The Old Oak
November 09, 2017
As I made my way to this old oak tree many things raced through my mind. I asked myself, “Why is this massive tree in this spot?” I began looking for clues. I saw an old stone wall and thought maybe this old oak started growing after the sheep fever had occurred in the 1840s. The farmers farmed sheep and made stone walls that had to be a certain height to keep the sheep in.
Tom Wessel writes in his book, Reading the Forested Landscape, that “these walls had to be four and a half feet tall” so that sheep could not jump over them.
The oldest oaks started growing right after the sheep left; this oak could very well be one of the first. It is difficult to exactly age these oaks because of the rotten cores, but we can estimate oaks are about 140 years old from the information about the sheep fever.
Another thing this big oak tree could serve as is a boundary marker for many things, along with the stone wall that is next to it. When I look at the old oak again and think about all the things it has seen, all the things it’s been through, every storm, every flood, I just admire the history behind the amazing tree.