Tree planting near power lines

These are not universal rules. These are based on our area provider: East Central Energy in Cambridge, Minnesota:

Selecting the Right Tree to Plant
Planting adjacent to overhead power lines

You can help minimize tree-related outages and ensure reliable electric service for the future by choosing the right species of trees. Consider the trees’ mature height and crown spread, especially when planting adjacent to overhead power lines. Avoid planting directly underneath power lines. Make sure any tree planted within 20 feet of neighborhood power lines is a variety that will grow to a mature height of 15 feet or less. Small trees such as flowering Techny arborvitae, dogwood or nannyberry are ideal for these locations.

Plant taller trees farther away to ensure they can’t grow into power lines. At distances of 20 to 50 feet, plant trees that grow to a height of 40 feet or less.

If you want to plant a tree that grows tall, such as a maple, oak, pine or spruce, make sure it’s at least 50 feet from the nearest residential overhead lines.

When you select trees, consider how you plan to use the site, as well as area safety needs.

Download Plant Wisely brochure for more information.

Tree Planting Guide

Tips for safe planting around pad-mounted transformers

  • The minimum distance required when planting near pad-mounted transformers is 3 feet of space on sides and back of transformer and 10 feet of space in front of the transformer (padlock side).
  • Remember the transformer must be accessible for service at all times.
  • Select plants that are easily maintained and suitable for the site.
  • Allow plants sufficient growing room.
  • Do not allow plantings to grow over the transformer.
  • Do not change grade levels around pad-mounted transformers.

Planting for energy conservation

By planning a well-landscaped yard, you can have a real impact on your home heating and cooling costs.

Deciduous trees planted to the west and east of your home will help keep it cool in the summer and allow solar benefits in the winter. Trees function as natural air conditioners. As water is drawn from the ground to the leaves, water vapor is released, cooling the surrounding air. Evergreen trees along the north side can reduce the cooling effects of winter winds.

Download the “Save Energy with Trees” guide provided by the Minnesota Department of Commerce Energy Information Center for more information.

   Diagram source: Minnesota Department of Commerce Energy Information Center

Whether you’re looking for more summer shade, an effective windbreak or just to enhance the beauty of your property, start by selecting the right tree for your location. Consult with your local nursery, or local Soil Water Conservation District (SWCD) office or your county agricultural extension agent. If your planting area has power lines near by or if you have any questions, call the toll-free number below to reach our Forestry Services Staff, or feel free to contact us via email with your concerns or inquiries.

Trees or Vegetation Questions – 1-866-293-9068

Tree Owner’s Manual
Tree Library

Call before you dig

To locate underground utilities contact:
Gopher State One Call: (Minnesota) 1-800-252-1166 or 811 two business days ahead.
Digger’s Hotline: (Wisconsin) 1-800-242-8511 or 811 three business days ahead.

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How I accidentally bought a pig

There is an exotic pet auction that is held in Pierz, Minnesota in the spring. Day one of the auction is hooved animals. We had heard that you could get lambs at a good price which is why we (hubby and I, boy child and his friend) were driving into Pierz that Friday at 10:30am.

The lot was full and we were nervous. None of us had ever gone to an auction. We were not certain how to proceed. We looked around outside at the few pens we could see and then entered what appeared to be a small diner. A door through the diner led to a very crowded arena. There was clearly no space to sit, plus there was an $8 per person entry fee. We reconveened in the diner area. We did not have the cash I had wanted to bring, and now this fee on top of everything.

We had left home with a plan, and suddenly everything felt up in the air. Do we go in? Is the $32 worth it (4 people x 8)? We only needed sheep and I only wanted to spend $60 out of the farm account on them. Was this going to hinder the number of lambs we could buy?

We decided to pull extra cash, then we settled in to wait. We ate doughnuts and had coffee, and waited. A few people left, and twice as many went in, and still they were working through cattle. We played a few phone games, chatted with others, waiting. The boys were hungry again. Quite a few people came out and my hubby went in to find us seats. The boys finished their chili (we had been waiting long enough that they were hungry again). In we went. And sat. The room had cleared out because they had fencing sections to auction off. And when they finally came back in they were still auctioning off stuff – horse tack. Item by item. They boys were restless; we were restless. It was late and we hadn’t seen anything we wanted to even consider bidding on. When they finally brought out the minidonkeys and minihorses I was desperate to get something. But they all went for more than $60. It was nearly 3pm. We were debating the value of staying.

Then they brought out the pigs, mostly potbellies and most were going for $10-25. The hubby, perhaps jokingly said you couldn’t beat that price for bacon. I couldn’t help myself. It was such a small amount. I bid and won a potbelly male. Then we tried on a few feeder pigs for friends who want to raise them, but the price and bidding went so fast we couldn’t get them. But then they brought out this large and ugly potbelly boar. He was bigger than the rest. From where we sat I thought he might be around 100 pounds. I went for it. Cheap pork is great. Right?

Finally they brought out this beautiful bottle lamb. Tiny and black. His price went up so fast we didn’t stand a chance. The second lamb was much the same, plus I thought there would be more lambs coming out next, but then they switched to goat bottle babies.

Boy child desperately wanted one of the first ones out, but by the time hubby and I had discussed it, we had missed our chance. Boy child was so tired and overwhelmed he started sobbing. We bought the next baby boy without really thinking about it. A cute Nubian Alpine cross (my guess). We then proceeded to bid here and there on the ones we liked the colors of, forgetting about spending limits and why we really were there. It was exciting and overwhelming. Finally one came out that we really wanted. A pretty dark colored Alpine or Toggenburg cross. We won the bid. Last one. So we went to check out, uncertain how many goats we had purchased, and completely missing the sheep.

I was worried that I had overspent the cash we had withdrawn and that we had purchased more than we should have. I went to checkout and they had only 2 pigs and 1 goat for us so far. I thought I had purchased at least 2 more goats and I wasn’t sure what prices I had agreed to. I would raise my hand when it was at $5, but by the time the auctioneer had seen me the bid was up to $15 or more.

They were only able to find 1 other complete bid for us. Fortunately. We had purchased 2 pigs and 2 goats and the total only came to $67. Not what we had set out to do, but we felt content. But then I saw him. The boar pig we had purchased was a monster. We had planned to buy lambs. We had the truck and a large dog kennel to transport him. We brought the kennel in, we wrestled the boar until we had him mostly in the kennel, but he didn’t fit, he was too big, and he broke the kennel in the process and bruised the helper.

We had to leave him behind and make plans to return the following day. 10 minutes into the drive we pulled over and debated just forfeiting him. I was feeling a little buyers remorse. $12.50 for such a large pig was a great price, but this meant driving back to get him in the trailer, and was the time and energy and gas worth it. The day had lasted much longer than expected and the goat babies were so cute. Did we really need the pigs?

We have a butcher appointment for him in 2 weeks.


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Poultry farmers can process and sell up to 1000 birds per year without a license. The processing must be done on the farm and under sanitary conditions. The birds must be sold directly to customers from the farm premises. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture requires that operators desiring to sell under this exemption be registered. There is no fee and no inspection will be conducted unless a complaint is received.

Poultry farmers can process and sell up to 20,000 birds per year without a license, if they have an inspected and approved on-farm slaughter facility. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture requires that operators desiring to sell under this exemption be registered. There is no fee. An inspection will be conducted.

Form to register as an exempt poultry producer

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Custom-exempt Slaughter and Processing

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In some areas, inspected slaughter is not available either from USDA or state equivalent plants. Another option that farmers can use is sale of live animals followed by custom-exempt processing. There are a number of restrictions and requirements with this method, but many farmers use it successfully.

With custom-exempt processing, the farmer must sell live animals. Farmers can sell an animal to more than one customer, but an animal must not be slaughtered and processed until the entire animal is sold. Verifying the sale of whole, live animals becomes complicated if an animal is divided among many customers. The MDA Dairy and Food Inspection Division recommends the following guidelines for sale of animals for custom processing:

  • Sell quarters, halves or wholes of beef and bison animals and of large Cervidae animals such as elk.
  • Sell halves or wholes of hogs, sheep, goats, and smaller Cervidae animals.

The MDA Dairy and Food Inspection Division recommends that farmers have a system to track animals and verify sale of live animals. Animals should be ear-tagged or otherwise identified so that customers can make their choice. With custom-exempt processing a customer’s choice of an animal substitutes for official inspection at the time of slaughter, so farmers must offer customers the opportunity to select their own animals. Customers should be given a form to sign stating that they selected a particular animal, or that they declined to select and instead authorized the farmer to select an animal for them. View Sample Form.

Farmers should sell live animals by live weight. Farmers who do not have livestock scales available can take a payment from customers before slaughter, and then base the final price on hanging weight of the carcass.

Farmers can arrange slaughter and processing for their customers. However, customers pay the farmer for the animal and pay the processor separately for the processing. Farmers should not handle customer payments to custom-exempt processors.

Customers should pick up their own processed meat. Farmers can do occasional delivery to customers who are unable to pick up their own.

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a new Leaf for Lent

leaf   We are creating a new “show”. A transformation show. A combination of several of our favorite makeover shows.

Each participant will take 6 things they want to change in their lives. They will list them easiest to hardest (like DR does with debts). Small goals that are easily accomplished first. Slowly building confidence and drive toward the hardest goals.

Nightly journal entries on video preferred, but written is good too. Before and after photos.

We’ll also try out some new methods, products, and ideas. Or maybe some old fashioned ideas as well. Keeping track of it all for posterity and inspiration for others.