Tag Archives: creek

Trees and Timber Management

The benefits of managing trees and timbers far outweigh the tree-hugger (an environmental campaigner used in reference to the practice of embracing a tree in an attempt to prevent it from being felled) concept of saving all or specific trees.  Biblically, we are instructed to tend and keep the garden – not let it run rampant into total chaos.  Work is not a four-letter word in the negative sense and it behooves us all to manage for effectiveness, efficiency, helpfulness, integrity, and beauty.

As Greg Judy shares, there are two ways to establish silvopasture or savannah.  One way is to clear out dead or unproductive trees in existing timber or to plant a diverse mixture of productive and valuable trees.    Planting and establishing a new timber will take decades before reaching its full potential, but if you didn’t start decades ago, might as well start now.

Unmanaged timbers will eventually become worthless – full of scraggly crooked trees which will never grow if the older trees are not harvested at their peak of quality.  The heavy canopy old tall trees prevent youngsters from reaching their full potential.  Even though the old fogy’s will eventually die, the young trees may never recover and the timber itself will fail.  This may take a millennia, but why not manage it, sustaining, regenerating, as well as taking off a cash crop to help pay the bills.

Trees and timber are so important in our environment – for people, livestock, wildlife, soil.  Shade is the first benefit which often comes to mind.  Evapotranspiration is the ‘coolest’ sort of shade there is – much better than that provided by a shade cloth or roof.  Additionally, we harvest fuel, wildlife, forage diversity, shelter, lumber, and a beautiful landscape.  But management is more than harvesting, it also requires protection from overuse by livestock and even wildlife, yet on the flip side, excluding animal use will allow brush overgrowth and a buildup of fire fuel, which during a dry hot spell could catch fire and destroy your timber in a matter of moments.

Trees which are allowed to grow large around ditches, draws, and branches destabilize the banks.  Their large roots won’t hold the soil as well as millions of deep rooted grass plants, so it’s best to keep those sprouts cut out so grass can grow.  My observation is that once trees are removed, sunlight can reach the bank which allows the grasses to grow, especially with the ready supply of water!  Include timeliness of livestock impact (to knock down the steep eroded banks) and grass will quickly cover those leveled areas as well.  This all works together to hold soil, reduce erosion during what we call gully washers and slow the flow of water across the landscape.  It’s a beautiful thing to watch the land heal.

Spring 2013 (1)
Note how the left side is devoid of trees and the bank slope is less steep and covering with grass while the right side had a fairly large tree grown into the bank.  It could not hold the soil which has washed out from under the tree and it is falling down and will become another liability not to mention the loss of potential lumber or fuel.

A word of caution in all this!  It will not work if you hire a bulldozer and push out trees – roots and all.  This moves too much soil which may cause a lot of erosion and make the scarring even worse.  The trees must be harvested leaving the roots in place.  I find it more attractive to cut the stumps fairly level to the surface, plus the convenience of not having a stump to run into, but it probably doesn’t make any difference from a soil saving aspect.

The final argument to address is to define my use of the word ‘management.’  One way to manage is to bulldoze, another is to clear cut, but i’m referring to managing for regeneration.  Sustaining my unmanaged timber is not smart – improving for the next generation (regeneration) is more respectful all around.

Create something beautiful today!

tauna

12-8-use-existing-water-sources - Alan Newport
These grassy banks will hold against much erosion around this pond.  However, the roots of the trees on the right will grow through the bank eventually causing the pond to leak as well as shade out soil saving grasses.

 

 

 

 

Trudging Through

There’s my feet– literally – today.

Oops!  focused on my tattered 100% wool trench coat.  It wasn't tattered when i picked up for $2 at a second hand shop some 4 years ago.  Probably 60 plus years old, but still good.  Have been shopping for a 'new' one since it's practically ruint from snagging on brush I'm clearing.
Oops! focused on my tattered 100% wool trench coat. It wasn’t tattered when i picked up for $2 at a second hand shop some 4 years ago. Probably 60 plus years old, but still good. Have been shopping for a ‘new’ one since it’s practically ruint from snagging on brush I’m clearing.

Cold, blowing, gusting northerly wind making it feel like 12F (-11C) at best- deep snow bottomed out by 2 inches of mud – i trudged/hiked nearly 3 1/2 miles (round trip) to shift my cows to a paddock with fresh stockpile which they would need to fill their bellies in advance of the bitterly cold temps to come this week.  Glancing up occasionally to verify my position resulted in shards of blowing snow to my eyeballs.  Goggles would have been a good choice today! Too muddy and snowy to drive in any closer. Glad i had a trusty hickory shepherd’s crook to steady my steps whilst slipping around in rutted, muddy Cotton road. Took me 1 hr 20 minutes to make that hike back to the pickup. My hips were burning so badly, i could barely lift my feet above the snow for the next step – but step i must – there was no other option.  Total time from leaving the pickup to arriving back – 2 1/2 hours.   I certainly had my alone time for the day.

Morris Chapel Cemetery - 1 Feb 15
Morris Chapel Cemetery – 1 Feb 15
photos 019
One of the small creeks (cricks) along the way back.
photos 017
Sheep don’t even know it’s cold!
photos 011
The road ahead!
Queen of the Log!
Queen of the Log!