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Today my Godson came by to work for me again. I was surprised that he still wanted to work for me after the tiring day of planting last week. Last Tuesday we planted 140 trees, today’s goal was 200 trees. We started off with a head of steam, but by lunch time we only had about 70 trees planted. It did not look good for us to reach our goal. So, after lunch I tried two different strategies. First I told him that I could unload the van of the 70 trees, before he could plant a row of 17 trees. Now If I were planting the trees, it would take me about 5 minutes. I was counting on it taking him about 15 minutes, because that is how long that I thought it would take me to unload the van. We both finished at the same time in about 12 minutes. He just did not want to be beat by me. After digging a few holes, we started planting. We were now on a quicker pace, but he was beginning to slow down. Now for strategy number two, bribery. I told him that if we planted the remaining trees in an hour, we would be finished before his allotted time and we could go get a frozen yogurt before his Dad came by to pick him up. Well, it worked and he started to plant like a mad man. We planted about 160 trees in the same amount of time that it took us to plant 140 trees last week and we went and got frozen yogurt. He decided on a root beer float instead. We were both very tired, but I got a lot of work done that I would have had to do by myself. I also learned that my motivational skills are still intact.
Yesterday, I had my Godson help me plant trees up the hill. We planted a total of 140 trees in about 5 hours. He helped me load my van, take them up the hill, unload the van and helped me plant the trees. After we planted the trees, he helped me water. He told me that he had never worked so hard. I tried not to push him because I want him to help me plant more trees next week. He worked up an appetite for lunch, but that could also be because he is a teenager. I was impressed by his work ethic. All is not lost with our youth. Just when it seems like they have become soft, you get inspired by a young person that wants to work hard. He surprised me by telling me that he was going to splurge on a cd that he wants and save the rest of the money. I think he slept well last night. I think he now has a little bit of an appreciation for what it takes to earn money.
Today I have been working on a row of crab apples. I started field growing crab apples a few years ago after I got a request from a few different customers. They are growing quite nicely. However, they throw out a lot of sucker growth near the base. So today I spent time removing the sucker growth and also worked on the movement of the tree. After I pruned the trees, I fed them with a flowering plant fertilizer. I got through about half of the row of trees. Today I also had about 4 customers. Next week I am going to have my Godson help me at the bonsai nursery. Maybe we will have another budding bonsai enthusiast on our hands. I plan on having him help me weed and plants some more trees. He is a good kid and really wants a job. He may regret asking me for a job after he works with me for a few days. Oh well, I think he will do great and we could always use more bonsai enthusiasts.
Sometimes the best way to learn something is to take the bull by the horns and just do it! Today was our bonsai club meeting. I was giving suggestions on how to proceed with at tree. My father came by later and just suggested to speed up the process. He cut off a major part of the trunk to improve the apex. My approach was to raise a smaller branch and to cut off the main part of the trunk after the apex was stronger. I thought about things in a different light. It was also the day to demonstrate candle pruning on pines. My father cut back a pine and was showing others how to prune back the candles. I went over to someone who was having a little problem. At first I showed him how and where to cut the candles. After I showed him what to do, I walked around to help others with their trees. When I came back. The person did not get very far in candle pruning. This time I took a different approach. I told him to watch as I cut and pruned back his pine slowly. Then I asked him to ask me questions if he did not understand what I was doing. By showing him what I was doing slowly, I think he really learned the concept of cutting the candles and thinning the tree. It also made me a better teacher. Many times I get involved in pruning and I just prune and thin and discuss what I was doing. By slowing down the process, you really see the perspective of the student. Why am I cutting something back? Why this branch and not that one? Many times when you teach, you become myopic and do not understand the students point of view. When you talk about each individual step, things come into better focus. Teaching properly is the best way to learn something…..
Today we took the tractor up the hill to work on tilling the weeds. I lease some land that I planted trees on a few years ago. Please do not e-mail me and ask what I have up there. It’s a secret! Just kidding. The reason is because this is a long term project and I will not be selling these trees for many more years. When they are close to being ready, I will let you know. Just to give you a heads up on what is up there, it is very similar to what I carry at the nursery. I just wanted the trees to have some time to thicken up. There was a little bit of wind up there. I did not realize how much dust would kick up. So as my Father ran the tractor, I followed him and sprayed water on the rototiller to keep the dust down. When we were finished, the place looked great. Now I am ready to plant more trees. When we were done tilling, my Dad and I just looked at each other and had to chuckle. The water kept the dust down, but it created very small muddy dust particles that clung to everything. We both looked like pig pen on the Charlie Brown comic strip. Oh well a little dust never hurt anyone. Now when I get down the hill to start weeding it will look like I’ve been working really hard before I start….