John & Maureen Childears of Northern Lincoln County, Nebraska

ChildearsIn 1992, John & Maureen Childears purchased farmland in northeast Lincoln County. That same year, they repaired the 1954 irrigation well (concrete casing) and repaired/replaced two pivot systems. In the spring of 1993, two pivot corners (Valentine Sand) were planted to trees and shrubs, with fabric mulch for the trees but not the shrubs. These plantings were assisted, guided, and cost-shared by the Twin Platte Natural Resources District. In addition, one corner was placed in a 10 year contract with the Nebraska Game and Parks. This corner included seeding to warm season grasses and native wildflowers, Rocky Mountain Juniper, and a variety of shrubs. Both 1993 and 1994 were very wet years. Plenty of rain and two hand weedings each year resulted in an excellent survival rate. However, the shrub survival without mulch was only two-thirds successful.

The second 1993 corner utilized Juniper, Ponderosa Pine, Jack Pine, and Honey Locust with mulch. This corner included Brome grass, so the shrub planting without mulch had little success. It was also proven that Whitetail deer (dearly) love to pull Ponderosa Pine from the earth and place them (gently) on the mulch. They also enjoy destroying any young tree during mating season. Missing trees were replanted by hand for several years resulting in nearly a 100% stand. After 16 years, the original trees are now about 15 foot tall.

From 1993 through 2000, free trees from the Nebraska Arbor Day Foundation and from the Nebraska Game & Parks were hand planted. These trees were used to fill in older, existing windbreaks. In 1998 with assistance from sons Jarid and wife Pam and Justin and wife Ashley, a new windbreak was established north of the buildings. A good, but less successful result was obtained in spite of the mulch for water conservation and weed competition.

This site included very soft sands, and an over-population of both cottontail rabbits and voles. Many hand replants have been necessary. For several years, individual trees have been planted with hand installed mulch to fill in older windbreaks that protect the buildings. In 2003, another pivot corner was planted to Junipers in a three row triangle, including fabric mulch.

Again rabbits and voles have caused a significant amount of hand replanting. This corner was planted in the Pheasants Forever program administered by the Twin Platte NRD. In 2007, two multi-row windbreaks were planted to Rocky Mountain Juniper. These were placed to provide storm protection in the southeast corner of a calving pasture, and on the west side of the calving barn.

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