The Nature of Impermanence

Burning Doubt
I will never beat the feeling of dread when I see my scorched trees after a fire. They are not burned, but the heat plumes rose more than thirty feet. Science and experience tell me that things will be okay and that the fire is a necessary and useful part of southern pine ecology, but I can know all that and still not feel it. I am happy to report that – again and as expected – my fears were overblown. The trees on the most recently burned patch are greening out with new needles, as you can see in my first picture. The burned are in the distance. I have closer pictures but I liked the panorama. The longleaf that we burned last year are looking great, as you can see in the next picture. A forest is more than just the trees, but the trees are the first thing you see and the one that sets your mood when looking to the forest.

My management strategy for all our tree farms is atypical for Brunswick County and I am not exactly sure how it will work out. Let me rephrase – I have an idea what I want and a bit vaguer idea of how to get there, but I have lots of doubts about conditions on the ground and what will happen when I make changes.

Don’t Copy Nature; Do Try to Understand Natural Principles
A diverse ecosystem that respects and uses natural principles but does not merely mimic nature, that is what I want on my land and what I hope to learn from my land. When talking to people generally, I often use words like “restore.” People like the idea of restoration. I do too, but I know restoration is not an option. We have too many changes in Virginia, too many invasive plants and too much human interaction ever to restore what was once here. Beyond that, there would be no way to know what you should restore. Even with precise (and impossible to obtain) information about what was here and how everything was connected, in what year was everything exactly the way it should be?

The answer is never. Nature is never finished. Virginia of 1608 is different from but not better than the Virginia of 2018 or how it was during the last ice age or when dinosaurs roamed Our beloved longleaf pine ecosystem began its development on coastal plain exposed by much lower sea levels during the last ice age and “invaded” this land as its home range disappeared under the rising seas.

All we can do is move forward using the principles in an iterative way, trying something, learning something and then trying again with the profound understanding that this too is passing, and knowing that much you get from being in nature is being in nature.

You Can Never Walk Twice in the Same Forest
When I fell in love with nature, it was the feeling of the eternal that attracted me. In nature, I saw permanence, belonging and balance. Sure, we foolish humans often upset the balance. I blamed ignorance and greed. It was an easy morality tale. But I expected that if we left it alone long enough, nature would come back “as it should.” I thought my opinions were science-based, but they were not. Today what I love about nature is the impermanence. Each moment is unique to be appreciated for what it is. A small alteration may grow into a great change that everybody sees or maybe you won’t perceive it at all, but (paraphrasing Heraclitus) you cannot walk twice into the same forest. That is what I love now.

… And Know the Place for the First Time
It is a shame that the term “know your place” carries with it so many pejorative connotations, but I am going to use it here in a positive, maybe even a transcendent way. Looking back over my life, I think that I have spent it trying to know my place in human society and in the greater nature. Before I get anybody excited about the meaning of life, let me say that I have not found it and I know that I never will. This is not a despondent thought. No, it is a glorious one to know that you cannot know, and feel your own impermanence. It means you can enjoy all the steps on the journey. I have brief glimpses, epiphanies sometimes when I am in the flow, almost always when I am engaged with natural systems. It is a mystical feeling that I can report but not properly describe, when I feel part of all that was, all that is now and all that will become. I know others have had similar. The moments do not last long, but the memory sustains.

I don’t know what I would do if I was deprived of contact with nature. I don’t think I am strong in that way. I think I would crumple at being removed. My place is as an interacting part. Pull it out and there is nothing more.

What’s Happening Down on the Brunswick Farms
Lots of interesting developments at the farms. The thinning looks good. I walked all over the place and came up with hundreds of things I want to do. Now I have to narrow it down to a couple I can accomplish. You see the thinned pines in picture # 3. I took that picture through the wildflowers in front of them. Speaking of restoration, you know that lots of those beautiful flowers are not native. This is not a picture you could have taken in 1607, or more correctly painted. But the changing landscape conforms to natural principles. Queens Ann’s Lace, a beautiful flower in the carrot family, had been in North America for more than 300 years. It has earned its place.

Next is (right above) one of the pollinator habitat plots. I want to thank NRCS for helping with this. We got a grant to help defray the costs of seeds. I have more, but I include only one, since they are just starting. We got them in late because the seeds were hard to get. You can see the sunflowers coming up if you look closely. They will provide quick cover and the perennial warm season grasses and forbs will come in after. Sunflowers are “native” to North America, but this variety is not from around Virginia. Again, what does native or restoration really mean anyway?

Above are some bald cypress I “discovered”. I knew that my friend Eric Goodman had planted them in 2012, but I never could find them and thought they died out. The recent harvest next to them revealed them and is now giving them the sun they need. They are in a wet rill (pictured below) and should do well with the more sun. They are doing okay now. I found a couple dozen.

Below shows both sides of the fire line. We are burning 1/3 of this track each year, creating patches of early succession landscape.

Below shows our 2012 plantings from the area under the power lines. Some people hate power lines and they detract from use of land, but on the plus side they provide long narrow acreage of early succession habitat.

Jury Duty

Why anybody avoids jury duty is beyond me. We finished out case today & it was a great and uplifting experience. It might have been worse with a more difficult case or a less happy outcome, but I think most of the good would have remained.

What was good?
I was inspired by my fellow citizens and by the strength of our diversity. Five of the twelve members on our jury were naturalized American citizens and for all but one of us it was the first time on a real trial. A jury like this is probably more common in Fairfax County where we have a lot of foreign born citizens and I high ratio of registered voters to accused criminals, so our chances of being called are relatively small.

You could say Fairfax is multicultural, but I think it is a step better. It is the evolving American culture that merges new ideas and new outlooks and then embraces the most appropriate. My fellow jurors from different continents and countries showed their love of democracy in its manifestation in a jury trial. I think we had a productive time and a good one. Our opinions were diverse, but we came together. Made one out of many. How would you phrase that in Latin? Maybe e pluribus unum

W/o going into too many details, our case involved an assault. In the jury selection process, the lawyer for the defense asked if anybody had been a victim of violence or had a loved one who had. When I mentioned the thugs that attacked Alex, I thought I would be excluded. But they let me stay.

The testimony was interesting but inconclusive. The Commonwealth and the defense had very different theories of the situation. I do not think that any of the witnesses were lying. Rather that their memories were reconstructed to explain a confusing sequence of events. Some things they held in common and we generally accepted that. Some things were not plausible, and others would have been physically impossible. We all used our best judgement.

I am not sure when I decided that the defendant was not guilty, and I am not sure precisely why. I tried to be objective, but it is hard not to bring in personal feelings. I think maybe the defense lawyer made a good choice of keeping me on the jury after I explained about Alex. I could compare the extent of the purported injuries.

We decided on not guilty. We were not sure what happened in the event, but we were sure that we could not be sure, which meant that we had reasonable doubt. I think we made the right decision from the point of view of justice done.

Serving on a jury is a good experience for the jurors. You get a better idea of how justice is done, and you get to participate.

It is very hard to convict someone because of the presumption of innocent and the reasonable doubt requirement. I just did not think that the Commonwealth proved its case. The defense did not need to prove theirs, but they put on a good rebuttal. I thought that the defense would have won even with the lower standard of preponderance of the evidence, so I have no trouble whatever voting for not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Biking on the Gerry Connolly trail
It was a good couple days. I enjoyed it and learned a few things. Weather was good, so I could ride my bike to the courthouse. Riding the bike makes almost any destination better. I discovered a previously unknown to me bike trail, the Jerry Connolly trail, that starts on Picket Road and goes to Old Lee Highway. You can ride on designated bike paths, sometimes on sidewalks, all along Old Lee Highway, so it is a pretty safe ride. It is around 13 miles round trip. The only drawback is that the courthouse is on a long high hill and it is tiring climbing it. The route is not great topographically. My house is relatively higher ground. I descend into in the valley around the Accotink Creek. The trail follows the creek. Then you must climb again. You go faster than you need down the hills and then pay for it at the end.

My first picture is the courthouse. Next is the square in front followed by a corner in Fairfax. Last is part of the Jerry Connolly trail. I prefer asphalt when I am on the bike, but the dirt and gravel is a better trail for running.

Brookings: Improving water infrastructure and promoting a more inclusive economy

Rode down to Brookings for a program on the water workforce, see below. Getting my bike fixed and some of the parts replaced saves at least ten minutes of ride-time, as the energy formerly turned into friction heat and sideways wobbling gets converted to forward motion. It took me a little less than an hour and ten minutes to get all the way from my house to Brookings.

Program was worth the trip and was especially appropriate given my recent visit to the Milwaukee sewage plant.

Key points are that the labor force in the water industry, including sewage, drinking water and related functions like plumbers, is relatively old, 50+% are eligible to retire and it is hard to replace them with suitable workers.

One problem is the general labor shortage. With unemployment so low, it is just hard to find people. Making it worse, the work is semi-skilled, so people cannot just do it right out of the box. There is also a security aspect. Water is a sensitive industry. Workers must pass drug tests and it is sometimes hard for ex-cons to get a clearance, more on that below. It is also getting hard just to find guys who will show up on time every day.

The water industry jobs pay above average wages. The woman at the Milwaukee sewage plant told me that starting wages are $30-35 an hour. However, they still have trouble getting qualified help. It is often a dirty job, sometimes out in the elements in stinky places, and many people prefer to work in comfortable offices and complain about their low pay.
We heard from Louisiana Congressman Garret Graves. He said that we spend way too much money reacting to disasters and way too little anticipating and mitigating them. Hurricane Katrina, for example, was largely a man-made disaster. Nature provided the wind and water, but Louisiana and New Orleans were not properly prepared and that made it a disaster.

He talked about the need to build infrastructure – human and physical, grey and green – but not just dump money in an inefficient system. In Louisiana, for example, they were able to get jobs done for half or a third of the supposed cost by making contracts more open and specifications better.

Some of the best infrastructure is green. Coastal forests and mangroves are some of the best defense against storms and they filter the water between events.
Next came a panel including Kishia Powell, Commissioner, Department of Watershed Management – City of Atlanta, GA, Andrew Kricun, Executive Director and Chief Engineer – Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority (NJ) & Katie Spiker, Senior Federal Policy Analyst – National Skills Coalition.

Andrew Kricun talked about the paradox that unemployment in Camden is more than 10%, but he cannot get enough people to do the jobs in his water facilities. They are addressing that by outreach and training. They understand that much of the training will not directly benefit the water works, since people will find jobs elsewhere, but he talked of the triple bottom line – economy, environment and social good.

Kisa Powell agreed and went on that in Atlanta they were trying to hold onto some of their older workers longer and going to non-traditional places to find new ones. For example, they have a program with the local prisons to train convicts while still in the joint for jobs they may take when they get out. This is another instance of a social benefit.Ex-cons can have trouble finding work and can too easily slip back into the ways that got them in jail in the first place. A steady and demanding job can help keep them on the straight and narrow.
They all emphasized that it is better to anticipate and avoid than to react to crisis. Emergency repairs can cost 3-5 times as much as fixing it in time.

They also touted the benefits of preparation and green infrastructure. Rain gardens, for example, can avoid overflows at the sewage plants. The water still finds its way back into the rivers, but slowly and usefully.

Everybody talked about the problem of just finding out what is going on. There are lots of good ideas, but they need more connectors. I have thought about this a lot myself. Connectors are very important, but they get no respect. Everybody thinks they are just talking to people and traveling and too many think that either communication happens by itself or that there can be some kind of centralized system that does it all.

Notes on earlier water program.

Wisconsin and Land Grant Universities

One of the best pieces of legislation ever enacted was the Morrill Act of 1862 that created the land grant colleges. As with most successful developments, this was both a continuation and a break with tradition. Universities had been elite institutions for the study of things not very practical. Then there were trade schools that were nothing but practical. The mission of the land grant schools was to study and promulgate useful arts and sciences, like agriculture and engineering. This merged the thinkers with the doers.
It is said of intellectuals that they are not happy with something that works in practice until they understand it in theory. This is usually meant as a put down, but I would consider it a compliment. Understanding the theory of something helps you make improvements. An outcome may be the result of good or bad luck. Only if you understand something of what is supposed to happen can you tease out the causes. On the other hand, theories that never have manifestations in the real world are a type of mental auto-eroticism. We need a cross fertilization and land grant colleges did that.

Much of America’s prosperity today is the result of this wise legislation. and of the enthusiasm that recipients took of the opportunity

I thought of this as I walked around the University of Wisconsin. I noticed the faculty of soil science. Imagine all the good that came from these generations of scientists studying what others dismissed as dirt. I also passed a plaque to Fredrick Jackson Turner. He was a Wisconsin guy too. His contribution to history was the frontier thesis. It is out of style these days and there are flaws, but his was a bold step in understanding our national character.
It was great being a student at UW. You could find somebody who studied almost anything. They even had a class in Hittite. I thought of taking it, but then thought harder.

My first picture shows the Frederick Jackson Turner plaque. Next is the faculty of soil science. The third picture shows the high water on the lakes, higher than I recall ever seeing it. Second last is the old history building. I was so excited to go there that I even claimed to like that hideous building. Last is the Wisconsin State Capitol, modeled on the U.S. Capitol but shorter. No state Capitol is allowed to be taller than the U.S. Capitol.

Note the picture on the banner near the history building. Pink flamingos. That has some history that is not well known, but I recall personally. Student government at UW had fallen into ruin and leftist control in the late 1970s. One of the parties that ran in the elections was actually called “Smash the State.” Enter “Pail & Shovel”. They were some clowns, literally, who ran on the platform that “Student government is a bad joke. We will make it a good one.” Among their promises was to put thousands of flamingos on Bascom Hill. They won the elections and kept their promise. One day when I came to class, I saw the hill pink with those plastic birds. Some said it was a waste of money, but considering the general track record, not so much.

Last group of Wisconsin – Madison photos. The top one is a little scary. It is like big brother watching you, except that the Badger Eyes are on you. “Our Badger Eyes are everywhere.” Don’t like the idea.

The others are things I thought were interesting and the last one is an candid selfie. I was trying to take a picture of the path, but the camera has a turn around feature.

A Landscape of Memory

I would have preferred a sunny day, but the rain was where I wanted to go when I wanted to be there, so I shared my walk with the raindrops.  It did not rain the whole time, anyway, and it stopped just about the time I got back to my car.

Walking in the rain confers some benefits.  You are much more likely to have privacy on the path when it is raining, and the rain provides a soothing soundtrack as it falls into the woods.  It also makes everything glimmer a little.  Rain is not something always to be a avoided.

I wanted to walk along my old running trail.  While at Madison, 1977-81, I ran on that trail hundreds, maybe thousands of times.  I used to run a lot. Started at the old red gym, I ran out to picnic point. It took around twenty minutes. Sometimes I ran all the way back too, but most of the time I stopped about half way and enjoyed the walk.  It was good to run along that trail because there were lots of other runners and if you ran to slowly they implicitly “lazy shamed” you.  I never chose to race anybody who passed me, but I tried to keep a pace sufficiently fast that few people did.  I ran in all weather, except when snow and ice covered the trails. In Wisconsin that is a lot of time, but rather less than you might expect, since the university plowed the paved parts of the trail.

My favorite trail surface is the dirt and gravel that you see in the picture on top.  It is a dubious assumption that the relatively softer but uneven surface is better for your legs than the harder but smooth asphalt.  What I liked was the texture and the sound of my feet hitting that dirt and then the sound of my own breathing. By the time I got to the dirt, my body was in energy saving mode, and I would take deep and comfortable breaths.  I know it is silly, but I felt part of the nature doing that. I would never run on tracks.

My time in Madison before I met Chrissy was the loneliness of my life.  Paradoxically, it was also the time when I had the greatest number of friends.  I resolve that paradox by recalling that most of my friendships at that time were ephemeral and episodic.  I was often alone in the crowd. One of my problems is that I just do not love sports the way many guys do.  I would watch the games more out of duty than pleasure.  I did (and do) like to watch the Green Bay Packers, but even there I lack the enthusiasm of the real fan.

I spent most of my life in and between Memorial Library, the Red Gym, the Student Union (Ratskeller) and my running trails. I did not spend much time at home, since for most of my student days the places I rented were not attractive.  One year, I shared what had been a bigger room with another guy.  We had a wall made of cardboard boxes, probably a fire hazard.  The year after that, I did not have a room at all.  I used the couch when it was cold and the back porch when it was warmer.  I paid something like $35 a month rent that year – saved the big bucks.

Still and all, I look back on my Madison days with great fondness.  It was my formative time, when I came to understand what I liked and did not like, and I could contemplate the type of life I wanted, even if the details were foggy.  That is why I still like to haunt some of the same of places.  It is a landscape of memory that still has meaning for me.

Top two pictures show the running trail. Second one is a nice oak savanna.  Next is the student union, followed by the red gym and the library.  That church across the street is new.  It is kind of medieval. That used to be the Catholic Center.  Guess they owned the land.

A June Day in Milwaukee

Milwaukee Sewage Plant

You didn’t need a weather vane or even to hold your finger to the wind to know which way the wind was blowing when we lived near Lake Michigan in Milwaukee. An east wind blowing in from the Lake brought relief from the heat of summer, but the price was the smell. We lived less than a mile from Lake Michigan and from the Milwaukee sewage treatment plant. It is better now than it was when I was a kid, but I still thought it might be interesting to see the place we had so often smelled by never saw close up. So with my sister, Christine Matel Milewski, and cousins Mary Karshna Robertson and Dick Karshna, we went to look at the plant.

When it was built in 1926, the sewage treatment plant was one of the best in the world. It still is. Some of the original tanks and facilities are still working.

A big challenge for the sewage plant is that Milwaukee originally had a combined sewer system. That means that rain water that runs into storm sewers mixes with sanitary sewer that run from toilets and drains. In 1926 this made sense. The cleaner storm water periodically flushed out the system. The cost was that when storms were severe, there was too much to process. One inch of rain over the area covered by the sewer system. drops 7.1 billion gallons into the system. The excess went out into Lake Michigan, partially treated.
Milwaukee addressed this problem in 1994 by building tunnels deep under the city. During big storms, the water is shunted into the tunnels and processed when there is capacity. Partially treated water is sometimes still discharged. The woman at the sewage plant said that it had been almost two years since this last happened. Ironically, I just saw on the news that the sewers had backed up today. We had a couple inches of rain in a short time, following a lot of rain yesterday.

I was also interested in biosolids. We have used them on the tree farms, but they are hard to get. Milwaukee makes fertilizer out Milwaukee’s crap. Milorgranite is very well processed so that it can be used even on food crops.

The sewage process also produces methane, which is used to run the plant.
When the water is discharged into Lake Michigan, it is 98% clean. Not sure what that means exactly, but it is clean enough. The area around the discharge is full of sea birds because it is attractive to fish. What the fish like it the highly aerated water.
The pictures show the process. Sewage is first filtered by screens. Lots of stuff finds its way into the sewers, things like shopping carts, mobile phones and even bowling balls. These are taken to landfills. Next they filer our coarse materials like sand and grit. It then goes into settling tanks, where settling materials are removed at the bottom, while grease and soaps are skimmed off the top as they float on top of the water.

After that, the water goes into digester, where microorganism literally eat the sewage. These are also aerators. Lots of air is pumped in to give the microorganisms a little help. The microorganisms live for only 7-10 days. They spend their short lives eating & reproducing. They settle to the bottom when they die, where they are processed into Milorgranite. The progeny are recycled into the next batch. Milwaukee put in the first microorganisms in 1926 and the community has been in business ever since. The microorganisms are hard working employees. After the microorganisms are done, the water is chlorinated to kill any pathogens that somehow made it through. Then the chlorine is neutralized and the water discharged into Lake Michigan.

First picture is the skimmer, followed by the digester. Picture #3 show some of that rain that overwhelmed the system. Next is Lake Michigan south of the plant. You see a group of geese going one way and a group of boats towed in the other way. Last is a Lake Michigan vista looking north.

Old World Wisconsin

Wisconsin was demographically more like Mitteleuropa than middle America in the late 19th Century.  The majority of the population was immigrants or their children.  The biggest ethnic group was German, but there were lots of Norwegian, Swedes, Poles, Fins and various others.

At first, they looked for their fellows from their own countries, but very soon they were merging into the culture that became Wisconsin’s.

America was MORE a nation of immigrants back in the late 19th Century than it is today, and they were MORE diverse.  It is fashionable today to talk about diversity only in terms of skin tone, but it is more a matter of culture and habits.  A Polish peasant coming from rural Galicia was more different culturally from an America-born neighbor that a typical immigrant from Nigeria or China is from his American-born neighbor today.  Consider that the Polish peasant may never have heard a word of English before embarking for America.  He would not have read American novels, heard American music and he could not have seen American movies or listened to American radio.  You can find nobody like that today unless you go into the forests in places like the Amazon or New Guinea, even there maybe not.

We look back on the successful integration of immigrants back then and think its was easy.  It took about three generations, which is not that different from now looking at how fast immigrant language become only second languages and then largely disappear.

Our mental model of assimilation is also wrong.  America did not assimilate the immigrants of the late 19th Century.  We integrated them and their cultures into the American whole.  I often choose the Germans as example, since they are Americas biggest ethnic group, at the time of Old World Wisconsin, they made up at least 25% of the American population and a majority of the people in Wisconsin.  People of those days thought they would never fit in completely.    I bet people reading this are surprised how much of America is German.  Why?  Because they fit in so well that we don’t think about it anymore.  Americans think that they are just being American when they have a beer and a hot dog, when they send their kids to kindergarten, eat an apple pie or hamburger.  And these things ARE American, since they are modified from the original.

The value of diversity is that we can appropriate and adapt the more useful or attractive parts of the cultures we meet, while sharing ours with them.   Appropriate AND adapt.  We do NOT want to keep the cultures pure or separated and we should never encourage people to keep the old ways.  If you want to see and appreciate the old ways, you can go to places like Old World Wisconsin.  In Old World Wisconsin, you can see the roots of lots of our habits and behaviors.  We are today more aware of the flowers and the fruits.
The first two pictures show livestock. They have heirloom breeds, like those immigrant would have owned. Next is the Polish house, followed by a Norwegian house. These are actual structures moved to Old World Wisconsin from other parts of the state.  Last is a schoolhouse. Immigrants thought education was the way to the future and they were right, so they build schools like that. They taught only in English, often using the famous  McGuffey Readers to teach reading and wider America culture.


I wish I did not go, but I am glad I went.  I took much less joy in my trip to Mauthe Lake because of all the dead ash trees all along the road on the way up and then all around the lake.  The emerald ash beetle and killed almost all of them.  I did not appreciate how many ash trees there were until I saw all the skeletons.

What to do about it?  Last time I was here, I wrote about possible solutions using GMOs. Maybe we could develop ash trees naturally resistant.  But maybe it is just the impermanent.  I also wrote about the vastness of geological time last time I was here.  The ice day did not end very long ago in the great scheme of things.  The ash forests are recent.  This kind of geography would be dominated by tupelo and bald cypress if they were farther south.  Global warming has made most concepts of “native” almost meaningless. Maybe it is time for tupelos and bald cypress in anticipation of the “new” climate.  I don’t know about tupelos, but I know that bald cypress can survive and thrive in Wisconsin, although they are not native to the state.  They tend not to reproduce is the cooler climate, but if the climate becomes less cold, maybe that will change.

I like the woods and fields familiar from my youth. Mauthe Lake was where I learned to love nature.  We were in a day camp up there when I was in 5th grade. We took the path around the lake that I walked today.  It is only a couple of miles, but for us kids it was a true adventure.  I don’t remember details, but I the feeling abides.  I don’t want change, but change is what we are getting, so we can adapt and make things better or let them get worse.

First picture show a ghost forest of the ash. Next is a recently cut stump. I counted 98 rings. Since I probably missed a few, I figure the tree was more than 100 years old. Not all the ash are dead. You see a healthy one in picture #3. Don’ know why that one did not die. It might be useful to find out and maybe help spread. Picture #4 shows some tamaracks, eponymous of the trail. Tamaracks are very shade intolerant. They tend to grow in place where others do not thrive, places like bogs. Last shows the beech on Mauthe Lake. Glad to see people enjoying being outside.
Facebook reports re Mauthe

Forest Visit June 2018

Went down to the farms to look at the thinning and burning.  Besides just being in my forests and checking on those things, my goal was to try to get rid of some of the ailanthus.  It is an endless struggle. I wish that other – useful – trees were so resilient.  I have trouble telling ailanthus from sumac at a distance and sometimes even close.  I don’t doubt that I have been knocking off sumac too.  Sumac, I like so I am not happy about that.  Sumac does well with fire, at least that is what I observed.  I see a lot of it sprouting from the roots after the burns.

I still worry that the Brodnax fire was a bit too hot.  The heat plumes scorched the needles. Some of the local guys who know fire told me that scorch does not kill southern pine, and that they would come back.  I looked carefully today (see picture).  Most of the trees have some green again.  They will probably make it. Still, I think in future I will want only dormant season burns, and certainly not after they have candled.  The anxiety is too much.  You can see the picture of what the trees on the other side of the fire line looks like.  The fire top killed the hardwoods.  On this land, we are doing patch burns, one-third each year, so we will go after the far section next year and the adjacent one year after that.  That will give us a chance to see the variation and maybe start over again.

Longleaf are doing well on the Freeman place. I went after a few ailanthus among them and knocked out some sweet gum and yellow poplar for good measure.  None of them were big problems.  I think the fire does a good job on them.  Still not sure if we will burn this next year.  I keep going back and forth about it.  Not even sure if I will burn the thinned acreage. The cutter, Kirk McAden, did a really good job and made easy to use fire lanes.  We are going to plant a couple thousand longleaf before Christmas this year.  We have around five acres of that we clear cut. The trees were twenty-two years old and the tract had not been thinned. I feared that if we thinned they would be too likely to be damaged by ice or wind storms.  They had been growing so tight that they did not develop strong enough roots or branches.

I am going to replant myself and get he kids to help.  That may be a good reason to burn, to clear up some of the crap so that they will have an easier time.  Next year (2019), we will plant a lot more into the openings (we created ¼ acre openings on every acre, i.e. 80 acres x ¼ acre or 20 acres total.   Along with some trees under to loblolly, that will be around 10,000 trees.  I think I will need to hire a crew to do that.  It is a bit too much for the kids and me.

Loblolly are just easier to grow than longleaf.  I was looking at the Brodnax place where we planted about 30 acres of loblolly and a little more than 15 of longleaf in 2016. The loblolly now come up to my waist and they are competing well with the vegetation, see the picture below. The longleaf are still in the grass stage and I am not sure the ones in the vegetation are even alive.  We burned last year. This top killed the hardwood brush by the other vegetation came up like mad.  You really don’t need to plant loblolly at all.  They come up whether you want them or not. There are probably twice as many loblolly now growing than we planted.  In theory, the planted ones are better genetically and will grow faster.  We will see in a couple years if the rows are much better than the random.  I bet that there are more natural regenerated loblolly on the longleaf plots than there are longleaf.
Anyway, thinking about how the forests are growing is a great joy.  I have an idea of what I want and I guess about how it will play out, but it is always a surprise.

Picture up top shows the loblolly among the ground cover on Brodnax.  The first one below is the longleaf on Brodnax. You can see the difference Bu.t they CAN grow similarly.  The next picture shows a longleaf and a loblolly on Freeman.  Both were planted in 2012 and they are just about the same size. Below that are pictures of the un-burned and the burned one next to it.