Community, Plants, Wildlife

Thinning in Winter

When I start the chainsaw, I attract deer.  The inflow starts with a doe who learned, as a fawn, that my chainsaw meant there would be winter food near the house,  She shows up, with her yearling daughter and two fawns.  She often chooses to browse the mosses and lichens on the trees, as do the rest of her family.  The newer dependents usually just browse the needles – and they seem to come to dinner in their own family groups to minimize conflict.

The place needs thinning.  The large stumps bear witness to the first logging – done around 1910, with smaller stumps showing a second, smaller harvest a little after the second world war.  Yet another scattered group of stumps shows where a man with a horse, a saw and a broadaxe could be in the crosstie business – opportunity, if hard work.  The other stump evidence shows the Christmas tree industry . . . and I wonder if we could have yarded Christmas trees along the old road in the sixties and seventies without the deer browsing destroying them. 

I had a visitor comment, “You’re parking it out.”  I don’t see it that way – nearly 50 years ago, a forester taught me a simple principle – each acre will produce about the same amount of wood.  Spaced properly, the wood grows into harvestable logs.  Additionally, with the open canopy, it will produce about 80% of the grass that would grow on an open meadow.  Forest management pays, but takes a long-term perspective and consistent maintenance.  Others may think I’m parking it out close to the house – I think I’m still that same conservationist . . . though I left that career path almost 40 years ago.

And I learn – doing my thinning mostly in the winter provides food for my semi-domestic dependents.  There is something pleasant about trimming branches on one end of a log while deer browse 15 feet further up.

Apologies to our subscribers if you were notified about this article twice. An unfortunate result of working in the wee morning hours on little caffeine. We’re still only coming out on Tuesdays.

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