A New Forest Emerging

Young fir trees compete with the dicidious trees to get established.Since the ground has dried out from last weeks gully-washers we have tried to finish our season of logging while cleaning up winter storm damage.

On my walk up the hill today, I noticed the growth on the seedlings we had planted along this skid road.

The seedlings are now about 5 years along and are starting to emerge from the brush like ground blackberries, thistles, buckbrush, wild roses and salal. Within another year or two, the seedlings will overtake the taller brush and trees like wild cherry, hazelnut, vine maple and within five years will be taller than the large leaf maple and alder sapling trees.

It was difficult to see if our planting was successful until these youngsters got established and began to overtake their competitors. Now that the trees are more visible I can see a couple of spots on this small hillside that may need an extra tree or two plugged in when we begin planting again.


Not Cagey

I had noticed that something had been nosing around the cedar seedlings that we had planted and placed protective cages around.

Cages around the tender cedar seedling was pulled from plant.Out of the 25 seedlings in this area, only 1 plant with cage had been left alone. The rest had cages torn off the bamboo poles, had the poles broken off at ground level, or the cages were completely missing from the area just so the seedlings could be exposed for grazing.

The tender cedar trees were just too much of a temptation for cows, calves, elk or deer that could smell the delicacy beneath the protection of the cage.

I spent several hours re-caging what was left of the seedlings in hope that the cages will stay in place through the summer for the plant to get settled into the ground. As I worked my way around the hillside, I did see a few of the cedars that we had to replant that had been pulled out of the ground completely. Some survived, but most did not.Seedling cedar trees with plastic cages.

I had to do some looking but I did finally find the two missing cages scattered away from this planting area.

One of the cages had been carried nearly 50 yards away from this hillside. We are now back to being cagey.

Hiding In Plain Sight

Our 4/19/17 calf Dial, has been growing steadily and enjoys being right in the middle of the herd.

The other day I noticed Dial away from most of the cows, it looked like she was trying to hide in a clump of trees. near some old stumps. These happened to be seedlings that we had planted along the ditch that runs to the river. The seedlings were planted at the same time we were filling in plants in the riparian area.

YoungBlack Angus calf standing in a bunch of seedlings and and old stump.Little Dial was standing right in the middle with spruce, maple, alder and dogwood seedlings that made her look like a giant.

The plants were not harmed in anyway by the little visitor, in fact she left a little fertilizer for the trees before she left.


How Disappointing

Anyone who has spent any time in the forest with Mike has heard him comment, “Take a little sashay out into the woods.” Loggers, mushroom pickers, hunters and visitors to our woodlands, have heard the comment.

I cannot think of any other grown man to use the word sashay as he does. To me when I hear sashay, I think of ladies in dresses to their ankles and a pretty little bonnet on their head, with a debonair escort to promenade around the town square.

To Mike, sashay means getting off the main roads, animal trails, and skid paths, and into the heart of the forest. A sashay to Mike could be a trek 10 minutes to several hours, from a scramble up to a ridge or a 3 mile pack.

After 40 years together, I noticed that I picked up on the word also. I was out in the area where we had planted cedar trees a couple weeks ago and mentioned to my right-hand-helper that we needed to take a little sashay over to the trees to see if the elk had been in grazing on the seedlings.

To my surprise, we found that not only had the elk come in to nip off all the tender ends of the trees, some of them were completely pulled out of the ground and left for dead.

A cedar tree plug had been pulled from the ground by grazing elk.The spots where they had been pulled from left gaping holes in the earth while the roots dried from exposure to the elements.

All around the planting area, big old elk footy prints marred the ground and the vegetation that had been growing there was torn up or trampled into a muddy mess.

We had taken a chance on planting these seedlings without benefit of cages to protect the trees, but this destruction was a lot more than expected.

More on cages will be coming up in new stories.

Transplanted Tomato Starts

A tray of seedling tomatoes.My little tray of seedling tomatoes are cramped and it is time to transfer them to larger pots so they can develop strong roots.

So far, they have spent their days hugging the window sill in the garage and straining for true sunlight.

The weather has finally warmed to 50 degrees during the day. Once they are packed into the larger pots, I will move them outside during the days and back inside for the cooler nights.

Tomatoes in 4 inch pots.These plants are very tender and bruise easily. Likewise, heavy rain can break the stems if a hard shower pelts them.

They will get stronger as the outside breeze challenges the slender stems.

Garden Dreams

Between snow showers and more rain than I am comfortable with, dreams of the garden are taking shape. We have been working on the pruning and the necessary cleanup of all the limbs, and I started the tomato seeds.

The tomatoes are totally unnecessary, I know that I could go out and buy tomato plants from the local nurseries for about $2 each when the time is ready to plant. But my mind tells me that I need to start a few of my own for a couple of reasons. 1. I can do it. and 2. There can never be too many tomatoes in the garden.

Seedling tomatoes on the window ledge with snow outside.My little seedlings are just about ready to break out their second set of leaves while outside their window another new coating of snow covers the yard and pasture.

I’m waiting for a day with temps above 45 degrees to transplant the little seedlings to 4 inch pots. I may be waiting another week for that project.

Up The Hill We Go

Thank goodness my right-hand-helper was able to pitch in and help get the trees up the hill and into the ground.

It took an effort for me to stabilize myself on the steep logging road, but when I turned to ask how his progress was going, the only words he could say between panting was, “Not well.” Continue reading