October forest visit

Took advantage of the beautiful last day of October to do some work on the farms. We will be burning soon in Freeman, weather depending. I wanted to get some of the slash away from the trees. There are not many affected, so I could actually make an impact.
I also walked the fire lines, not so much to check them but to look at the beautiful forest now made much more accessible. It is also easier to see the contrasts now that the grass has turned brown and the leaves on the deciduous plants have turned color.

Common species are yellow poplar, red maple & sweet gum, but some of the most interesting are the sumac. I think that the sumac will have a big future on the farms. They are already common and they seem almost fireproof. They burn to the ground but come up from the roots even more robust. I am not sure how much competition they are for my crop pines, but I like them anyway, especially in the fall when they turn scarlet.

I also went to the Brodnax place. DoF did a patch burn in May of this year and will do another this winter. This is part of my NRCS contract to provide wildlife habitat in open woods. We already have lots of wildlife.

Being on the farms is a long day for me. I have to drive three hours each way and in order to get the most out of the visits, I go early and come back late. At this time of the year, with shortening days, it is what my father used to call “from can’t see to can’t see”. Anyway, I was a little tired so I took a short nap on my folding chair, less than a half hour. I heard what sounded like someone walking around, but I figured it was only the wind in the trees or maybe a half-asleep dream, so I did not look up. When I got up, I saw fresh deer tracks in the mud near my chair. The deer had come within about three meters. The hunters are going to have an easy time this year, since the local deer seem not to avoid humans. No worries about that, but there are also bears in the woods. I think I would have been more alarmed to see fresh bear tracks.

First three pictures are Freeman; last two are Brodnax. I think both looked especially beautiful today.

Notice trees are widely spaced. This is part of our plan to use the principles of southern pine diverse ecology. The wide spacing lets a lot of sunlight get to the surface. We also have patches of open ground. My research into southern forests indicates that this sort of mosaic pattern was common type in pre-settlement Virginia.

Freeman pictures

Brodnax pictures