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2008 Barton County Bankers Windbreak Award--David and Leslie Leroy

Kansas

"I wish we would have planted them when we first moved there," says David Leroy about the home and livestock windbreaks they planted in 1992. David and Leslie Leroy, rural Great Bend, are the 2008 Barton County Windbreak Award winners. This award is sponsored by the Kansas Bankers Association and the banks of Barton County.

The Leroy farmstead is about 10 miles west of Great Bend and they have lived there since 1977, when they were first married. They purchased it in 1991. The trees were planted in 1992 and 1993. They planted more than 300 eastern red cedars in two rows, some north and west of the home and some several hundred feet to the northwest as a calving shelter.

After being on the "sunny side" of a great number of shelterbelts, I shouldn't be surprised by the great reduction in wind velocity and how much warmer it feels on the south side. However, as I moved from behind the trees to get a photo from the north side, my comments changed from--how nice it felt that afternoon to "man, that wind is cold."

It was a family project for the Leroys as their two daughters, Bonnie, who now attends college at Fort Hays, and Katie, who is married and lives in Illinois, were 4 and 10 years old at the time. They not only helped plant them but carried water to them the first couple of years.

The trees were planted with cooperation from the Natural Resources Conservation Service which provided technical assistance and the Barton County Soil Conservation District which provided cost share. The trees were ordered from the Barton County Extension Office through the Kansas Forest Service.

If you remember 1993 as the year that the Missouri and Mississippi River had massive floods and that Tuttle Creek Reservoir and other Kansas lakes let water out of the spillway for the first time ever, you know it was wet. So wet, they couldn't use a mechanical tree planter and had to use a shovel. David feared the tight mud around the trees would cause death, but most lived.

They believe one of the keys to survival of the trees was using the weed barrier fabric to keep weeds under control to save moisture. In one spot, where they didn't use the weed barrier, most of the trees died.

The Leroys are repeat winners, having won the soil conservation award for their farming operation in 1999. Their crops consist of a sizable alfalfa acreage along with wheat milo and soybeans. They also have 70 registered Angus cows that they calve in the fall and sell as purebred breeding stock with Mid-Kansas Angus Breeders.

David is on the Board of Directors of the Great Bend Co-op and serves on the Barton County Fair Association Board. He also is on the board for Clarence Township and has served as president of the Barton County Chamber of Commerce Agriculture Committee, which sponsors Kids Ag Day, for three years.

Reduced heating bills, reduced wind noise, comfort, and added wildlife are just a few of the reasons the Leroys are glad they planted their windbreak and hope to enjoy it for many years to come.



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