January 20, 2018

Hurricane Irene’s Aftermath At Wolgast Tree Farm

It’s been over a week since Hurricane Irene hit New Jersey and although many areas are still dealing with serious problems caused by the storm, and now even more rain, Wolgast Tree Farm was very fortunate to come through virtually unscathed. 

Honeybees bringing nectar & pollen back to the hive after Hurricane Irene.

Our bee hives stayed upright and “the girls” (worker honeybees are all female) were out and about looking for pollen and nectar by 10:30 am Sunday the day after the storm.  

To our amazement, none of the trees that line our driveway blew over.  

Cutting a blown over tree for firewood

Some of our maple trees that we’ve tapped in the past to make maple syrup lost many branches, and one had the top broken off completely, so syrup production will likely be lower in 2012.  

One cherry tree by our house had blown over, but missed power lines and other structures so it wasn’t a big deal.  We cut it up for firewood.

White pine seedling with "donut hole" around its base.

So far, the only storm-related problem with our Christmas trees involves the seedlings we planted this past spring.  The heavy rains saturated the soil and that combined with the severe winds to whip the seedlings around which created “donut holes” around the base.  These openings are a problem because the roots are more likely to lose moisture when its dry, and during the colder months the roots can be exposed to freezing.  Both can stress the seedlings and hamper growth.  We’ll need to walk the rows and check each seedling for any gaps and close the ones we find. 

Rains from Hurricane Irene caused our Shiitake mushroom logs to fruit.

One tiny positive that came from Irene was that the rain she brought caused many of the logs we inoculated last year with shiitake mushroom spawn to fruit.  Sautéed in butter and garlic, or prepared a zillion other ways, shiitake mushrooms

Headed for the frying pan!

are a tasty treat. Having produced them ourselves brings a sense of satisfaction, and puts a little twist on the adage of making lemonade when life hands you lemons.   

Wolgast Tree Farm feels very lucky to have made it through Hurricane Irene with so little damage, and we keep in our thoughts the many others who had, and in many cases continue to have, great difficulties as a result of the storm.  We hope everyone is safe and that life gets back to normal as soon as possible.

Battening Down The Hatches And The Bees!

Like everyone else across New Jersey, we’ve spent the last few days battening down the hatches preparing for Hurricane Irene at Wolgast Tree Farm.  We’ve stocked up on supplies, made sure emergency equipment is in good working order, and done our best to secure things that could become flying hazards in the impending winds.  We don’t think the severe winds and rain will present a big problem for our Christmas trees (unless a non-Christmas tree or branch gets blown onto them), but our bees are another matter.  The hives are pretty heavy, but the predicted severe winds could topple them over and expose the bees and brood to rain and wind which would likely kill the colonies. 

To guard against this Cathy used ratchet straps to help make sure all the individual hive bodies in each colony would stay together in the event the wind is able to blow them over.  If the winds are able to knock over the hives, the bees won’t be happy about it, but they’ll do better than if all the hive bodies flew apart. 

Now all we can do is settle in for the storm and hope our precautions were enough.  Hopefully we and the rest of the east coast will be able to come through the storm unscathed.  Let’s all keep our fingers crossed!