A Nice Stick

Cutting down a tall fir tree is not the beginning of the story. Getting to the tree to cut it down can sometimes be much more work than the actual harvest.

The area that we are cleaning out is a tip of a canyon where the strong winter winds wreaked havoc on the timber. 10 trees were uprooted and laying criss-cross across and down into the canyon while others leaned and others yet had tops broken out of them.

If the downed and damaged trees were left unattended, the dangers could be significant. Bark beetles and other bugs could invade the trees and then once fed and breeding, move into the healthy forest where live trees could be infected. The fire danger increases as the trees that are down but not in contact with the soil dry out. Fire easily crawls through timber that is ‘laddered’ throughout the understory of the forest and can climb trees with terrific speed where it hops from tree to tree (called ‘crowning’) and then burns through a tremendous amount of wood.

A downed tree in the woods.A skid road was built (‘punched in’) to the top of the canyon and Mike fell this 140 foot tall Douglas Fir before trimming all the limbs off. The tree is currently at a downhill slope and Mike had to walk along the log as he limbed the branches off and measured 36 feet for the first log.

The butt of the tree measured 36 inches where it was cut into log length the log was still at 26 inches. It was cut into a log length of 36 feet. This one log off this one tree has 1120 board feet.

Once the tree is cut into log sized pieces, each individual piece is dragged uphill to the bulldozer with the steel cable to the skid road and dragged down the hill to the landing.

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.

Pearl and Skitter

A black angus cow with newborn calf hidden in grove of alder trees.#92 Pearl had her brand new calf well hidden in the understory of brush under the alder trees.

We knew she had a calf but we did not know where. As I walked through the brush, a newborn calf was startled. The little one jumped up and started running away. Pearl was busy eating hay that we had scattered out for the herd. With all the chewing, she missed it when her calf jumped up and ran away from the herd and her safety of the tall brush.

We spent nearly a half hour looking for the wayward calf and realized that the baby must have tired and laid back down to nap and we could not find it. We had to rely on Pearl to finish eating first and then start bellowing to call the calf back to her. Which is just what she did.

The next feeding we found Pearl and her baby tucked once again under the big alder trees together. At this time we found out that on 5/4/17 Pearl had a heifer about 65 lbs. We decided to name her after her first adventure, welcome to the farm Skitter.

Spring Windstorm

It’s unusual around here to get much in the way of windstorms during the spring months. This super wet, and cold winter had been out of the ordinary already. Last week there was a report of a swirling wind that hit just north of Vancouver, Washington. It was even classified as a tornado even though it was the lowest class at an EF-0 on Fujita scale. This means the swirling winds were less than 73 miles an hour.

During this spring storm, a gust was clocked at 80 miles and hour in the west hills of Portland, but the winds were not swirling.

Here on the farm, the trees swayed, branches broke off and flew through the pastures. The sound of the wind racing through the trees on the hilltop sounded more like a busy commute of Portland traffic that a spring day. Throughout Northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington power outages were counted by the thousands then by the tens of thousands on the news reports as the storm raged on.

We noticed minimal damage around the barns, house and yard. Just a green coating of branches covering the ground.  That was until we headed outdoors to feed the main herd across the river.

Wind storm damage of fallen tree that hit bridge.I took this picture from on top the bridge. The alder tree had broken off and fell toward the river, a big branch hit the bridge and shattered across the driving surface.

A quick clean up had to be performed to get the passage back open for travel.

Branches across bridge.I was not able to get a ‘before shot’, only this ‘after’ still showing some of the debris from the tree branch and the tree itself laying below the right side of the bridge about halfway across.

We still haven’t made it into the woods to see what kind of damage was inflicted on the tall timber.

I am looking forward to a little calmer weather.


I Had Said Completed

“How can you accidentally plant 325 more trees?”

This was the question that was posed to me the other day. I guess the correct answer is that I did not accidentally plant but I did accidentally get 325 more seedlings this year.

I was so elated to be done with the planting that I posted on 3/21 about the completion. The special bags we carry the seedlings to protect the roots while we did the holes had all been stowed away for the year. The straight shovels that we use to dig the holes had been cleaned and propped in their alcove. I was done. Another year in the books. Continue reading

Don’t Worry, Bee Happy

I am not wild about most bees. I am allergic to the stings, and while it’s not enough to put me in the hospital or have the need to carry epinephrine with me, I do swell up like a puffer fish and have discomfort for a full week after being stung. So usually I just try to avoid bees and their stings, with the exception of the honey bee.

I encourage the honey bees we have around here and regard them with respect for the valuable part they play in our ecosystem. Our tall fir trees that show signs of having bee colonies inhabiting old scars (referred to as ‘Cat Faces’) or forming mobile hives in the large leaf maples are marked and we refuse to cut them down for fear of chasing the honey bees away. Continue reading

Falling Leaves Answer Question

A couple of weeks ago, I had mentioned the black walnut trees that were beginning to lose their leaves and wondered about how much of a nut crop I would get off the large trees that dot the edge of one of the fields.

A nearly bare black walnut tree during the fall. With our last round of storms, most of the leaves have fallen and I can now see how many nuts I will be able to harvest.

The answer; in a nutshell, so to speak, very few. A couple of the four large trees do not sport a single nut, the other two trees have less than a dozen nuts on them.

A single black walnut hangs on a bare branch.This picture of a single black walnut hanging by itself out on a bare limb shows just how poor the crop is this year.

I tend to believe that the big trees are still trying to recover from the brutal summer we had last year. The stress of the long, hot, dry summer is showing in many of the trees in shrubs on the farm.

Although these black walnuts do not seem to be so extremely stressed that the mortal viability of the trees are in jeopardy. but it may take a year or two before they are back to producing as normal.