Live Staking

February 29, 2020

One thousand live stakes of black willow have just been planted along this sloping creek bank.

"Live staking" is a process of coppicing willow shoots, cutting them into 2 foot lengths, and then transplanting them into moist soil. When executed during appropriate conditions, results are very reliable. It can't be too warm or the stake will germinate buds but not roots, and die. The tree from which the stake is harvested needs to be dormant, which means winter. But if too cold, the stake freezes and also dies. Temperatures need to be around 40 degrees during the non-growing season, and the soil needs to be moist enough to receive the stake. Such conditions were present this past week, and a hearty team of five cut live stakes and planted them into the stream bank, which we had peeled back last fall. Jacob, Paula, Bob, Kathy, and Clark persevered through cold rain to bring this important task to the fore, for which we are most grateful.

If you look closely in this picture, a series of ten-inch willow stakes rise above the snow, three rows deep, and 1500 feet long, close to the water. This planting will stabilize the bank, preventing massive erosion we had previously experienced. In another month or so, 750 tree seedlings will be planted further up the bank, that are slightly less tolerant of saturated conditions, to include: Silky Dogwood, Pin Oak, Shellbark Hickory, Swamp White Oak, River Birch, and Sycamore.  The live stakes come from our own eco-system; the rooted seedlings will come from the Kentucky Division of Forestry. These plantings will serve two increasingly critical social functions: holding soil and sequestering carbon from the atmosphere. 

I am reading Dirt, The Erosion of Civilizations, by David Montgomery, in which he eloquently chronicles the repeated folly of great civilizations to ignore the implication of letting their soils erode. Once eroded beyond a tipping point, they no longer can support the population, and social instability then sets in, ultimately to the demise of the culture. This was true of the Mesopotamians, Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Chinese, Mongols, and Mayans. It is currently true of the Australians, English, and Americans. We take soil for granted until it is gone, and then beware.

Mike has been busy harvesting one of Nature's great delicacies -- maple syrup! He has tapped 8 maple trees, and employs gravity to collect the sap, which reduces under heat at at ratio of 40:1 to produce syrup. It is heartening to see this enterprise under way. 

We also continue apace with our egg-washing room. The concrete floor is now poured. 

If we had to define one live stake, which we drive into the ground and claim, in addition to the black willow, it would be the management of land, for the dual benefit of eco-system and people. It is well summarized by a recent talk given by Bobby Gill of the Savory Institute.  

Beth & Bob will be serving Tar-Heel Pulled Pork sandwhiches, with homemade aioli and greens, tomorrow at Hyde Park. These sandwiches are easy and excellent. Tar-Heel Pulled Pork can be ordered here

As uncertainty grows in our world, the live stakes we plant for ourselves are evermore important. May yours find moist soil.

Drausin & Susan

Drausin Wulsin

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