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My fenceposts attract trees  RSS feed

 
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I visit my property once every six weeks and all the creatures know that it's safe to hang around.

In the early days of my fence building (cattle country) I used wood posts for the corners. ( now it's t-posts all the way). This last trip I noticed that the crows/ravens are using my tall posts as a perch while dining on a craw full of juniper seeds. The left over seeds are spit onto the ground surrounding the post.

N.E. Arizona, no trees for miles, but my fence posts are providing a perch for birds to spread seeds.

I am changing the landscape just by putting up posts.

As soon as the ground defrosts I will put up some posts I have lying around.
 
pollinator
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Location: Maine, zone 5
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Wow, great observation Kevin.  Maybe time putting the perches out until the season of a target fruit of choice is ripe to favor getting those trees.  After you get the tree you can move the perch and get more!  Brilliant!!!
 
pollinator
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I noticed the same several years ago. I had read a book that said to plant trees where they want to be. This made me observe where they are currently. Its easy to see when driving down country roads in my area.

After adding a fence/ paddock for sheep, my first and only wild blackberry plant came to being. I hope the whole fence becomes a row of them.
 
pollinator
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I've seen this myself.  Only around here, it's Brazilian Pepper trees that seem to planted by the birds.  And I hate those trees -- invasive and tough to get rid of once established for a couple of years.

But those birds are crapping on that spot and bringing fertility (which is why those seeds may be germinating so well).  I find that the birds love to fly into the garden and land on top of stakes/posts that are holding up tomatoes or other plants.  So little poop by poop, they are bringing nitrogen into the garden.  I don't mind pulling up the occasional Pepper tree (easy enough) because I know that it was delivered by one of my little flying fertilizer factories.  They eat bugs, deliver nitrogen, and plant a tree --- can't beat that.
 
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This is mind-blowing... I love this kind of discoveries
 
kevin stewart
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Originally my thought was that there could not be seed spread by birds because there were no trees with seeds nearby. Maybe next trip I'll measure the distance but I'd guess at eight miles (as the crow flies) to the nearest juniper mature enough to seed.

I don't  know why they come to me, maybe because I don't have dogs barking, maybe because so often there's no one there.

This year will be our fifth year of drought. Winter is already pretty dry. I save the seeds and will plant them in pots this spring.
 
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This is why while growing a food forest you never protect from or exclude birds from their share. All get to partake and the land will prosper.
 
gardener
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It's a great observation.  I have noticed many times that this is the case in our local fence lines.  Not only the posts, but along wire fences; birds perch and shit out seeds.  It's a great place to find good seedlings to transplant elsewhere. 

 
Originally my thought was that there could not be seed spread by birds because there were no trees with seeds nearby. Maybe next trip I'll measure the distance but I'd guess at eight miles (as the crow flies) to the nearest juniper mature enough to seed.

I don't  know why they come to me, maybe because I don't have dogs barking, maybe because so often there's no one the


Birds might come to the fence line because it gives them a good view off the ground from a stationary position.  This is a much different view then what they have when they are flying.  Some birds don't like to land on the ground much at all, and the fence line might be the only spot to land for them between juniper trees that are miles apart.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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A bit of context for the bird habitat stuff I mentioned in my previous post can be found in This Toby Hemenway Link
 
pollinator
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If you drive along country roads and state highways out in the Great Plains, you'll see hedge rows as if man had come along and planted them in these neat quarter sections, half sections and mile squares. Fence lines in the Great Plains (as well as riparian zones) were some of the rare perch places for birds. After more than a hundred years of fencing, many of the trees have grown quite large. Many a hedge apple (Osage orange) tree, mulberry tree and other species grew up after having being planted by birds along fence lines and not being mowed or weeded out by ag equipment due to the fence being in place. Much poison ivy, as well.







Lots of habitat, lots of biodiversity as well. I know many like to keep their fences clean. Maybe, it's not necessary.  Just a thought.
 
gardener
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Lack of trees in Kevin's location, is presumably about lack of precipitation. Once established, trees and bushes become snow and dew traps, which effectively raises the precipitation in that area. Rock piles also trap dew and snow. They also protect the soil from direct sunlight. It makes sense to place debris near the fence line, where a natural hedgerow can develop. If posts puncture hardpan, the edge could provide a route for young trees to follow.
 
Marco Banks
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Not to be a contrarian, but from my experience in Kansas where Osage Orange (hedge apples) are commonly used as shelter belts, they aren't planted by birds but by the farmers to keep the fields from blowing.  WAY back in the day, they'd run a single bottom plow behind a team of horses right along their property line and turn over a single "flip" of soil.  Then they'd walk along and drop a hedge apple in every 10 steps, and kick the dirt over the top.  Two years later, they'd have an 8 foot tree and the makings of a boundary-defining shelter belt.

I remember a couple of the 80-year old farmers taking about it when I was a kid (back in the late 60's and early 70's.  Their grandfathers had busted the sod and planted the first wheat crop, only to see the dust storms blow through and blow everything away.  So the widespread use of Osage Orange as the most popular tree for Kansas shelter belts became the norm.  Thousands of miles of these were planted in the 30's and 40's. 

 
Dan Grubbs
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Great note, Marco. I may have overstepped my generalization when I mentioned Osage Orange in my post. Love the visuals of a farmer walking along dropping seed and kicking soil over the top.
 
pollinator
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Kevin, maybe take some of your extra posts and nail them cross-wise on top of some of the existing posts.  An old 2x4 would work as well.  Then you have a spot for a couple dozen birds to perch, rather than just the ones that can fit on the top of the post, so more trees.

BTW, thanks for the great idea.  I'll be adding posts now too :)
 
gardener
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kevin stewart wrote:Originally my thought was that there could not be seed spread by birds because there were no trees with seeds nearby. Maybe next trip I'll measure the distance but I'd guess at eight miles (as the crow flies) to the nearest juniper mature enough to seed.

I don't  know why they come to me, maybe because I don't have dogs barking, maybe because so often there's no one there.

This year will be our fifth year of drought. Winter is already pretty dry. I save the seeds and will plant them in pots this spring.



The birds are probably coming to your place for bugs they find in your pasture.

In my area the birds eat the juniper berries and poop out the seeds in a nice fertilizer package, this goes for black berries, junipers and muscadine vines along with poison ivy and poison oak.

Redhawk
 
pollinator
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Marco Banks wrote:Not to be a contrarian, but from my experience in Kansas where Osage Orange (hedge apples) are commonly used as shelter belts, they aren't planted by birds but by the farmers to keep the fields from blowing.  WAY back in the day, they'd run a single bottom plow behind a team of horses right along their property line and turn over a single "flip" of soil.  Then they'd walk along and drop a hedge apple in every 10 steps, and kick the dirt over the top.  Two years later, they'd have an 8 foot tree and the makings of a boundary-defining shelter belt.

I remember a couple of the 80-year old farmers taking about it when I was a kid (back in the late 60's and early 70's.  Their grandfathers had busted the sod and planted the first wheat crop, only to see the dust storms blow through and blow everything away.  So the widespread use of Osage Orange as the most popular tree for Kansas shelter belts became the norm.  Thousands of miles of these were planted in the 30's and 40's. 



I ordered several thousand Osage Orange seeds that are now in my fridge, and in about 2 months I'll be planting them on my new property to make a deer-proof hedge. Following the example given in the book 'Hedges, windbreaks, shelters and live fences', written in 1900 ( https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/009591947 ), I'll be planting the seeds every 9 inches and then each fall I'll weave the new shoots together so it grows into a living fence. Will be interesting to see how it works out! I was able to buy a pound of seeds for $20-30 which is thousands of seeds.
 
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Nice observation. I've observed that when I dig a hole for trees and leave it for a few days before planting, the rabbits put lots of droppings in the hole. So combine these two observations... dig your fencepost holes, leave them for the rabbits to fertilise, then put your fence posts in for the birds to add their contribution. Double whammy.
 
kevin stewart
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Ha,ha, Todd, that's exactly what I did. Six inch pieces of two by four painted white with a large notch not quite big enough for the top of a t-post that will fit snug with the smack of a hammer. 

I'm talking about big birds, crows or ravens. When you hear one fly overhead in the quiet of the day it sounds like the mother ship is landing. Little birds are fine on barbed wire.

I don't expect impressive growth in my lifetime.
 
pollinator
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What's depressing, to me, is that this sort of thing may never be 'discovered' by many folks because they're too busy killing every living thing that even thinks of encroaching upon their precious clean fencerows.

Near the western edge of our farm is a straight row of maybe half a dozen wild plum trees.  When I first noticed it I found it bizarre, until I realized that they grew along what was once a fence line.  When the originally 80-acre farm was subdivided, the surveyors put the new boundary a few feet to the west and the old cross-fence was (mostly) pulled out.  Anyway, those wild plums, or the original one at least, almost certainly got their via the bowels of a bird.

Wild (feral, really) asparagus can also commonly be found along fencerows.  We've got three spots on our farm with a single asparagus plant each where a fence is or has been.

I don't know for certain if eastern red cedar is spread by birds (though I expect it is) or if it pops up in fencerows simply because it pops up everywhere.  In any case, every one of our fences has its fair share.  Sometimes they're a pain, and I've thinned plenty, but they make a great windbreak, are a secure roosting spot for birds (especially mourning doves, it seems), provide shade for grazing animals, and are generally just plain nice to look at.  As a bonus, we have one old fence in particular whose old wooden posts are mostly rotted out at ground level.  But fear not!  There are enough cedars (and other trees) that have grown up along and through the woven wire that the fence still works as a fence, rotten posts and all.
 
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kevin stewart wrote:N.E. Arizona, no trees for miles, but my fence posts are providing a perch for birds to spread seeds. I am changing the landscape just by putting up posts.



I thought that was common knowledge. Look at any ranch that isn't continually maintained and there will be trees growing on the fence lines. All kinds of birds sit not just on the posts, but also on the fence wires or boards and plant trees.

When I moved to Texas, I asked the realtor if he knew of any places entirely surrounded by trees. The locals call them "scrub" trees, but I don't mind. That is how I found my place when I lived there. I love trees.

 
Gail Gardner
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wayne fajkus wrote:I noticed the same several years ago. I had read a book that said to plant trees where they want to be. This made me observe where they are currently. Its easy to see when driving down country roads in my area.

After adding a fence/ paddock for sheep, my first and only wild blackberry plant came to being. I hope the whole fence becomes a row of them.



Regarding planting trees where they want to be, you can see where water stands by what grows there. When a formerly cleared pasture is not mowed, the trees start growing out from where they already are. In Oklahoma, first the persimmons will grow where water stands after heavy rains or where ponds overflow. Then the pecan trees will grow just beyond that wet spot.

My thought is if you want to grow fruit or nut trees from seed, plant them just out of the shade of the existing trees where the fallen branches and leaves have increased the fertility and there will already be dew and rain dripping off the existing trees.

Regarding poison oak or poison ivy, some horses consider it a delicacy and will go out of their way to eat it. I had a friend who loaned a horse out all the time because he loved to clear out poison oak and ivy. My reading tells me goats are used for the same purpose.
 
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So, we might be neighbors, as the crow flies. 
Junipers aren't good for much, but fence posts, and firewood.  They are extremely good at using up all available water, slow growing unless pruned and watered, but the interesting thing I've found is nearly every Juniper on my property has a Pinion Pine growing out of the middle of it.  I'm trimming back my Junipers in favor of the Pinion Pine, which can grow tall faster for wind break, provide shade where I want it, is much easier to trim, prune, saw, shape, and great on the eyes.  I'm leaving some Junipers where they suit me for wind break, but they are weeds near Vernon and Concho, AZ.  After I put in gutters on just one side of my house and added a water catchment barrel, I have been able to garden and will eventually I'll water some trees and shrubs.  In AZ, most of the water comes quickly, and leaves even faster... I'm hand digging swales, but it's the rain catchment that is making the big immediate difference.  It only took a couple of light rains to fill my 1320 gal. tank, even in the drought... and if you're gardening at altitude, I think you might benefit from some 18% shade cloth.  I had scalded peppers until I tried it.  Good luck to you.
 
kevin stewart
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Pinyon, I've killed about a hundred seedlings, but that was before I started planting trees in November when the trees are going dormant.

I might buy some more this spring but I've had good luck with Arizona cypress and rocky mountain juniper so I might stick to them. I keep them in the greenhouse all summer and plant when it's cold. I have a couple trees on their third winter so this seems to work.

I hand dug many, many yards of swale with no result. Not enough rain. On the other hand a small dam I built is smothered in grasses. I can only dig in the fenced off areas as wandering cows would trample anything I do but as I fence off more I plan on digging small holes everywhere as a way to hold water. For me the problem with swales is that I'm digging up plants to grow more plants.

I bought some bluepoint juniper last October and put them into bigger pots and left them in the greenhouse. This January I finally got them in the ground and I noticed that even with the cold nights they had continued to grow. They were even a little rootbound. When they are taller I will lop off the top, those tall spires would be silly and bent over in the wind.

I'm waiting for the birds to start bringing me Russian olive.
 
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