There seem to be lots of spiders around here. Maybe it’s just spider season. I don’t know. They throw their webs across the trails at about face height. You usually don’t see them, but you walk into them and get the threads in your mouth. It is not pleasant, although I suppose ruining all that work impacts the spider more than the walker.
We are down here to look at the farms and especially to look at the new one. Everything is looking good. The trees look healthy and have put on good growth this year. Usually it is not so long between visits, so I am seeing a little more growth than usual.
There is an interesting change in the streams on the CP place. As the trees get bigger, they suck up more of the water that falls on the land, so it doesn’t run off so quickly. Some of my formerly full stream beds are now just wet, even with the extensive rain we had here in the last couple of months. There is still water pooled up in some places, so it is not a general dryness. I like one particular place where I sit under some really big beech trees. This place now has a spring, where it used to have a surface stream. The water evidently follows the stream bed underground and then if forced to the surface by some really big rock formations. It flows down the rocks. Very nice.
The new farm is 137 acres just north of Hwy 58. It is good land with around 100 acres of twenty-eight year old loblolly, another maybe twenty acres in five year old and the rest in mixed hardwood SMZ. There is relatively little SMZ, so a more generally useable land. We could harvest the pines at any time, but we would ideally do this in about five years. I want to be around to watch the harvest and the replanting, so maybe after I retire would be a good time. That is not that long away now.
I probably have to modify my planning to account for retirement and mortality. My forestry planning goes out to times when I will probably be dead. The thing that is fun about forestry is the long term perspective, but you cannot manage events past your lifetime. The other problem is just getting around. Yesterday I was climbing around over rocks and streams. I was getting tired. I take good physical condition for granted. How much longer can I do this?
I talked to Larry Walker who runs the hunt club and works in local forestry. He told me that the market for pulp and timber has improved a lot recently, especially over the last month. I don’t know if this is a leading economic indicator, but it is local good news.
Another piece of good news is that Dominion Power will begin using wood chip biomass to replace coal in its power stations in Altavista, Hopewell, and Southampton coal-fired power stations. Wood chips are a completely renewable resource & carbon neutral, i.e. they soak up as much CO2 as they produce when burned. This move will also provide a market for slash and other forestry byproducts and steady the market prices for pulp wood. It makes sense to burn biomass in a place that produces so much of it. This is the fundamental principle of energy. You should use what works best in the local conditions. There is no single solution.
The two top pictures show our new land. I am standing near the trees to give perspective. Below that is my usual corner on the CP property. The bottom picture are my sycamores along the road. I have been thinning them into a kind of colonnade. I am vaguely allergic to sycamore. If I do a lot of work cutting branches etc, I cough and sneeze. So I can do it only a little while before I need to take a breathing break. Sycamores have a distinctive smell, which I suppose it the same thing that causes me trouble.