Drover, arborist, sawyer & equines artfully harvest timber from the forest.
It has been 30 years since we last harvested timber from our woods, despite monthly inquiries from loggers. The venture three decades ago left us with scarred trees, deep ruts, and considerable apprehension.
We have pondered since how to manage our forest. We have placed a conservation easement on 100 acres of woods, which shelter headwaters of our wetlands, so those trees will never be harvested by man again. The rest of the forest is regrowth from 100 years ago that has been too frequently harvested. The forest has been highly manipulated over the years, and begs the question of whether to manage it to: recreate original conditions, leave as is, replant or replace increasing numbers of dying species, or simply harvest what is there every 20 years as a cash crop. We haven't been sure, and have erred on doing less than more.
Trees take so long to grow, and contain such wealth of knowledge and beauty, that it feels sacrilegious to take them down. Especially when a tree that is 70 years old can be felled in 10 minutes with a chain-saw. The proportion between time for growth and time for felling is extreme, even absurd. A tree is one of nature's greatest creations, and it is painful to lose even one to recklessness.
But we need to learn and resolve the dilemma between active and passive management of the forest. So, when a young Mennonite man approached me this fall about using horses to harvest some timber this winter, I agreed to a trial run on one load of logs. We are stepping into this to observe.
Notice the path through the woods the horses create. It hardly disturbs the underbrush, nor do the horses scar trees as they pass by. The operation is quiet, and does not exude dissonance of diesel fuel belching from sylvan depths. Horse-drawn logging feels measured and reasonable, somewhat akin to slow cooking - it almost always turns our right.
ur friends above constitute yearlings and two-year-olds calmly standing around, despite zero degree weather. We allocate a new strip of fescue to them every day, and they are thriving. In another week, we will start feeding them hay, as their allocation of grass will be consumed.
We still have another 40 days of grazing in front of the cow herd. Despite this, we started feeding haylage to them today, so we wouldn't have to move them down the road and set up hot-wires for the next pasture in this extreme cold. Once the Arctic front passes, we will resume grazing. It is a challenge to work outside in this weather for very long.
e grilled a sirloin steak the other night along with a few pieces of tenderloin, creating sumptuous leftovers for appetites hungry from the cold.
We look forward to seeing you this Sunday, January 11, at the farmers market in Hyde Park, from 10-1.
You may order on-line by going to: http://grassrootsfoods.biz/on-line-purchasing
And you may stop in at Keegans Seafood for lamb and ground beef.
Drausin & Susan