Pioneer Trees


I want trees on the ranch. Obviously, a ranch that was described in the real estate listing as “good for nothing but sagebrush” is a challenging environment for trees. I’ve done a lot of work investigating the most hardy pioneer trees that can survive in the drier areas of Utah.

But I’ll get back to pioneer trees in a moment.

My wife and I just celebrated our 21st anniversary. We took a trip up to Brigham City for dinner and a little sightseeing. We both love Brigham City, and might even move there in the next few years.

Brigham City Temple
My wife and I were married in the Salt Lake City Temple, but we weren’t near Salt Lake on our anniversary, so we stopped by the Brigham City Temple, instead.

For our anniversary dinner, I suggested we try a different place than our norm. She was up for it, so we tried out Maddox, a steakhouse that served buffalo steaks. (That’s American Bison, just to clear up any confusion.)

Neither one of us had ever been to Maddox, so I called them up in the morning, and made reservations just in case they were busy. That turned out to be a good idea. The wait was about 30-45 minutes for people without reservations. We only waited about five minutes with our reservation.

By the way, buffalo steak turned out to be very good. It’s leaner than regular beef steak, so needs to be cooked on the rare side to avoid drying out. We both loved the steaks.

After dinner, we visited the Brigham City Temple. We were married in the Salt Lake City Temple, but we were nearer the Brigham City Temple, so that’s the one we visited after dinner.

Sheds and Cabins
I want a cabin up on my ranch, but will settle for a shed. This is the model I have been window shopping for.

Our final stop on our anniversary dinner tour was a visit to Old Hickory Sheds, also in Brigham City. I’ve been eyeing these sheds for a while, because you can rent to own, and they deliver them fully built. Unfortunately, I’m making two car payments at the moment, so buying a nice shed like the one in the above photo is out of the question. However, I can dream of having a comfortable retreat/office up at Dove Ranch, even if I can’t afford it yet.

So, back to pioneer trees. On my last visit to the ranch, my daughter and I planted a cottonwood. They are wonderful pioneer trees here in Utah. They grow fine in Woods Cross, just north of Salt Lake City, even without extra water.

Dove Ranch receives about half the water that Woods Cross receives. Still, with the amount of water in the ground down in the wash I had high hopes.

You can check out the photo of my daughter by the freshly planted cottonwood here. Our big question was, will this tree survive without water for a week or more before our return visit.

Good news. The cottonwood is still alive.

Cottonwood Miracle
The cottonwood survived its first ten days without water up on the ranch. It shed most of its leaves, but the remaining ones look fine. We’re very excited at this little bit of success.

Cottonwoods, like many drought tolerant trees, shed leaves and branches when they are short on water. It’s hard to tell in this photo, but the leaves still remaining on the tree are healthy. Considering the cottonwood did not have any supplemental water for ten days of dessert heat and exposure right after coming from the nursery, I’m pretty excited. it survived without any rooting in the surrounding soil.

The lacebark elm (Chinese elm) that I planted on my last visit didn’t die either. The rabbits got to the exposed portions and chewed them off, but the tree itself looks healthy.

The hackberry we planted in the wash with bark chips around it is doing fantastic. I think it looks healthier than when we planted it. Hackberries, like cottonwoods, also shed leaves when they don’t have enough water. So, we shouldn’t have been surprised to find one of the hackberries we thought was dead has new leaves on it. That makes a total of three confirmed living hackberry seedlings on Dove Ranch.

We had one more anniversary up at the ranch. We have our first one-year-old Colorado pinyon! Now that’s exciting. It even has new growth on it, so it is adapting well to the ranch. We’ve learned a lot about how to make trees live up there without drowning them in water. I expect a lot more survivors this time next year.

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