Living Like By the Shores of Silver Lake ~ Trees

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I wasn’t quite ready to move on to The Long Winter yet. How ironic that we will be going through that book in the heat of summer! While reading By the Shores of Silver Lake this week I came across this paragraph:

“I wanted to see trees, ” Carrie explained. “I don’t blame her,” said Ma, “I would like to see some trees again myself. They would rest my weary eyes from all this prairie with not a tree. Not even a bush to be seen in any direction.” “This country’s going to be covered with trees,” Pa said, “Don’t forget that Uncle Sam’s tending to that. There’s a tree claim on every section, and settlers have got to plant ten acres on every tree claim. In four or five years you’ll see trees every way you look.” “I’ll be looking in all directions at once then,” Ma smiled, “There’s nothing more restful than shady groves in the summertime, and they’ll break the wind too.” ~ By the Shores of Silver Lake p.270

Out here on the prairie, to see a tree is few and far between. Further east you start to see trees surrounding a farm and then when you get to Wisconsin you can barely find a piece of ground to rest your eyes on because there are so many trees! The last time we were in Wisconsin I met a little family and I was telling their girls about how we live out on the prairie, they just couldn’t imagine a place without any trees!

Trees are essential no matter where you live. Out here we need them for shade and wind protection. But since trees dont’ naturally grow on the prairie(unless it around a creek) they are difficult to grow and the ones from the big stores are very expensive! Here’s a couple alternatives we’ve found to get some cheaper trees planted.

  1. You can get 10 trees from the Arbor Day Foundation for signing up for their membership. It only costs $10. The trees you get will be dependent on your hardiness zone. Here in the Black Hills we can get flowing trees, Redbuds, Colorado Blue Spruce, White Pines, Norway Spruces, Eastern Redcedars, White Firs, or Douglas Firs. They will send you the trees when it’s a good time to plant in your area.
  2. You can plant a tree shelterbelt with the help of the county. Find out more information about this one at your local courthouse. In some counties, they will help you rip up the ground, get you trees at a discounted price, and help you plant. They only do this twice a year, in the spring and in the fall so make sure you contact someone ahead of time if you are interested. You can find more info on shelterbelts HERE.
  3. You can buy permits to dig up trees in the National Forest. Just head to your local forest service station and tell them you want to buy tree permits. Locally you can purchase 10 permits per year and they are $5 each. You can dig up almost any tree as long as you are careful to get all the roots and fill in the hole that you make. Also the tree must be under 6 feet. This is a great deal for some taller trees. When you get the permits you will get more info on where you can dig, what you can dig, ect.
  4. If you want to purchase trees from a big box store, find out about the stores refund policy first. Menards will let you bring back any tree that dies of natural causes within a year from your purchase date. This is a good guarantee when you are spending that much money on a tree.

Know of any other cheap places to get trees?

Make sure you check out the entire Living Like Little House series!

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  1. Tree seedlings are everywhere on our property every spring. I spend hours every spring pulling them up and throwing them on the compost heap. Hard for me to imagine no trees. I did live in Iowa until I was 9 but we had trees there.

  2. We have a big yard that needs lots of trees. Last year, we bought several tall trees when Menard’s had them on 50% off at the end of the season. We figured we’d take them back if they died but they actually all survived (and, with one exception, thrived!). It was a great way for us to afford trees we couldn’t get otherwise.

    1. We did that too but unfortunately they didn’t make it, probably our fault though. They are a great deal when they go on clearance!

  3. When you plant new trees or shrubs they should be watered at least every other day for a year. A huge commitment of time is needed to get new plantings established. I have 9 new large shrubs that I am watering this summer and I feel like everyday watering will be needed because of the heat.

    1. Another good tip! We have a hard time getting them to grow here because the ground is so hard. It’s the same reason I have troubles with my garden:(

  4. Just about everywhere we have lived we plant pecans. Last year had several pecans from one of the two trees that we bought when we first moved here. This year with the drought we learned that we have to water the trees in order to get some pecans. Four of our trees are from the squirrels digging a hole and putting a pecans in the ground. We later dug up the tiny trees and planted it in a better spot. Pecans are selling for $3.99 a pound so it’s worth it to us to plant some pecan trees.

  5. Hi Merissa! I found your blog recently. Have you heard of raised bed gardening? You would only have to re-till the composted materials when the growing season is over, and it would be softer than the Georgia red clay we have here, and limestone rock my parents have in Tennessee. You should also check out square foot gardening if you haven’t already.

    Thank you for all the encouraging posts! I hope to live simply with my husband on our own spit of land one day, but for now we live with his parents, and try to make the best of it. Though, my heart has not been in the right place because I grew up in a metro area. Not a major city, but it qas a regulated neighborhood. I’ve always seemed odd to others because, as a girl, I loved squishing my bear feet in the mud. Lol!

    God bless!

    P.S. Your link about working from home on computers was broken yesterday. Might still be, unless someone else told you about it.

    1. My parents do raised bed gardening and I really would like to try it at our next place. I love the idea of it and everyone I know that has tried it loves it! Sorry about the work from computers link isn’t working…I’m not sure what happen to the article so I’ll have to investigate!