Monthly Archives: August 2011

The Giants of Good Hand Farm

I believe that planting a tree is an act of faith.  And even love.
Here at Good Hand Farm, we thank God frequently for two massive Sugar maples that shade our home during these long summer days.  And in addition to summer cooing, they readily welcome the sun’s warming rays through their leafless winter canopies.
Maple shade: The farmhouse is cool at noon.
While we thank Him for creating these spectacular trees, we also thank Him for an unknown man – or woman –around 200 years ago, who had the faith to plant these giants. For a couple of decades, they protected them from deer and drought, with little or no payback in syrup or shade.  Two centuries later, our home is pleasant in the summer because of their faith in unseen blessings to come.
Of course, trees also absorb CO2.  But the math isn’t all that compelling, taken in isolation.  A 25-year-old maple absorbs 2.4 lbs. of CO2 per year.  Let’s say that on average, our ancient giants have accounted for 10 lbs. per year, or one ton each since they were planted in about 1800.  That sounds great, but the average American generates about 20 tons of CO2 per year.  These giants are working hard, but they can never keep up with the effects of our carbon binge.
But let’s not write off the trees too fast.  Unlike almost everyone we know, we hardly ever run the AC at our house.  The first rays of the summer sun hit our roof around noon, and we capture the nighttime breeze as much as possible.  The maples are contributing to sustainable living, even without the magic of photosynthesis.
Dying maple now threatens motorists & wires
Today, however, the searing summer heat that regularly grips the Northeast is killing off Sugar maples by the thousands (millions?).   In fact, we’re losing another one this summer.  We have to take it down before it falls on the electric lines along the road.   Early this spring, we had to cut down an ancient apple tree before it did the same.
The fact is – whatever the cause – trees die.  That’s why we plant so many around here.  Seven tall poplars planted ten years ago give us a gentle rustle on breezy days.  An oak tree from 2004 is just beginning to cast afternoon shade on the house.  A Colorado spruce from 2005 adds that distinctive powder blue to our roadside.
Two Norway spruces have stood sentry in our southern yard since 2006. Four Fraser firs are just reaching waist height here and there.  Four Red maples are casting bits of dark shade after four years in the ground.  Four young Red oaks are clinging to life in their protective cages in the pasture, despite our horses’ craving for their leaves.  The world’s largest weed, the Weeping willow, now shelters our chickens from the summer’s heat, after only four years.  And this spring, we planted a young Sycamore for eventual morning shade on our southern roof.
New Oaks (l), Spruces (c), Poplars and Maples (r) replace inevitable losses
Most fun of all, however, is our seedling nursery.  Every fall, we collect acorns from favorite trees when visiting parks, forests and campuses.  And in the spring, we dig up the sprouted seedlings and plant them in pots, to be tended for transplanting.  For now, our chicken yard has been pressed into service as a tree nursery, although the chickens are not always the best arborists.  But soon, we hope to have young oaks lining our farm lane, pasture and roadside.
Oak seedlings to be set out this fall
So, if you come by Good Hand Farm, ask us for an oak seedling.  We’d be glad for you to find a home for a new tree.  In a century or two, someone just might thank God for your faith.  And your love.
Thanks for reading, and may God bless you.
J. Elwood
“For here the saying holds true, “One sows and another reaps.” I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor.  Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.” Gospel of John 4:37
More images of Good Hand Farm Trees
Colorado spruce (l) and Fraser fir (r) with solar panels beyond.
The oak nursery:  Little trees for you to raise?
Midday Willow shade for our layers and their rooster
Gain and loss: old applewood pile, and new Sycamore.

220 Congressmen vs. One Teenager

I’m putting my money on the kid.

Did you read Peter Elwood’s post about Kids v. Global Warming yesterday?  This is a group led by 16-year-old Alec Loorz, which has sued 12 states for failing to protect the public trust because they failed to limit climate-warming greenhouse gases.  Basically, they’re kids telling adults: We won’t stand by idly while you destroy the earth we’re going to inherit. (Read Peter’s story here.)

Well, I’ve been around lawsuits for a long time, and I frankly didn’t give these ones much of a chance.  But apparently, the majority in the House of Representatives got really worried.  Virtually every one of their party, including my congressman, Rep. Scott Garrett, supports H.R. 2584, a horrific Bill they’re working on to fund, among other things, the EPA next year.  And way down in Sec. 431, the House bill singles out Kids v. Global Warming.  Here’s what it says:

“No cause of action based on Federal or State common law or civil tort (including nuisance) may be brought or maintained, and no liability, money damages, or injunctive relief arising from such an action may be imposed, for (A) any potential or actual contribution of a greenhouse gas to climate change; or (B) any direct or indirect effect of potential or actual or past, present, or future increases in concentrations of a greenhouse gas.”

Translation:  These kids better not sue us (or our oil & coal campaign contributors) for destroying the climate of their world, and if they do and prove their claim in a court of law, we won’t be liable anyway, and they can’t force us to do anything. Take that!
Now, maybe this bill will never be approved by the Senate, and maybe it will never be signed into law by the President.  But if it is, I’m still putting my money on “Kids.”
What little people can do…

Why?  Because these 220 politicians will have to answer for themselves to voters like you in less than two years. And in two years, Alec Loorz and his friends will just be turning 18.

And little people know
When little people fight
We may look easy pickings
But we’ve got some bite
So never kick a dog
Because he’s just a pup
We’ll fight like twenty armies
And we won’t give up
So you’d better run for cover
When the pup grows up! 
    Gavroche, Les Miserables
Don’t give up, kids!

Thanks for reading, and may God bless you.

J. Elwood