Timing Is Everything

I love going out into the forest. It is my calming spot even when there is a grueling, eight hour workday ahead (for the sake of honesty here, I rarely, RARELY work or play at ANYTHING for eight hours at a time. My tasks are simply too dis-jointed to have one job last that long in a single day, but I do love to go into the forest for work, play, or meditation).

I was kind of hoping that after all the hustle of trying to fill the garage with cribs of firewood and kindling that I would have a day off before heading away from the farm. My kind of hoping did not work. As I was down to one last day of splitting and stacking firewood for the garage, and one day to change gears from farm to session, our neighbor showed up with the seedlings we had ordered from the Columbia County Small Woodlands Association.

The seedlings are grown at the Lewis River nursery in Washington State with seed that was purchased over two years ago by the Association. The members of the Association get to order trees when they have been grown first in small plugs for one year then transplanted into the ground for a second year of growth before digging or ‘lifting’.

A lot can go wrong along the way. Seeds do not always germinate well, or small seedlings can have die off from extreme weather or soil disturbances. Lifting can’t occur if snow is on the ground or the fields are too wet to dig. Last year, because of a nursery issue, the seedlings for Western Red Cedar were only one year old and very tiny from the trees we normally plant. This year the nursery was not able to supply any Western Red Cedar at all. The Association was able to get enough  trees to fill orders of the native Western Red Cedar stock from Scholls Valley nursery located in the Willamette Valley.

With all the ifs, maybes and possibilities surrounding the delivery of the seedlings to the farm, I was hoping that I would be away to the REALOregon class in Salem and miss all but the tail-end of the planting for the year. As luck (however you describe it) would have it, the seedlings arrived two days before my departure.

The family switched gears from splitting and stacking, to planting. And now the race is on to complete this round of forest re-planting before I get to take off for Salem.

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A Race With The Weather

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I may have bitten off more than I can chew. This last trip to the nursery for the riparian seedlings tempted me to get a full pickup load of plants since the last batch had went into the ground so quickly. Continue reading

Vivid To Bare

Fall seemed to only last a week this year in the Pacific Northwest.

Oh, I’m sure that we will still have some pleasant temps and a few sunny days, but the vibrant hues of the trees as the leaves turned from greens to wild splashes of color was only in full display a short while.

Storms that came in from the ocean sent wind and rain driving sideways at times. They lashed at the vegetation and ripped the tender stems of the leaves right off the trees that are drifting into slumber in preparation for the cold ahead.

Even the alder trees at the rivers edge lost their leaves so quickly that the normal fall of leaves gently floating into the water to steep and turn the water darker than tea didn’t happen. The river rose, swept the leaves away just as fast as they dropped and now the river is receding without a trace of dark stain. It does make it easier to watch the salmon that are coming upstream to spawn. Whereas in most years, we only catch a glimpse of a top fin as they struggle to continue upstream at the crossings or hear a splash now and again. This year we can see the salmon even in the deeper pools and also as we walk across the bridge.

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The Thinning Project

Some of the trees that have been pulled from the thinning projectThe thinning project is coming along nicely, its a good thing because even Jackson the dog (who would not move out of the frame while I snapped a picture) is embarrassed by the woods on this corner of the property.

The trees are dragged full length to a small landing area at the front of the picture before the Barko machine cuts the limbs off and measures each tree. The ones in this picture are not good enough to be sold at any of the mills and will be put into my pile for the firewood project after the limbs are off. Continue reading

Nearly Stuck In The Mess

Brushy forest with damaged treesMike had a path to my left all cleared with the blade of the bulldozer so I could get into the area to assess the prospects of finding and retrieving the downed barb wire, property border line.

I had worked my way into the  thick underbrush, downed trees and kept a watchful eye above for leaning trees and broken tops. It’s hard to see from all the green growth growing waist high but there are about ten large cherry trees either down or nearly down flung around like Pixie Sticks. Most of them are laying right on top of the wires of the fence. All the damage has left a lot of light to flood into the open spaces of the canopy and onto the forest floor, the growth spurt from the last few years is like a jungle. Getting my way out of the woods is as hard as it was getting into the area of the fenceline. Continue reading