Great oaks from little acorns grow…
One of the tops reason we bought our 5-acre property was due to the many beautiful White Oak trees we found here. They add so much beauty and wonderful cooling shade to our property. At first count we found 47 White Oak trees on our property, plus the black oaks, cherries, sassafras, dogwoods and other trees living here.
Sassy stands in the snowy pathway Gene blows the paths to allow us to walk or snowshoe in our woods during the snowy months.
Surely no tree captures our imagination more than an oak. Often living for hundreds of years, oaks support a diversity of life above and below the ground, a rhizosphere community, where a symbiotic relationship exists between diverse species. Native oaks rely on soil microbes and bacteria that produce growth regulators for the tips of new roots, while the new roots create a sort of sugary mucus to feed the bacteria.
The pool shack with chain link fencing sits in front of the pole barn with its blacksmith forge extension.
Oak trees support at least 534 moth and butterfly caterpillars, the most of any native tree. Acorns feed countless creatures and shoot out a tap-root practically the instant they hit the ground. Properly sited, an oak won’t grow stereotypically slowly, but will grow several feet annually and last for generations.
While the acorns of most oaks are edible, many contain a good deal of tannins which render the acorns very bitter to the taste.
You can do as the Native Americans did and leach the tannins out by repeated soaking in fresh water, dumping the water, and re-soaking the acorns. But it is much easier and faster to plant or harvest more edible acorns.
Generally, the white oak family has the sweetest acorns, requiring very little (if any) leaching. These oaks include the white oak, burr oak, chestnut leaf oak, and turkey oak. There are also many selected seedling trees and hybrids developed for human consumption, so if you want to plant some oaks to harvest the acorns for food, you have many different trees available.
Oaks are all beautiful trees to have around and most are hardy from Zones 3-9, depending on the variety. The acorns develop all summer and fall to the ground without a husk when ripe, making picking and shelling very easy. Acorn shells are pliable and thin.
As with all nuts, it’s a good idea to dry the nuts for a week or so in a single layer in a protected environment, so they don’t mold in storage.
This is the view of the woods that I see looking out of our dining room window.
There are some beautiful myths about the oak tree that I love.
In Baltic mythology, the oak is the sacred tree of Latvian Pērkons, Lithuanian Perkūnas and Prussian Perkūns. Pērkons is the god of Thunder and one of the most important deities in the Baltic pantheon.
In Celtic mythology, it is the tree of doors, believed to be a gateway between worlds, or a place where portals could be erected.
In Norse mythology, the oak was sacred to the thunder god, Thor. Some scholars speculate that this is because the oak, as the largest tree in northern Europe, was the one most often struck by lightning. Thor’s Oak was a sacred tree of the Germanic Chatti tribe. Its destruction marked the Christianisation of the heathen tribes by Saint Boniface.
In Classical mythology, the oak was a symbol of Zeus and his sacred tree. An example is the oracle of Dodona, which in prehistory consisted solely of a holy oak.
In the Bible, the oak tree at Shechem is the site where Jacob buries the foreign gods of his people (Gen. 35:4) . In addition, Joshua erects a stone under an oak tree as the first covenant of the Lord (Josh. 24.25-7). In Isaiah 61, the prophet refers to the Israelites as “Oaks of Righteousness”.
In Slavonic mythology, the oak was the most important tree of the god Perun.
The acorn, the seed of the oak tree, is the universal symbol of patience, endurance and well-earned bounty. In folk art, carved acorns are commonly used to decorate furniture and other objects.
This is the cedar sign I had handmade and carved for Gene one year for Christmas.
The acorn is the image I picked for our logo when we first moved here and opened The Whit Oak Studio & Gallery and the White Oak Blacksmith Forge. I am working on our acorn logo this winter and hope to incorporate it into my blog soon. Stay tuned!
Small House Homesteader, Donna