PHOTO: J. Keeler Johnson
December 27, 2016

With Christmas in the rear-view mirror and the beginning of 2017 just days away, it’s time to think ahead and make plans for the coming year! This is the season when people like to make New Year’s resolutions, and while I’ve never been one to make a formal list, I do have a handful of plans for 2017 that I thought I would put down on (virtual) paper. Perhaps they’ll give you a few ideas for your own New Year’s resolutions!

1. Plant More Trees

I’m a serious tree fan and enjoy identifying unfamiliar varieties and debating whether I’m looking at a Sugar Maple, a Black Maple or some sort of hybrid cross-bred that defies classification. In recent years, I’ve transplanted a few Basswood trees that have taken reasonably well, and I’m planning to do more in 2017—I might even purchase a few from nurseries and bring in specific varieties that interest me, such as Chinese Chestnut or Bur Oak.

2. Learn To Graft Fruit Trees

In keeping with the theme of Resolution No. 1, I’m hoping to improve my tree-grafting abilities in 2017 from virtually non-existent to somewhat capable. The handful of attempts I’ve made have not fared particularly well (truth be told, they all died), but the idea of cultivating specific fruit tree varieties and preserving the genetics of old apple trees is appealing. Thus, mastering the art of grafting is high on my list.

3. Build A Rock Wall

I have a fondness for rock walls and have been meaning to build one—at least a short one!—for many years, if only for aesthetic purposes. I certainly have an ample supply of rocks to choose from (there are large rock piles on the edges of all the original farm fields), and I’ve read about the techniques of building various rock wall types. Now, I just need to get started!

4. Invest In Hand Tools

You’ve probably figured out by now that I’m fond of hand tools, and while I like to make do with the ones I have, I might invest in some new ones for 2017. One tool that I believe could be particularly useful to me is a mattock, a type of double-sided axe used for digging and cutting through roots. It would come in handy for removing small tree stumps from the ground.

5. Create Innovative Pasture Gates

Frost can be troublesome where I live, particularly in areas that receive a lot of traffic during the winter, such as pasture gates. The frost is fond of heaving gateposts out of place, leading to frequent repairs and post replacements, but I have a handful of ideas for creating more innovative and frost-resistant gate designs in 2017. Perhaps one of them can eliminate the frost issues!

Do you have any New Year’s resolutions for 2017? Let us know what they are!

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