The California Juniper Spring Dig
Please note that in order to participate in a Club Dig on the Hansen Ranch you must be a paid member of the Club and have signed the Insurance Waiver. Also, be aware that digging trees in the Sierra Mountains involves dangerous activities including driving on unimproved dirt roads, climbing on steep and dangerous terrain, and possible encounters with snakes and other predatory animals in the wild countryside. A very helpful Article was written by Jerry McNey providing first time tree searchers with valuable information including what tools are required, what clothing is important, and other hints regarding how to prepare, and what to do while there and then how to care for your tree after you get it home so that it will survive to become a beautiful show tree.
Let's Dig California Juniper
Shovel Long pointed posthole shovel is heavy and digs well. Others use smaller and lighter shovels. Because you're usually on your knees, a short handle works best.
Mattock or Pick There are several small or lightweight mattocks or picks that will help open up hard ground.
Lopper A lopper that can cut branches 1 inch or more thick is best. Some have a ratchet or gear that gives added leverage to the cutting blades.
Tree Saw A folding tree saw is needed to cut heavier branches and the taproots beneath the tree. Some folks take two; one for the tree and one that may get dull in the dirt when cutting roots.
Wet Sphagnum Moss. Wrap the moss around the exposed roots when the tree is out of the ground. The wet moss is soaked with vitamin B1 or Superthrive® and carried in ziplock bags. It's best to prepare the moss before you leave home.
Sphagnum Wrap Cloth strips of burlap, old tee shirts, 2-inch to 4-inch wide Mylar self sticking plastic wrap. The Mylar can be found at U-Haul® in the moving supplies. A roll of black electrical tape wrapped around the cloth or Mylar will help keep it in place.
The first four items get the tree out of the ground; the sphagnum and wrap will help keep it alive until you can get it home. The following items will make it easier and reduce the pain and sore muscles that may accompany the dig.
Backpack With all this stuff, you need something to carry it in and to get the tree back to your vehicle. This is not a book bag borrowed from the kids. You need a pack with an aluminum frame, shoulder straps, and a hip belt to distribute the load. Plastic garbage bags might work, and they might not.
Rope or Bungi cords Often the best way to get the tree back is to tie it onto the backpack.
Hand pruners Trim the small branches and open up the structure of the tree.
Spray Bottle Wet the roots while digging and wet the tree foliage when back to your vehicle. A little bit of B1 or Superthrive® wouldn't hurt.
Toilet paper Besides the obvious, use it to wrap around a branch on a tree that you may want to dig, while you're looking for your masterpiece. It will help you relocate it and will blow away, if you find a better one and don't go back.
Miscellaneous Things that you may want to add are extra garbage bags to wrap around the roots; gloves to protect from nicks and scratches; a steel digging bar for very hard ground; a tarp to cover trees in an open bed pickup; a sieve and 5-gallon bucket to collect DG.
Now for personal comfort. You'll need the right transportation, food, clothing, and even some first-aid gear.
Transportation A good reliable vehicle. The sites are some distance from a garage and telephone. Don't plan to rely on a cell phone. There is not always good coverage. Good tires, a shovel, extra water for the car, and perhaps a chain or tow cable in the event you need to be pulled out. Four-wheel drive is usually not required, but it may save some walking and has increased reliability in soft sand.
Food Take a lunch. You know what you like, but if you throw it in your pack, it should be durable. And take some extra to share with friends during lunch. Throw some snack bars, apples, or oranges in the backpack, and a quart or two of water. After _ hour swinging a shovel, some drinking water goes a long way. A gallon of water per person for the day is suggested.
Clothing If you don't like the weather, wait a little while. This is the desert in winter. Take clothing that can be layered; sweater, sweatshirt, fleece or wool may be best, particularly if it rains. A windbreaker or parka to cut the cold wind, and a hat--it will help keep you warm all over. If rain is predicted, step it up a notch and add a raincoat, gloves, and even a dry change is reasonable.
Boots Some will come in tennis or walking shoes, others will have some level of boots. Those with boots will probably have fewer problems with stone bruises, footing on rocky trails, and walking across slopes. By definition, tennis shoes are meant for paved areas; so are most walking shoes.
First Aid There have been very few accidents on the digs, a skinned knee or cut, sunburn and windburn, perhaps a sprained ankle. This level of injury doesn't require a corpsman and his equipment. It does take common sense, some band-aids, disinfectant, an elastic wrap, some tape, sunscreen, and someone who knows how to use them. You can put these things in the pocket of your cargo pants right next to your whistle and compass, and they are always with you.
Where are you? Don't be out of reach from someone. Notice where the highest peak is, the sun, and if you have a compass, the direction of the road where you parked. Is it trending north? To the south? Is it on a ridge? Can I see the car from where I am? Take a whistle; it's louder than your voice in the wind, and the sound carries; be aware of where you and your friends are digging. This is what a reasonable person would do.
Well, after you have been on a dig or two, you may want to change this list, add some, delete some, but you will have the experience to guide you, and you can share it with your friends when they go on their first dig.
You're Finally There, Now to Dig
We Have it Home