Construction · Farmers · Lazer Creek Apiary

Thinning Trees

While we are hesitant to lose our privacy, we know that our trees are overcrowded and therefore not healthy.  We could probably have left them alone for another year or two, but as we need egress for the power company and a space on which to start building our cabin, we decided to have the trees thinned now.   Heathier trees are more able to withstand pine beetle attacks and thinned trees will grow faster the remaining trees have less competition for nutrients.

This is a good time for us to thin as we will not have to deal with having the heavy equipment and tree branches once we start living there — whether on a permanent or vacation-only basis.  We plan to mulch all of the trimmings, although we realize all may be an unrealistic goal!   We just think about how much mulch we were able to generate from one downed Bradford Pear tree a couple of years ago and envision a thick mulch carpet under the power lines along “Bee Lane.”   A little voice keeps telling me that there are going to be more branches than we can possibly grind up over spring break and that those branches are ideal hiding places for snakes, but I’ll put on my snake boots and we’ll do what we can!

We have heard some horror stories about more trees being removed than agreed upon, damage to land, and missing hardwoods when “only pines were harvested.”   We strongly recommend using a certified timber harvester and asking neighbors who they would recommend.    Our harvester, Scott Smith, was recommended by many people that we and our brother-in-law know and we have  not heard a single negative comment.   Scott originally came out and tied pink tape onto trees to keep in a small section of our land so that we could see what his recommended thinning would look like.  We liked what we saw, so, before his team showed up, he painted every tree that is to remain and painted boundary lines where the harvesters should stop, which is especially important to us as the land transitions to hardwoods as it nears the creek.    We walked our property boundary on Saturday — something we had planned to do over winter break but could not do due to the incessant rain.  We looked at the marked trees and tried to envision what our land will look like by the end of this week.  We found some more springs, some amazing boulders, and a couple of open areas that will be perfect for planting our seedlings.    Our long-term plan is to transition the land to half pine, half hardwood, but our plans are constantly evolving so may change again in the next five minutes — or at least after we see what the land looks like.

I headed straight back to the city on Monday, but my husband took a side-trip to see the harvesting in progress.  He got to see the first load of trees leave our land and took pictures of the harvesting process.  The way he described it, the man running the loader was able to snap a branch off with the grapple on the loader  more accurately than I can do with my little chain saw!   He was simply amazed at the skill and efficiency of the team.    We did not realize that they would even out the loading deck and driveway with a bulldozer to make their lives easier, and we are very happy with that added bonus.

I know we have a lot of work ahead of us, but we will take a load of daylilies with me spring break and start to turn the loading deck into a garden.   We have already taken our leaky RV and turned it into a home, although we may not be able to move it to our land until summer.  The proceeds from the trees should be enough to pay for electricity and a well.  Our home site is more visible from the road now, but we know we are heading in the right direction.   The dream is becoming a reality; life is good.

Gardening · Lazer Creek Apiary

Adding "farmer" to my resume.

There’s a progression to my career path that for now ends with farmer: electronics technician, computer programmer, English teacher, and tree farmer.  It’s an odd mixture, but it represents my personality and my eclectic range of interests and abilities.  I do so love the logic and the beauty of math and science, but I also love the beauty of a well-written sentence.

Still, who would have thought I would ever become a tree farmer?  Or know so much about bees?  Or wear snake boots?  But, as of Wednesday, we own 20 acres of pine trees, so we are officially farmers!   We’ll still be teachers for at least 10 more years, but we will be able to recharge our mental batteries by working in our woods on long weekends.    Spending time in nature has always helped us get back to enjoying teaching when the demands of teaching start to obscure the rewards.

Wednesday itself was not a stress-free day!  We’ve bought and sold enough homes to anticipate surprises at closing, and this time was no exception.  Those surprises were followed by learning that the utility company we were told to contact doesn’t actually own the power lines that run along our property.  Their lines end a mile away, which makes connecting to their supply an expensive prospect at $4 a foot!  We’re meeting with an engineer from the company that does own the power lines next week and hope to be able to get electricity for less than $20,000!   On to the septic system permit — after much back and forth and $450, we finally have a permit for our second choice of locations at which to build our cabin.  We don’t know why the septic permit guy didn’t give us specs for our first choice, especially as the soils engineer typed his report with analysis of both sites.   That’s going to necessitate another round of phone calls and probably more money.  We’ve been researching composting toilets as an alternative, but as this will be our retirement home we have to consider our ability to empty the compost when we’re in our 70s and beyond.

The good side of Wednesday was spending time on the land, walking down to the creek, and investigating a natural spring that may become a series of shallow ponds with mini water falls on its way downhill.  Now that we own the land, I feel that I am allowed to snap off dead branches and vines to make my path through the woods a little easier!  As I now also own the brambles, I can threaten them with retaliation when they stick their thorns in me.

Back in the city, I can look at my 30 pots of day-lilies, my rosemary cuttings, my Goldenraintree seedlings, and all my magnolia seeds hibernating in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator in the garage as they apparently need that in order to germinate.  I’m already mentally planting the trees they will (hopefully) produce.  So, while my husband plans building foundations and septic systems, I plan gardens and avenues of pretty trees.  I envision a grove of Goldenraintrees — our own little Lothlorien nestled among the pines.