Let me start by saying it was a rough four days of working all day long. At the end of the day Jamie, my dad, and I all walked significantly slower back to our cars than we had walked out to the field in the morning. Being unable to straighten our backs and knees all the way had something to do with it, I'm sure. It took great effort to make it up the stairs to the shower once we got home. It hurt but it felt so good when at the end of each day I paused for water and to stretch my back, and I looked around for the first time--the rest of the day had been spent bending down and looking at the dirt I was packing in around the trees--and I saw all the rows of tiny green sprouts standing proud. Happiness washed over all the achy muscles, bruises, and scratches.
This was the first time we had done this type of farming and to this scale. Jamie and my dad both grew up on farms and have plenty of experience with planting, but each type of planting is a little different, and none of us had planted Christmas trees. Jamie and I researched our options and bought a power head and an auger. It was moderately expensive considering we won't see income for at least four years. The only size anyone had in stock was six inches and we needed smaller, so we ordered it online. A week later we found a YouTube video on planting Christmas trees using a dibble bar. It looked manageable and simple. Even though the dibble bar would be more work, we knew we would both feel pride from sweating for our land. Plus, it was a fraction of the price of the power head/auger combo. We ordered two and took the power head and auger back that night.
When our baby tree-lets arrived it felt like Christmas morning. There were so many boxes the UPS man had to use a hand cart. There were six boxes total. Four boxes of trees, a box of groceries that I had ordered, and another one I didn't really look at until the UPS man had left. It was the power head that we had taken back. I was confused. There was a label with Jamie's name on it. A quick text to Jamie confirmed that he had not ordered another one. The next day the UPS man delivered two more boxes: our final box of trees, and the auger. This time I didn't have to sign, so he just left them outside. After closer examination we found a second shipping label on the boxes for "Unknown" with a Wisconsin address. We didn't want to keep Mr. Unknown from receiving his auger, but we thought we'd wait to return it again after the planting weekend to make sure we didn't need it.
We had talked to knowledgeable people about their processes and that helped, however the biggest factor was the makeup of our exact type of dirt, and it turns out our dirt was a lot rockier than we guessed it would be. We planted about twenty trees in our first hour using the dibble bars. We did the math on how long it would take to plant 500 trees at that rate, and immediately went back home for the auger. When using it, we were able to loosen the soil and then come behind with the planting bar to easily firm it up with no air pockets around the roots at a rate of about sixty per hour--much faster. It still took us all of four days straight of hard work, but the trees are now in the ground. And it may have taken weeks had UPS checked their labels more carefully. We are thankful for hitches and for whoever Unknown is, and we are most thankful that our first crop of trees has been planted and our farm has officially begun.
Click here to see our FULL planting day video!