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Out On The Mudline

Chestnut Trees No Longer Seen In Our Forests

By W. P. Sissell

Hodge Podge

  My grandson, Parker, is quite a young man. After high school he went through a two year John Deer mechanics program. Today he is working out of “his/our” own shop on other people’s farm machinery. A couple of years ago Nannete and I took Parker on the tour of past farm areas that I will talk about today. Just a couple of weeks ago, when I asked about what he did that weekend his answer was that he completed the tour that we did not finish with him those several years ago.

“Porcupine Eggs”

  In our office at Northwest, Chad Williams and I had several Chestnut burrs. If you are not familiar with this fruit  of the Chestnut tree it is a round burr, ball, about two inches in circumference not nice, or easy, to handle without good gloves. When the fruit ripens the burr opens and gives a couple of chestnut. We, Chad and I, often referred to those burrs in our office as porcupine eggs (always correcting the statement, of course).

  Some of the last native Chestnut trees found in this area were in those hills on the McFarland, Herman Nolen, Cottoner, then Sissell place. Importing Chestnuts from China brought Chinese Chestnut blight. At one time the chestnuts were a major part of our countries eastern forest cover. Today that is no longer the case for you do not find the Chestnut in our forests.

  As those Chestnut trees in our woodlands succumbed to the blight, Dad had them cut and split into fence posts. We used the last of these in fencing the northwest quarter section of Dry Bayou Farm in the delta. I inject here that Dave Folson was our fence post—wood cutting man. Dave was allergic to any kind of dust. When all the rest of the hands went to the hayfield Dave could not go because of his hay fever. Dad saved that time of the year for Dave to cut and split posts or heater and/or stove wood (for the kitchen stove). Dave wanted to work and earn this extra money. He worked alone, or with a young boy to rick the wood. Dave was paid by the cord.

  I  might say here that Dave was one of the men whom Dad used to teach me how to use a cross cut saw (the other was Joe Stribbling), along with wedge or wedges. I’ve got one of those hand powered cross cut saws hanging in the rafters of our deck today. Dave, as well as the other men on the place, felt slighted if they were not called on to work—no matter what the work.

  That trip with Parker, several years ago, was never completed for I could not get the three wheeler through the growth at the edge of the woods of Spring Hollow. The trip was in the middle of summer when the growth was heavy. Now Parker said the growth was sparse and he had no trouble going right on up the path. The object of that trip was to show Parker the enormous rocks scattered over the landscape. These rocks are opposite a cliff above the spring that runs year ‘round. As a boy I climbed almost to the top of that cliff, forgetting about the rattlers found in that area. Now Parker wants to take Nannette and me to see the rocks.  

  Do have a great week—enjoy the cool weather. Planting time is here for we are seeing corn fields coming to life already, and that warm—no hot—weather will soon be here.

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