The Next Forest

I call it our agricultural enterprise.  I never want to retire, but I want to be working at something special from the time I leave officially paid work and when I take the road to glory.  That is why I am acquiring forest land.  Eventually, I would like to have an integrated enterprise including forestry, fish farming, hunting leases and maybe some limited livestock production.  I hope the kids will take an interest too.  This is a long way off and it is more of an aspiration than a plan, but we took another step today when we got another 115 acres of forest land.   Added to the 178 acres we already own, I figure we are around 1/3 to the goal.

The new property has 86 acres of loblolly pine planted in 1996.  It is excellent stand, only a little too thick, but I have not seen better at this age (except for a perfect stand of trees along HW 48 just south of US 1).  The owner who planted it was Union Camp.  During the 1990s, they had a lot of good foresters working for them who did an excellent site preparation and planting.   The trees you see in the picture (with the truck for comparison) are tall and healthy. This is an outstanding plantation of trees.   I thank the downturn in the property market and the low price of fiber for this land being available.   There is a minor risk from the southern pine beetle until first thinning, which I think we can do three years. a couple years ahead of average.  Then we will apply biosolids & do a prescribed burn.  I expect the second thinning chip & saw about seven years later. 

Running through the property are power lines.   This is a good thing.  It makes it less desirable for development and provides a long open area good for wildlife.  I can manage that space for herbaceous plants.  There just can be no trees.  Eight acres are taken up by this easement, which includes an access road.  The rest of the property is a seventy year old hardwood forest we leave alone to ensure water quality.   This property has no permanent streams, but the low lying areas feed springs and are watercourses in wet weather. 

We also inspected the precommercial thinning and wildlife plots on the first piece of land.  I am calling this property Chrissy’s Pond.  I have not built the pond yet, but I have a couple of good places.  This place has two spring fed streams and big creek.  Below is one of the wildlife plots.  The clover and chickory are under those ragweeds.  It needs to be mowed.

This is more fun than being in Iraq.

Above is the thinned forest on the CP property.  The spacing will protect them from beetles and cause a growth spurt.  These pines were planted in 2003.   Before this treatment they were a bit too thick and there was significant competition.  I think they should be just a little bigger.  At some places on the property, they are.  The hardwood forest at the edge of the picture is beech-oak-tulip poplar.  That is my favorite part of the land.