Saying Goodbye to the Farmhouse Maple

Age and disease have taken their toll on the large sugar maples of Barstow Lane.

We have made the difficult decision to take them down before they fall and cause damage to our homes – or worse, to family members, farm visitors, or farm pets. Cutting down a tree – especially these impressive specimens – is not something we take lightly. Barstow’s Longview Farm used to be home to a saw mill where we harvested all of our own lumber for farm buildings and projects (much of it off of the Mount Holoyke Range before it was a State Park). The trees marking our homes, however, are landmarks of the barnyard and hold a very special place in our hearts.

The old farmhouse sugar maple is gnarled yet hardy. It’s monumental trunk and branches have provided decades of shade for family meetings on the porch with lemonade and reunions on picnic tables in the yard. Consider this tree’s history – at least six generations of Barstow’s have climbed and swung from it’s limbs, jumped into piles of leaves  come autumn, and watched winter sunsets through a veil of branches and twigs.

David Barstow recalls a storm as a child that took a huge limb off, leaving an enormous hole in the tree. “It’ll heal” neighbor Mr. Piper told him. And it did. Gazing up at the tree from it’s base, you can see a number of knots of branches now gone. It’s been imperfect and beloved for, our best guess, 150 years.

This maple has seen Barstow’s Longview Farm transition from crops to dairy, from hand milking to a milking parlor, from parlor to robots, it’s seen the grand opening of Barstow’s Dairy Store and Bakery, and the installation of our anaerobic digester.

Three trees will come down at Barstow’s Longview Farm in the coming week. We ask for your caution when traveling on Barstow Lane. Please feel welcome to take photos of the farmhouse maple. We’ve tried to document it the best we could and regret not snagging a few seedlings from this spring. The removal of this tree was not in the initial 2020 plan, but as a safety concern it is now a high priority. A new tree will be planted in it’s place – as shade and as a continuation of it’s legacy.

We welcome photos, paintings, or memories you have of this tree as we collectively mourn it’s loss at

I’ll sign off with a poem about an important tree by Wendell Berry

The Sycamore
In the place that is my own place, whose earth
I am shaped in and must bear, there is an old tree growing,
a great sycamore that is a wondrous healer of itself.
Fences have been tied to it, nails driven into it,
Hacks and whittles cut in it, the lightning has burned it.
There is no year it has flourished in
that has not harmed it. There is a hollow in it
that is its death, though its living brims whitely
at the lip of the darkness and flows outward.
Over all its scars has come the seamless white
of the bark. It bears the gnarls of its history
healed over. It has risen to a strange perfection
in the warp and bending of its long growth.
It has gathered all accidents into its purpose.
It has become the intention and radiance of its dark face.
It is a fact, sublime, mystical and unassailable.
In all the country there is no other like it.
I recognize in it a principle, an indwelling
the same as itself, and greater, that I would be ruled by.
I see that it stands in its place, and feeds upon it,
and is fed upon, and is native, and maker.

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