Saturday, February 9, 2013

Tree shearing

Our property is an old farmstead from the late 1800's. The house has been in continuous use since it was built, but the fields were taken out of active use about 30 years ago. The patriarch of the last farming family died and his children sold the fields off to developers. Except for ours, which, for the most part, were allowed to return to nature.    
Around here, nature favors the honey locust.

I'd never seen a honey locust before I bought one. Well, dozens actually. The property is filled with them, many of which are large, mature trees. We also have dozens of maples and walnuts and some lovely oaks, so I'm not complaining. Not too much anyhow.

One of the top items on my to do list as the weather warms up is fencing for a new horse pasture. The tree in the photo sits right in the middle of my intended pasture, along with two of its closest relatives. Those things sticking out of the trunks are thorns. Long, hard, and extremely pointy. They are pony trouble waiting to happen. Even when they fall off the tree, they just hide in the grass -- still as hard and sharp as nails. One went through the sole of my boot. I pulled another one out of Boomer's paw. They really have to go.

So, I did some research into the best way to eradicate honey locusts. The choices are limited. Poison, fire, and well, that's about it. Poison is out because I don't do poisons with so many animals around. Fire is out, because, well, I lived in California far too long to ever start an outdoor fire on purpose. Which leaves only my personal solution.

Tree shearing.

I spent a couple of hours on this beautiful sunny day breaking and pulling and cutting the thorns off the trunk of one trial honey locust. I got every thorn up to about 7 feet off the ground. It filled a large garbage can. To be really safe, I should probably go to 8 or 9 feet, but in general I'm pleased. This way the ponies can play around the trees and not risk impaling themselves. I avoid the problem of fallen thorns created by cutting the trees down and I preserve the shade offered by the mature canopies, which is a big deal in the heat of midsummer.

Not a bad afternoon's work.


  1. Those are some nasty, wicked looking thorns! I can see where they would be pony trouble waiting to happen! I'll be curious to see how long pruning off the thorns keeps them away.

  2. Maybe they won't grow back. Wouldn't that be nice? I think the Honey Locust must be the Alpines of the tree word. :)

    1. Haha. Maybe what I need, Marigold, is a couple of alpines to keep the honey locusts trimmed FOR me.