My initial assumption when I saw the tangled pile of limbs from the hollow oak was that I could clean up the debris myself. When I took a second look, calling my logger friend Mark Smith for assistance seemed like a wiser approach. Watching Mark gingerly cutting down the big hanger convinced me that I made at least one good decision today.
Once Mark got the scary parts on the ground, we were able to organize the mess into brush piles and firewood in a couple of hours.
The demise of the grand old tree has reopened my questions about the name of the farm. When I moved here last year, the previous owner indicated that she didn’t mind if I continued using her name for the place, Hollow Oak Farm, since the eponymous tree remained on the premises. I’m typically bad at coming up with names myself, so I was happy to punt, but I never felt entirely at ease with the hand-me-down. I felt a nudge to change it when I learned that she was still running an antiques business under the same name; the nudge grew to a fire under my ass when I learned that she was also in legal jeopardy. Sunday’s windstorm removed the final psychological hurdle.
Naming suggestions have been flowing in for some time — Bill’s wife Lynn suggested Wrong Oak Farm, since the previous owner’s graphics all depicted a white oak (rather than the red oak in the pasture), a species that doesn’t grow at this elevation in New Hampshire. Eric White today suggested Fallen Oak Farm, and I had been toying with Five Sigma Farm in honor of all the unlikely events of the last year, but decided the reference might be too obscure, even for my likely clientele. I think my friend Wendy Pelletier may have come up with the winner in Wilder Brook Farm. The original (European) inhabitants of this piece of land were the Wilder family, arriving around 1791, and I’ve long liked the idea of acknowledging them in any farm name. Wendy, a surveyor by training, showed me a 1905 map of this area that identified the little stream on the west side of the pastures as Wilder Brook, and it felt like just the right reference to the history and geography of the place. Barring any late-night misgivings or loud complaints from my readers, I think Wilder Brook Farm is it.