Some notes from the farm:

Since 1998 we've been working to re-forest an 80 acre dairy farm located in North-West Wisconsin. All the work has been done by family and friends. Nearly all the hardwood trees have come from seed that we have collected and processed ourselves. Much of this seed was scattered or planted at the farm but a good deal was cultivated in back-yard nurseries to protect the young trees until they can compete 'in the field'.

We have learned much during this experience and we are continually learning more. We have had many successes and many failures but we consider it an honor and a privilege to spend our time and energy making the world (and the air) better for our children.

Some Links:

A brief History:



1997: "Five Miles of Walnuts"


First planting of trees on farm - south end of strips down into back field (between barn and Hurley's Woods). This land was currently not rented to our neighbor and therefore not planted to corn.

Plowed furrows with single bottom plow at 8' - 10' row intervals from west side of spruce patch west to Hurley's Woods. Direct seeded with walnut seed that had been gathered by Roland Baker in River Falls, Wi. in the fall of 1996 and over wintered (for required cold treatment - vernalization - stratification) in a pit dug in Roland's back-yard.

NOTE: Roland has found that the best way to vernalize Black Walnut seed is:
This works best because it exposes the seed nut to natural conditions of temperature, moisture, and air that are all needed to vernalize the seed.

We also transplanted Black Walnut (and Butternut) seedlings that were dug from Roland's garden nursery.

Roland, Debi, Jordan and I planted seeds by walking the furrows with pickle pails containing the Walnuts (both nuts and transplants). We would drop a nut every 1 or 2 paces and gently press it into the soil with our heals. Taking care not to crack the nuts in their weakened state (already starting the germination process by loosening the tight seal between the two hard shell halves). If the nut comes apart it will probably kill the newly forming embryo.

Alternatively (when seeds were farther along and weaker) We also used a small shovel to 'hoe' a small divot in the soil to hold the seed and then brush the dirt over the top and gently step to pack it down.

We planted for two whole days (a lot of work for us city slickers - and a 10 year-old). The total area we planted was 5 Acres and I calculated we planted about 5 miles of furrow.

(Pictures to follow - as soon as I dig them out....)



Winter and Spring: Finish planting 60,000 Walnut Seed (they must be nuts):

The corn was still standing in the fields over winter (one big 40-acre field) because our renter couldn't get it all harvested in the fall - or didn't have space to store it. This field was yielding record breaking crops which were over-taxing his resources to process and store. We continued to plant walnuts between the rows of standing corn. Roland had collected truck-loads of seed from the streets in River Falls and he would provide these by the bucket to anyone we could talk into walking these rows with us. I'm afraid he ended up walking most of those rows that fall, winter and spring. We were planting every fifth corn row. We'd drop the seed every pace or two and press it into the soft ground with our heal as we walked. It would take about one pickle pail full of nuts to compete one row. These rows ran between 1900' and 1500' (running North to South) as we planted beginning on the East edge of the farm and moving to the West.

The winter of 1997-98 was fairly mild and the fields stayed relatively 'open' to planting late into the fall and spring thaw was fairly early.


Spring: First Year of Transplanting Trees from DNR Nursery:

Planting 1999
Planting like it's 1999

Transplanting 1999
Sunday May 9th


  1. Jordan has mastered following not-so-straight corn rows under tall weeds. 
  2. Re-charging the planter's "lift" battery
  3. Re-charging Jordan's battery
  4. Debi in the "afterglow" after planting ~3500 of the 7000 trees.
  5. Debi and Roland in the middle of it - "just get em in the ground...". 





2003 is a year of replanting fields that haven't taken hold. The stand levels were so low from the first transplanting that we decided to just plant the whole area over again and try to go between the original rows so as not to dig up any trees that did survive.

We will be working on the 8 acres in the bottom land. This land is extremely fertile and grass and weeds are a real problem. The last crop before trees was alfalfa but that had been crowded out by grass and weeds. (The giant ragweed can reach 15 feet in height).

Order in for 2003 trees from DNR Nursery. About 6000 total and a pretty good mix:
1000 Red Pine
1000 Wh. Pine
500 Wh Spruce
500 Burr Oak
500 Wh. Oak
500 Red Oak
1000 Black Ash
500 Gr Ash
500 Wh Cedar

April 25, 2003:
Roland will pick up trees at Balsam lake after 1:00 today
We should plant between rows on BOTH the bottom and the strips. This will give us enough places to put 7k trees without hand planting. this means we probably don't need to mow.
We should spray semazine on both the bottom and the strips.

Letter 4/28/03:
No rain. Warm and sunny! Hope you had a good trip back to Madison.
The gal came to pick up the planter today and look over the lower field. She said there were some trees that were not planted deep enough and some that were planted too deep (pines). I told her the planter depth kept changing because of all the grass and it was difficult to gage the depth of the trough. She said we will just have to wait and see how they survive. I hope this is not a huge problem.

Questions for Forester on 4/30/2003:
The person who picked up the planter said some of the trees weren't planted right (too shallow or too deep) We tried hard to get this right -- under some difficult conditions in places -- but I didn't have enough people to have one follow the planter the whole weekend.

I'm bringing up our scout troop on the weekend of the 11th. Is that too late to reposition the serious problems (re-plant)?

I plan on spraying this weekend. I see that Oust is approved for tank mix with Simazine. Is Oust restricted? I imagine it's expensive -- but so was replanting. We have been putting on Simazine at 3 pounds (quarts). The label says up to 4.4 pounds (4 quarts). Can we go towards the high side? Green and White Ash aren't listed for simazine on in the document I am reading. Will they tolerate this?
For stepping in the trees, the 11th is not too late. The earlier the better, so there will be some that you won't save, but better than not at all.

We have used simizine on ash with no problems. You can up the rate, your soil is fairly heavy so it shouldn't hurt anything.
Do not use Oust. The rate is so low (1/2 oz per acre) that it is tough to regulate and Barron County killed 300,000 red pine one year.
The hardwoods will be fine, but don't spray it on pine.

If you want to mix something with simizine, try Pendulum again. Used with simizine, we have had decent luck. Again at 3-4 lbs per acre. It's expensive though.


Fall: (October 25&26) Work on Strips (west facing hillside)....
Plowed furrows 6' to 8' apart starting west of old field road and working down towards Hurley's woods.
Transplanted seedlings from 2002 seed collection in Madison(See Link).
Approximately 425 seedlings grown in D40 tree tubes.








This has been a nearly perfect growing year for trees (and everything else). Plenty of moisture throughout the growing season and with warm (but not hot) temperatures. The plantation has continued to grow in height but, most notably, this year has seen a broadening or thickening of the pines, in general, and the walnut (in the 'Five Miles' section). This has served to further close in the canopy moving the plantation towards the much desired end of converting field to forest. [More...]


The Walnut we planted in 1997 is now ready for it's frist pruning. This first pass is mainly to determine what is growing, where it's growing, and what is growing next to it. Many of the Walnuts are still too small to prune so we mainly check to see that they are not being held back by weed trees (box elder, etc) or over-topped - or unreasonably crowded - by the pine that we planted (intentionally close to the walnuts) in 1998. The small Walnut trees are left untouched. We don't want to take off branches that are used by the tree to put on growth (any growth at this point). We can worry about form later ( as follows ). Many of these walnut have grown to 15 to 20 feet and I can barely wrap the fingers of one hand around the trunk at chest heigth. These are ready to start developing into straight, knot free, saw log (or venier) producers. We not only prune off lower branches but we check for any doubles (two trees planted in same place) and that there is a dominant leader. There are many trees where the leader (or terminal bud that will become the leader) has either been nipped off by deer or by the wind or been frozen by a late frost. This results in two or more new leaders competing for leadership (racing each other for the sky). We look at the over-all growth of each of these and that of the tree and decide which has the best chance to continue the tree's gowth in a straight path. [More...]


  • Abstract:
    The Summer of 2011 was warm and wet. It was one of the best growing seasons we have had since we first began planting these trees. Over the past winter we have continued to prune up these evergreens and thin where they are already too crowded. We are knocking down any white pine that have been infected (totally) with blister rust and removing infected branches where the main tree still looks like it might recover (lesions and symptoms haven't reached the main trunk).

    2012 I plan to spend a lot more time at the farm and in longer stetches. This will all me to apply a more consistent effort to some troubling management areas and hopefully this added attention (quantity and quality) will pay dividends.

    The primary areas of concern are:
    1. Area to the west of the homestead ("West 40") where trees have been planted multiple times but can't seem to compete with the grasses to get a start.
    2. Clear invading brush and undesirable trees from the woods to the west. Re-establish fire buffer between our woods and the neighbors.
    3. Continue removal of invasive trees and brush like box elder and buckthorn.
    4. Continue clearing underbrush from 'old windbreak' and promoting desired species - either plannted naturally or by us. Knocking down areas where growth is thick and tall. Spot spray roundup on areas that have been previously knocked down to prevent re-growth. Much of this break had blown down and now the trees are rotting to a point where they don't prevent the use of a tractor with bucket and brush hog.
    5. Watch Eagle pair as they raise their young.

    March 2012 we began transplanting White oak seedlings in the area west of the homestead. This is the 3d planting of much of this area. Rich soil and heavy sod have so far defeated our attempts at release. This year we will try using some heavy mulch to control weeds around the new seedlings. [More...]
  • Last Updated:
    October 4, 2012 8:18 AM
    Webmaster: Stuart Baker
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