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Getting treed at the farmette

It's a rainy, mucky day at the farmette today. Not terribly warm - but slightly warmer than yesterday, when we were up at the crack of frickin' dawn, putting on three layers of clothes and racing to get to the Arbor Day tree sale put on by our local conservation authority. Last year, we were laggards and some of the trees we wanted were sold out by the time we got there - so we thought we'd beat the crowds this time. Wrong.

The sale has turned into a gigantic event with hundreds of eager tree-lovers from all over looking for bargains and to do something beneficial for their properties and Mother Nature. It's held just south of Hanover at the Sulphur Springs Conservation Area. They say the cold sulphur springs produce a constant flow of groundwater at about 27 bathtubs full a minute. It's also mighty whiffy during the dog days of August. But I digress.

We set out shortly after 8 a.m. and by the time we got there, the place was packed. Honestly, it was like the old days of trying to get tickets to a Bowie concert or something. A line-up of bundled-up eager buyers snaked right around the drive shed where the arboreal goodies were being sold.

The organizers have the whole process down to a science. We've been coming for three years, and this one was the slickest. We got order forms and filled them out while waiting in line.

Then, it was kind of like a human conveyor belt - walking past a huge line of tables with buyers on the outside, order-takers and trees on the inside. We picked up our greenery and paid for it at the end of the line. The Harris-Wilson household scored big for not much coin: 10 larch ($10), 10 hybrid poplars ($20) (the birches were already sold out!) and 10 sumac ($30). We also splurged on a beautiful Colorado blue spruce ($30) to replace the 40-footer that was struck by lightning and had to come down last summer.

While we really aren't fans of lining up for anything, there were interesting gewgaws on display to peruse - like the gigantic Paul Bunyan mail box with an axe for the flag. Friendly people conveyoring with us helped passed the time, too. We chatted amiably with a couple who had come from Belmore - a tiny village west of Mount Forest that attracts about 6,000 people to its maple syrup festival every year. Everyone there seemed to be pretty laid back - we're all tree-huggers after all.

The biting wind did not deter and the good folks who run the show made it really easy for even neophytes who wouldn't know a pine from a spruce from a larch by providing a big identifier board with the species, how they grow and how big they get.

Today, it's planting day - we need to get the bare roots covered in the lovely Grey County soil we have. Looks like we'll have to run between cloudbursts - right now it's coming down pretty steadily.

Arbor Day 2017 is over, but the result of our annual adventure to Sulphur Springs will produce a treed canopy that will grace the farmette for generations to come. It's also nice to know that, thanks to our local C.A., there are hundreds of other Ontario 'farmettes' where the woody plant population just got a big boost.

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