Growing free

When we had the nephews at the farm two weeks ago, the tall one and I went to work on task #10 on the fall to-do list: remove stakes from established trees and stake the new trees that we planted this spring. The first step was to unshackle the trees from the cuffs that were wrapped around them. Some were tied with rope, some had sections of garden hose, some had wire. All were snug. Some were strangling. It was quite an arboreal torture chamber we were running here.

No tree emerged unscathed. Some are simply scarred.

Dark rope line on tree bark

Others are permanently deformed.

Deformed tree

We cut the wires and hoses and ropes out of the trees as best we could. Where we ran into trouble was the stakes. The nephew and I did fairly well on the first few trees rocking the stakes back and forth to loosen them up and then pulling them out in a coordinated effort. However, after he left and it was up to Matt and me, the rest of the stakes held strong.

We must have been missing the magic touch, because no matter how much we wiggled the stakes we couldn’t get them to budge.

In desperation, Matt went and got Wiley, and I found a rope. We tied the rope to the stake and attached the other end to Wiley’s loader. Then Matt raised the bucket, the rope snapped, and the stake stayed where it was.

I went and got a chain. We hooked everything together, and Matt raised the bucket again. And the front wheels of the tractor lifted off the ground.

We spent a while adjusting the chain, adjusting the tractor, tugging on the stake and only succeeded in bending it.

Tree with a bent metal stake

The conclusion I came to is that the stakes have been in the ground so long that the tree roots must have grown around the metal. I don’t think we’re going to get them out. Above ground, the trees are free. I can only hope they survive their ordeal and continue to grow. Matt, however, is a bit traumatized from his wheelie on the tractor, so we’re calling this job good enough for now. The rest of the stakes–removing them from the older trees and adding them to the new trees–can wait until spring.

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