the main stem, in order to keep all of the growth directed on the two lower lateral cordons that I’ve secured to the horizontal cables.

I had selected two buds to become the third cordons which will become next year’s growth along the third cable on the structure.  These young branches are growing out nicely.   Depending upon the rate of growth, I may secure these branches to the third cable later this summer.  You can see the upper new branching in the photo below.

Selecting new growth for the next cordon

Selecting new growth for the next cordon

An espalier tree is never ‘finished’.  They require pruning at least three times each season in order to maintain the beautiful structured shape; I recommend June 1, July 1 and August 1.  This particular walk way enclosure will require two more years of growth to reach the uppermost, fourth horizontal cable.  Then after wards, it will just be ‘maintenance’ pruning.

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Eradicating Buckthorn

Purging Buckthorn Rhamnus cathartica

Image via Wikipedia

Clearing brush and eradicating the invasive species ‘Buckthorn‘ is an ongoing project on the farm.  Today we’re working to clean up an area on a slope toward the lake.  Buckthorn is a problem because it out-competes native plants for nutrients, light, and moisture, it degrades wildlife habitat, it threatens the future of forests, wetlands, prairies, and other natural habitats, and contributes to erosion by shading out other plants that grow on the forest floor.

In a days work we can go from this

Fallen rotting trees and Buckthorn brush

Fallen rotting trees and Buckthorn brush

to this

Buckthorn and decaying trees removed to allow hardwoods to thrive

Buckthorn and decaying trees removed to allow hardwoods to thrive

After cutting the Buckthorn we create a burn pile to burn the brush so as not to spread the seeds.  Buckthorn is listed as a ‘restricted noxious weed’ in Minnesota, and it is illegal to import, sell, or transport buckthorn.

For removal of the Buckthorn we use a chainsaw and sometimes a brush cutter.

Our tool of choice, a chain saw

Our tool of choice, a chain saw

Stumps should be treated immediately after cutting (within 2 hours) with a herbicide containing Triclopyr  or Glyphosate (Roundup) to prevent re-sprouting.

Managing Buckthorn is a part of life on an 80 acre farm in Minnesota, something that all farmers and many homeowners accept.  We choose to focus on the positive aspects of clearing brush such as, “it’s agood workout” and “it’ll be nice to be working outdoors today” or “the dog would love the exercise”.

Dylan

Dylan

An almost greater problem while working with a chain saw in the woods, is unknowingly sawing in to wire grown in to a  tree from a former farmer who used the tree as a fence post.

Tree trunk with wire grown in to it

Tree trunk with wire grown in to it

This really messes up a chain saw.

We spend most ordinary Sundays trying to be good stewards of the land.  Our goal is to leave this farm in better shape than it was when we took it on.  Someday we’ll be Buckthorn free and I  can promise I’ll never use a tree as a fence post.

Dutch Lake Guest House Bed and Breakfast, MN

Dutch Lake Guest House Bed and Breakfast, MN

Our little part of the world, now Buckthorn free!

 

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