RicelandMeadows


Time For Another Lumber Project

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December 5, 2016

After a rough couple of weeks at my off farm job, it’s time to sort out the winter projects that we want to complete before maple sugaring time. I, of course, have our seasonal butchering to do, but I also have a few building projects on my list for next year. I walked the white pines looking things over and will be selecting the candidates in the next couple of days.

On some farms, these big pine trees would be considered a nuisance. Here on my farm, I consider them like a savings account. I will select and harvest the ones I need to have them sawed into lumber. I like to have a material list, before cutting. No sense in taking more than I need. Plus, I want to make sure I can get the lengths and widths I desire.

I also choose trees based upon the forest in which they live. I take the crooked ones, the small ones and the crowded ones. I want the little pine forests to be better off for my selective thinning. In this manner, I get two benefits. I get the lumber that I need, while improving my holdings at the same time. It is like adding to my savings account instead of always withdrawing.

Using the horses to skid the logs leaves a very small footprint. I pile the boughs and brush making winter places for small animals to take cover under. I enjoy the work. The horses enjoy working with me and our woodlands improve. That is a pretty good project for the winter months… getting the lumber is just icing on the cake.



Fall Clean Up
November 2, 2016, 9:12 pm
Filed under: November 2016 | Tags: , , ,

fallcleanup

November 2, 2016

Last week and this past Monday, my fencing contractor was here. We changed a couple things in our fence. We added a gate in a spot that I had thought I’d never need. I was wrong. It’s all fixed now. He also replaced the section of fence that got crushed by the big tree. In his equipment line up, he has a brush hog that mounts to the front of his skidsteer.

His machine is a tracked machine, so his footprint is very light. I had him mow a few problem spots that had gotten away from me. They were wet areas that seem to never dry out. The marshy areas make perfect growing conditions for red brush and brambles. The next thing you know it is an impassable pain in the neck! Ed made short work of those areas. I will work to add drainage in the future, but having the vegetation cleared out will help them dry out on their own.

I continue to pick corn. It is going very well. I expect to finish by the weekend. The horses get better with every load. My helpers continue to show up and lend a hand and I am very grateful. We picked 24 rows today. The crib is filling fast and I am finding all sorts of aches and pains….but the fall clean up continues as we clean up the harvest and few problem spots as well.



Wood Working 2016
July 17, 2016, 1:58 pm
Filed under: July 2016 | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Wyoniaalmostgone

July 17, 2016

Well, I’m back at working on the big tree. I have it almost finished now. There are just three big pieces left to go. I will have them worked up over the next week or so. I just need a chainsaw with a three foot bar. Sure, I can do it with my two footer and a whole lot of extra work, but I am content to wait. My friend has the saw, I just need to wait on his schedule.

This was a massive white oak. She was a very old tree.

wyoniatape

Two foot off the ground, the stump measured eight feet, seven inches across. The main trunk is over five feet thick. I have almost everything else cut, split and stacked. This has been an awesome project, cleaning up the wind blown tree. It has supplied the wood for heating two households and the fuel needed for boiling our maple syrup for three years. This year will be that third year. I think they may even be a little left over for next year. One thing for sure, she has given her whole life.

ralphwyonia

Abundance, first with her shade. Then she began to give up acorns for all sorts of wildlife along with her ever growing shade. She had done so for well over 300 years! Even in her death, she still gives of herself. The wood for fuel, one last crop of acorns and the nutrients from the rotting wood of very small branches to the deep roots that held her in place for such a long time, make me say thank you for this grand old matron. I will miss her…



Dam Beavers

dam beavers

March 22, 2016

We manage our woodlands in a three pronged approach. Our first consideration is for for maple syrup production. We open up the canopy for growing sugar maples using a method called “crop tree release”. Other undesirable trees are taken out to provide sunlight and nutrients for the growing maple trees. The trees taken out are used for lumber or firewood.

Our second consideration for our woodlot is for wildlife. We are all hunters, so we try to manage and enhance our white tailed deer and wild turkey numbers. We also look out for small game like squirrels and rabbits, as well as song birds. We don’t eat song birds, but we try to maintain three levels of forest canopy for them. Song birds nest at different heights, so having the three levels enhances their habitat.

The third part of our forestry management plan is for timber production. I don’t see our woods as ever being real valuable due to the species of trees growing there. It will however be a constant source of income over my lifetime. If managed in this way, the next generations will benefit as well. I’m talking about very light harvests generating a thousand dollars a year. The revenue coming mostly from undesirable trees that are removed for reasons listed.

Now, sometimes my best efforts get a set back. I babied the tree in the photo. It was selected and given space to grow, only to have the beavers decide it was a tasty treat. That was last year’s casualty.  A couple years ago, a big wind storm decided which trees would be culled. I worked in the down limbs and tangled mess for quite a while and still the effects from that wind storm can be seen.

dead matron

This big old fallen , long dead hard maple tree was dying when we moved here almost twenty five years ago. I left her stand to put down seed and provide a place for raccoon to live. The area is now littered with hard maple saplings and seedlings. The raccoon palace came crashing down just this spring. The wood is brittle and “punky” with no value for firewood, but the nutrient rich wood will be left to rot and enrich the soil.

Woodlot management is best done with a plan. I had my own, but did get the state forester to walk and talk with me. We agreed on my ideas and put a plan in place that I have been following since we took ownership of the land. My impact is light but the results are huge. Sugar maples are growing everywhere, wildlife co-exists with my farming and every now and then we get a little paycheck from our woodland savings bank.

 



I Got You Covered
June 19, 2015, 10:41 pm
Filed under: June 2015 | Tags: , , ,
Main road culvert finally in place

Main road culvert finally in place

June 19, 2015

I have crossed this small stream for over twenty years. In summer it’s no big deal, because the water level is usually very low. The rest of the time, this area is a mess that I avoid. I tried to place rocks in the streambed where the wheels would go. It was a very short term fix, that didn’t work. I mowed the grass to help the area dry out. This too helped some, but was not a real solution.

I next tried installing a culvert. I messed that job up too. I used a culvert that was too small for the job. I didn’t bury it deep enough. We got a very big rain. The culvert, along with all my hard work, was washed out in an instant. I was not happy, but I did realize that this was a bigger job than I gave it credit. I was in almost over my head, literally as I stood knee deep in mud waving bye to my culvert.

Finally, I enlisted the help of a man who installs culverts and other excavation work, for a living. He did, what took me an entire day, in the space of several minutes. He made it look easy. It is a much better job than I could ever do, but he did have an awesome “big boy” toy. I will put some stone in a place where the water seeps. I will cover the bare dirt with bark mulch and eventually grass, on top of mulch hay left from an old round bale.

I can’t believe how simple this solution really was in the end. It wasn’t expensive and it is doing a great job. The water runs through clean and clear. I can chalk this up as another great project in our quest to be good stewards of our farm and wetland. Seems almost funny that this solution was so simple, cost effective and easily done. I just had to ask the right guy, and like the culvert…he had me covered 😮



A day for good Stewardship
One of our woodland sap roads

One of our woodland sap roads

May 4, 2015

Last year we fixed a couple of road sections in the woods. Today we fixed a few more. The trouble spots we worked on today were stream crossings. I was able to get a culvert pipe installed. The trouble spot has been a thorn in my side for twenty years. It felt very good to cross it off the list! I would have taken a picture, but it was close to dark when we finished and I was too tired to walk back there 🙂

Sap roads hold up pretty well because of using the horses for gathering the maple sap.I am going to build a road repairer from an old disc my friend Bill gave me. I have narrowed it down so it fits the roads better. I am adding a piece of railroad rail to drag behind the disc. My hope is that the disc will cut the ruts and the dragging rail with level them all off. I has to make a difference!

In maple syrup season, we are using the roads when the soil is unstable…in fact muddy is a better word. Once in a while we have snow, but more often it is mud. As we slog through a stream, we drag mud with us, but worse than that we make small ditches. The sled runners cut grooves in the dirt where water makes a fast exit to the stream. The silt soon fills the stream with soft mud. It is not good for the stream or any water down stream of it either. I is my goal to have all my problem areas fixed by this time next year…I only have two more places to go.

When water can trickle or even run onto a place littered with leaves before making it to the stream, the dirt settles out and only clean water enters the stream bed. By building bridges and installing culverts at stream crossings, I am improving water quality here on my farm and even more importantly, downstream from my farm!

The job of environmental steward is one I don’t take lightly. I want to be a good neighbor, it’s the right thing to do and I believe it is my responsibility. I also like the way it looks. I can see that it will be a life’s work. It is noble and it pleases me. I am teaching others as I go along and setting an example for my heirs to boot. If my heirs don’t get it…they will get the boot! I am a true believer in sustainability for a farm and for a woodland. Here at Riceland, it’s the way we do business.



Talk About a Tank!

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reworked sap hauling tank

reworked sap hauling tank

February 12, 2015

What you are looking at, is the result of many drawings, much thought and lots of steel. I wanted to make the tank so it would slide on runners when the woods were soft, yet still roll down the road when needed. I wanted it to be more user friendly, hence the ladder. I wanted it to be safer for my grandchildren, so it has a platform and a safety rail.

A couple of years ago, I made a mess of our trails from using this tank and our tractor to gather sap. We were left with rutted up roads and trails. I am hoping that once the tires start to sink, it will slide on the steel runners. The horses will pull this instead of the sled and tank we normally use…at least I hope it works out that way,  😮

When we used this trailer in the past, we had to jump up on a small step. My jumping up days are pretty much behind me. Even the young guys didn’t like it by the end of the job. I am hoping the ladder and handrail makes this thing much easier to use. It holds 300 gallons of sap, 90 more than the sled and tank.

I will use three horses to pull it I think, not because I need that much horsepower, but because I can’t stand the sound of my third horse whinnying from the barn. It will also get all three horses ready for spring plowing. Work hardened horses ready for spring work, makes me thankful..in fact I will say… “Tanks a lot!”

 Ain't she a beaut?!

Ain’t she a beaut?!