Face Lift for the Golden K

The Golden K had a bit of a face lift last week.  33 dead pine trees were cut down at their knees.  They never saw it coming.  But we did.

When we bought the property there were already 16 dead pines.  Over the past year – mostly during early spring – another 17 bit the dust.  Bark Beetle dust that is.  The beetles bore their way into the bark of the pines and the pines, after five years of drought, can’t produce enough sap to fend them off.  It’s evident from red dust protruding from the bark instead of sap.  You can almost see the trees dying in front of your eyes.  The death starting at the very top and quickly working its way down to the lowest needles.

Fortunately we still have 107 Pines and plenty of Oaks and Cedars and the 33 now removed pines will hardly be missed in the landscape and organic fabric of the Golden K.

The crew was here for five days and there was a lot of chain saw action to say the least.  Much to Kloe’s chagrin.   When you live in the mountains the sound of chain saws is as natural as the chirping of the birds or cockle-doodle-doing of the roosters.  Kloe has literally grown up listening to chain saw noise. Maybe it was the proximity of the saws cutting down our 33 trees or perhaps some sound beyond our audible spectrum that bothered her.   Whatever it was Kloe was very agitated when the saws were buzzing.  Kali, not so much.  Except for thunder nothing seems to rattle Kali.

Kloe survived the week and The Golden K is better off with the 33 dead 100 foot plus matchsticks.  If you’ve never experienced the sound of a 120 foot tree hitting the ground you are really missing something.  There’s a certain majesty of something that big and heavy hitting the ground with a massive thud and bounce!  On one of the falls I was about 15 feet behind the crew member making the cut.  After it was on the ground he turned around. I told him that I knew he does it all the time but for me it was so awesome to see and hear this massive piece of mother nature hitting the ground.   He grinned and told me that it never gets old for him.  Every time he still feels the rush.


So 33 dead trees and a chunk of change later the Golden K is a safer place.   33 fewer matchsticks in the event of a fire and 33 fewer chances of a giant child of nature falling on our house, or God forbid one of us or The Girls.

So at the end of the day ( a term I dislike but use here any way) our small piece of the forest was thinned for the greater good and as we look out over it, or under it as the case may be, we continue to feel blessed with our romantic perspective of life at 3100 feet.


Boss Lady Holly declaring the job is officially done.

I'm Looking Up

I walk around looking up in the air a lot these days.  With my neck stretched as far back as my spine will allow I walk and  look up at the tall trees.

We have hundreds of trees.  Oak trees, cedars, manzanitas, and pines.  The beauty they bring to the Golden K here within these Sierra Nevada Foothills goes beyond words.  But it’s the pines that cause me to arch my back, stretch my neck and gaze upwards. The pines are terribly stressed from lack of water and crowding.  This makes it hard for them to produce the necessary sap to fend off bark beetles from boring in, reproducing, and ultimately killing the tree.

I spend a lot of time placing hoses with deep watering spouts in the dirt around as many of the pines that I can reach.  We’re fortunate that our irrigation uses well water and I can liberally inject water into the ground in an effort to help the trees stay alive.  We had 14 of the largest pines around the house injected with chemicals that will kill the beetles if they invade the tree.  The success rate is about 95% if the tree is treated before the beetles attack.  It would be cost prohibitive to treat every single tree on the property but it’s also very expensive to have trees removed.   It happens fast.  One day a tree can look healthy with vibrant green needles and the next day you may notice the needles throughout the entire tree fading into a dull grayish green color and ultimately – within a couple of weeks – the tree is burnt toast.

When we bought The Golden K last December we knew there were 15 dead trees that eventually would need to be taken down.  A few weeks ago we noticed four trees with needles dulling.  Upon closer inspection we saw dozens and dozens of holes in the tree with tell tale red boring dust from the bark beetles as far as our eyes could follow up the tree.  These trees are goners so the count is up to 19 that we are aware of.

I walk around our five acres with a combination of awe and wonder at the beauty of it all.  I also walk around with a bit of anxiety and worry that seemingly healthy looking trees may be infected with beetles and I don’t know it yet.  I feel sad when I think about the drought not ending soon enough and the face of the foothills, and The Golden K itself, may look significantly different in just a few years.

So I’m looking up.  Looking up at at the pine needles in the tree tops that soar above the Golden K.  I’m looking up in awe of Mother Nature.  But mostly I’m looking up and praying for rain.


View from The Golden K deck waiting for rain