Saturday, January 14, 2006
Bushwhacking At Twig Forest
Last weekend, Kate, Jr. and I went to our pine plantation to do some exploring. (In an earlier post, I mentioned this 20 acre woodland that my brother, my better half, and I had purchased)
Due to a busy schedule, we had not explored Twiggy much since the purchase, even though it's only 3 miles away. So off we went. Kate was happy, because she had not seen it yet, and Jr. was happy because I handed him the machete. He is a rabid Starwars fan and fancies himself quite the swordsman. The machete doesn't light up or buzz, but it does have a satisfying metallic clatangally sound when it cuts brush.
As you can see from the photo, Twiggy is thick with brush. When I look at Pablo's woodlands or Wayne's forested hills, I am a little envious of their open expanses.The photo shows an area of average thickness, much of Twiggy is even more densely covered with palmetto and gallberry.
The pines are planted in long lines on elevated rows that look like a giant had been gardening. Zanne would feel right at home here since she grew up in Florida's panhandle and has commented before about the smell of pines and the southern memories their scent evokes. On the other hand, Hick would laugh at my puny slash pines and their cones. Her sugar pines are huge and make 2 foot (approximately :) pine cones.
What Twig Forest needs is a good controlled burn, Swamp4me is probably thinking that as she looks at that picture. I would love to control burn some parts of it, but with a carpet of pine needles and no well for water, it's a little risky at this time. I try and avoid conflagration.
We pushed in to the woods at the wet end, which was a mistake since it was a cold day and none of us were in the mood for wet sneakers. At least we weren't hiking in flip flops like the Pirate does. The property is a right triangle, not band-aide shaped like Thingfish23's place. We had walked in from the East side where there is a bayhead...not a bay like Rexroth's Daughter likes to walk along, but a bay-head. It's a local term for a swampy boggy spot with trees.
It was getting squishier and squishier as we walked along, so we cut in from the East side and walked into the interior. The land sloped up slightly (only a foot or so) moving west and the vegetation between the planted pines became thicker. Most of it consisted of palmetto, gallberry, deer tongue, and wiregrass. I left the kids and moved on. I have never been able to walk slow and Jr. was denuding his immediate surroundings so thoroughly that he was making little forward progress. Kate stayed with him since it gave her something to supervise. She loves being in charge of something...even bushwhacking. Those of you with teen daughters....like Laura and Rick can probably relate to this.
I saw plenty of hog tracks and some deer sign. Hopefully the tracks I saw were normal deer and not the devil spawn alien deer that Rurality has on her place. After seeing her game camera pictures, I am rethinking getting one of those gadgets. What if I have glowing lazer vision deer here? Do I really want to know that? Sometimes, ignorance is bliss.
As I walked, I came to a snag where a woodpecker was sending pine bark flying. It could have been a downy, but was possibly a hairy. They look so similar to me and it was backlit by the sun.If this were a game show, I would call a friend. Deb would be able to ID that bird, but it flew away before I could. The palmetto and gallberry thickets were a twitter with LGB's...warblers that are too small and quick for me to photograph. I "pished" them in closer, but not close enough for a good shot. They were so busy, they reminded me of Vicki's excellent post about her finches and their personalities...birdanalities?
The constant clangdanglaly of Jr.s machete was fainter behind me, but it's sound and the lack of screams told me that he and his sister were safe. I had given them the safety talk before we entered the woods.
"Don't get hurt. Any questions?"
My wife worries about snakes (not Old Horsetail Snakes), but when it's this cold, our diamondbacks and cottonmouths are snuggled under stuff, so the woods are pretty safe for bushwhacking. I imagine that someday she will grow Weary of telling me to be careful, but it's only a dream I have.
Kate and Jr. eventually caught up to me as I had stopped at a possible spot for the campfire ring, pitcher pump shallow well, and chickee style shelter. It is an existing clearing in the planted pines, not a moonmeadow, but a palmetto glade. We could make a campsite here with little tree removal. The fire ring and even a shallow driven well is pretty simple stuff to do. A pipe driven 10 feet down should provide plenty of water for camping purposes. A cheap pitcher pump and we are in business. The chickee would be a nice touch for getting off the ground. Damn this remodeling that keeps me from building fun stuff! Oh well, I can dream.
The sun was dropping by now, we had arrived in the afternoon and even in the subtropics, the winter day is short. We resolved to come back and work on this spot and then hacked our way back out to the dirt road where my faithful Jeep waited.
I was ready for some Kung Pao and a beer...it was Saturday after all.
Posted by R.Powers at 7:54 PM