Putting Up A Post with a Harbor Freight Trencher

Ty’s been single-handedly doing a lot of work around these parts for several years now, but he has had a faithful companion to help share the load: his Harbor Freight Trencher.

While the trencher has had its share of maintenance required, Ty has definitely gotten his money’s worth in having it.

Check out his most recent project with this pal of his:

Big Picture Plan: Keeping the Dogwoods

Yesterday the Wiggles went out into our woods. The lesson was about the Dogwood.

Flowering DogwoodThis tree is a valuable component in my long-term Land Stewardship goals. It thrives as a naturalized understory tree on southern/eastern aspects in mid slope areas. It seems to like moist and richer soils, if there is such a thing on unmanaged Oak and Hickory woodland in central VA.

The need for managing the land in three dimensions has become one of my criteria as I attempt to maximize land output while maintaining as low an input as possible.

The land is a solar collector. The land that captures and retains the most energy will by default have the largest output.

The land that produces the most biomass for any given area is the savanna type area that has elephants as primary grazers.

These are forested grasslands. My goal is to have pasture, trees and food crops growing with synergy and sustainability in this savanna-like structure.

The small tree understory region is a key part of the woodland. I am applying silvopasture principles in my approach of converting deep unmanaged woodland into valuable lumber and food trees with grazing underneath.

My management of the herb and shrub layer in the woodland has been less than stellar. It is mostly non-existent, as I have allowed the grazers in. However, many of the dogwoods were above the browse line and are thriving. I will do my best to allow them to stay as I thin the forest for my long-term goals, so I’m having the family mark them with white ribbons. They are there to say, “I am a Dogwood, don’t squish me.”

IMG_0694aI am particularly fond of the Dogwood, as I have known how to identify them even as a child in Oklahoma. The Redbud is more prevalent there but the dogwood shares in that same niche.

I have found the dogwood to be a rather well mannered tree. It is highly adaptable in form. It adjusts itself to the available solar energy without being pushy or demanding. It takes what it gets and seems to generally thrive, though I have seen them suffer in high temperatures and humidity – this more so in Oklahoma than Virginia.

This friendly tree stays in its space with its slow growth and does not seem to demand a lot of pruning and in fact seems to prune itself quite well in many of the specimens I have witnessed. It allows other things to grow around it without feeling the need to crowd them out. It plays well with everyone.

In my woodland, the Dogwood fills that region that seems to be hardest to fill: the region where the future top canopy trees are fighting each other to try to break through with the biggest crown. There are a lot of trees dying in this region but not the Dogwood. It just does its thing without a lot of drama.

The Dogwood adds beauty and diversity. It supports many insect and bird species. It may support wild mammals as well but I am not certain. It is certainly forage for goats, which is probably its highest practical value on our land. Being a slow grower, it is just a light snack every once in a while but that is at least something.

I feel the small tree/large shrub understory is where the greatest potential lies for food and diversity in the medium term time frame. There are many top canopy trees to sort through as I seek to keep the best nut trees, such as White Oaks and Hickories. There are dead standers for firewood. There are poorly formed trees that will just never have the lumber potential that they could have.

Of all the decisions of what trees to take out and what to keep, the Dogwood is one of the easiest. I am keeping them all until I have a reason to change that.

Family Project: Identifying Dogwood Trees in the Woodland

Flowering Dogwood CloseupWe have two beautiful Dogwoods in our front yard, one nestled between the outbuildings behind our house, and dozens scattered throughout the woods that border the back of our property.

Flowering DogwoodThey are not only aesthetically beautiful, but also very well-mannered.

Requiring little to no input or maintenance, they enhance the overall landscape we are aiming for.

Flowering DogwoodGiven their medium size and their preference for dappled shade, they fill a void in the three-dimensional space without being problematic, providing dappled shade themselves.

While the fruit of this species is not meant for human consumption, the trees provide fodder for the birds and animals in their natural habitat as well as our own domesticated herds.

Bark of the DogwoodI imagine there are other benefits of the Dogwood by way of its bark, branches, leaves, root and berries that I am not even aware of yet, such as possible healing properties or resource material for particular sorts of construction or fuel.

Did you know…

The Flowering Dogwood is Virginia’s State Tree and State Flower (and the name of my first elementary school in New Jersey 😉 ).

In an attempt to better manage the trees on our property for both short- and long-term benefit, I think it’s important for our kids to understand what we have, and why we’re doing what we’re doing.

So yesterday, I took the kids out back to our woods equipped with water bottles, hats and marking materials, and had my husband explain the day’s project.  Continue reading “Family Project: Identifying Dogwood Trees in the Woodland”

A Land of Hills and Valleys

For the land that you are entering to take possession of it is not like the land of Egypt, from which you have come, where you sowed your seed and irrigated it, like a garden of vegetables.

But the land that you are going over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water by the rain from heaven, a land that the LORD your God cares for. The eyes of the LORD your God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year. (Deuteronomy 11:10-12 ESV)

Have you ever paid attention to the lay of the land of Egypt…

And the lay of the land the Israelites went in to possess…

Given the natural lay of the land, the Egyptians had to create their own irrigation system to collect rain water throughout the land in order to grow crops. Whereas the Promised Land had a series of hills and valleys that were naturally formed to do the job.  Continue reading “A Land of Hills and Valleys”