On Tuesday morning, we became the proud owners of the Big Pine Forty. Or in other words, we signed to become deeper in debt. But like all other past debts, we will suck it up and try to get this paid down as quickly as possible. On the way home, we stopped in our driveway to tack up a Private Drive sign so any hunters retrieving their deer stands would know the land is no longer Potlatch land, available for hunting. Will has found five deer stands in various shapes of repair or dis-repair on the land so far. And even though we are hunters ourselves, we don’t want others hunting there for our own safety during deer season. (I’ve been shot at “by mistake,” wearing hunter orange!)

On the way home, we stopped to tack up this sign to let hunters know the land was now private. (I hate “NO TRESPASSING” signs.)
This gives you an idea of how big some of those old pines are.

Will is out today cutting a four wheeler trail through the dead blow-down trees out there. Yesterday he and David went out and went as far by ATV as they could and walked the rest to try and remove a very old deer stand which was chained to a tree. The chain had been there so long it was growing into the tree and would probably kill that big pine. David climbed up and was able to unbolt a couple of through-bolts and pulled the chain about 3/4 of the way out. They have to go back and try to unscrew two lag bolts to remove the chain, which has partly grown into the bark.

Our favorite section of our mile and a half long drive passes right through the southern-most big pines. We think it’s beautiful.

Good news on the old heirloom corn. So far, two varieties are germinating; Assiniboine and Dakota White. I bought a heat mat to use as our house has often been 60 degrees or just a bit above and that’s a little cool for corn to germinate, even with fresh seed. I want to give that corn every chance possible! I’m even dreaming about planting that corn.

I’ve been carrying out dozens of flats of tomatoes and peppers so they can harden off on our deck. That takes about two hours daily as I also have to water them after they spend several hours in the sun. I’ll be glad when they can be big guys and go out into the hoop houses and garden in their Wall O’ Waters.

Will pruned most of our apple and pear orchard today. That was a job. But it was made easier with the battery operated reciprocal saw I bought him for Christmas. We had several trees damaged severely by the extremely cold winter several years ago. We’d let the trees alone to recover as they could but it was definitely time to remove the dead wood and prune the trunks down to one single trunk. Now they look brutalized, but will recover and grow better for the pruning they really needed. We also planted our Ely pear and Prairie Magic apple from St. Lawrence Nursery, which replaced two trees that had died. (If you’d like to learn more about growing apples, check out my article, Apples on your homestead in Issue 143 of Backwoods Home Magazine or the Twenty-Fourth Year Anthology.) — Jackie


  1. Congratulations to you on the purchase of the 40 acres with the old pines!! It will be 3 years this December that I bought my home place, now I’m the proud owner of 120 acres. It was my dad’s tree farm, he taught us kids about conservation, different trees (spruce, balsam, white pine, Norway pine, poplar, birch – on and on!!) I didn’t want his legacy lost. I love the place also – plan on keeping it for the future generations.

  2. Any idea on how to start/graft a tree branch from a young Apple tree? We had deer break one off last fall, it sat in a bucket of water over winter, now it has blossoms on it! I have it in a bucket of willow water as I’d heard that would help.

    • I’m not sure your branch, after sitting in water over winter will grow. It probably expended all its last energy putting out leaf buds and blossoms. And I’m not sure how large it is. I’ve had the best luck with pencil sized or smaller scion wood. (Scions are the small branches you graft onto the root stock.) I would Google “grafting apples” as the subject is much too large for me to answer here. Good luck!

  3. So happy for you all!! Nothing like land for a great investment for you all and the generations to come. What you will reap will be worth the cost in the long run. We will be praying for your continued good health and strength.

    • Yep. We have never and will never mortgage our 80 acres of home land though. It’s too dear to us to gamble that.

    • We are thrilled. Yesterday Will took me out on the four wheeler to see the trail he’d cut through a whole lot of smaller, blown down balsam fir, to the back of the forty. There are big trees scattered all through it. Wow!

  4. Congratulations on the purchase and welcome to more debt!! We have about 3/4s of an acre and I wish we had more. We are in town, close to hospital and doc, so won’t be able to add more land unless we go out of town.

    I get worn out just reading your blog and columns!!

    • Aw Pat, don’t get worn out now…. We’re having fun doing what we do. Hey, we don’t golf, bowl or go to the casinos. Our lifestyle is our hobby!

  5. That’s awesome about your land. As Will Rogers said “Buy land. They aren’t making any more of it.” Enjoy!!

  6. Your protection of those wonderful pines is a grand thing to do…despite the debt load! I love the pictures of them…and enjoy your blog so much. You teach us many things…

    • For years we’ve worried and worried someone would buy that land and cut them down or build a ratty hunting shack in there, ruining the quietness under those pines. Now we won’t have to worry about anything but paying for them!!! lol

  7. Congratulations on your purchase. A debt is a small thing to pay when you are preserving the land. Cudos to you all. So glad the pruning was easier for Will. You found your match in him.

    • We have had to go in debt a few times but have always striven to pay those debts off quickly even when we have to suck it up to do so.

  8. Yahoo on the pine 40! Almost looks like the south,’cept you’re still freezing. The debt is rough, but remember, you never “own” anything, as long as the taxman reigneth. Enjoy while it’s your own. Those big old pines are spectacular to see; I can just smell ’em! Beautiful.

    • And they speak to us in the soft wind, too. Luckily our taxes are minimal here so yea!!! We know nobody really “owns” land anyone, just like you can’t own the air we breathe, although I’m sure in the future they’ll figure a way to sell that too.

    • Fortunately, Gorges, the taxes up here are minimal. (The whole 200 acres with house, barns etc, are taxed only about $400 a year.)

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