Changing the Land

I can hear the buzzing of the chainsaw as we speak. Then it stops when the tree begins to crack, crashing down my hillside the end of a life.

I was brought up to love and respect trees. I couldn’t imagine ever willing logging a forest.  A forest! full of life and trees that breath oxygen: life to us humans. Loggers in my mind were villains.

Yet here I am. Watching trees, tall firs and cedars, dropping. Not only watching, but I hired the guy to come and do this (okay,actually, the landlord did it when I asked her to). I feel like a terrible hippy, guilt consumes me with every crash I hear.DSCN0692

I wince, and want to cry as I see a mighty cedar tumble.

However, I am also the steward of my land and my animals. That means culling the old, sick and unproductive. These are trees that are ending their period of fast growth. There are a few stands of dead trees. Some are even starting to develop conchs: fungus that eat the weak trees. The cedar are at the age that they begin to rot through the center. Below these trees is an understory of young trees waiting for their elders to fall. Many of the cedar are shoots from the old trees. Where there is life slowing down and dying, there is life waiting to explode. If these are left waiting too long they too will die.

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Not only that, but some of these firs are so tall they are blocking sun to the pasture. By removing some of these I am hoping to improve pasture in the cooler seasons when the sun is low and skirts behind these trees. I can also increase the pasture by possibly a whole acre…though half an acre is more likely. I have concerns about some of the undergrowth allowing predators a place to hide, so away it goes!

For the sake of the pigs I am hoping clearing the forest some will also allow me to fence the woods in and plant trees they can forage around. The logger accidentally took out all my wild filberts thinking I wanted more pasture there, whoops! didn’t realize I was planning on using that for the pigs. Oh well. I can plant new ones that should bear in, oh, sever years.

On a longer time frame is what I need to think. This land was purchased for the sake of creating a permaculture paradise. My ex was into permaculture, I simply tried to provide a place for him to live out his dreams. For me a more conventional farm where I could run a sheep dairy with enough pasture to run an actual business would have been good. But, hey. I’ve got what I’ve got and I’ve got to commit to what the land is and needs.

So here I am. Watching the land get cleared. I was hoping that this would allow me to do some terracing, too. We will see what the land wants and needs when the job is done. There are a few things I am still planning on:

+Digging a holding pond in the middle pasture with a bioswale to the stream. Hopefully this will hold water for a large part of the summer season and give the winter rains a place to flow without loosing nutrients, topsoil and prevent fecal contamination in the stream.

+Digging a swale that leads from the barn to a grassy catchment near the stream that will become an orchard.

+Creating fruiting hedgerows between paddocks.

The rest I am waiting for the land to tell me what to do. In the meantime, I watch the elderly fall giving room to the young

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