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 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 was Saturday after all.

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Deb said...

Cool how you worked all of your blogging friends into the story! I, for one, happened to see two Pileated woodpeckers as I was walking my dog this morning. Quite a treat.

Such geat memories come from these experiences. I was just looking back in our cabin photo album...very similar...

Floridacracker said...

Now there's a bird with a wide range. We have them...a lot of them. Such a great jungle sound call they make.

pablo said...

Yes! A post about the Twig Forest. I've been waiting patiently, and now I've been rewarded. Such a clever post (though my woods are not all that open). One year for our anniversary, Libby and I gave each other machetes. Touching.

I hope you have plenty of chance to post about the Twig Forest!

Zanne said...

I've been waiting too, and now you've mentioned a possible Chickee!!!! Woo Hoo. That would be great. I've never had a better nights sleep than sleeping under a thatched roof during a rainstorm. (Not a drop of water made it through the fronds).

Floridacracker said...

I have been remiss. More to come, I promise. This is the best time to be there, it will be a sweltering, steamy, mosquito haven this summer. Winter is woods time here.

Not a single drop? You are setting a high standard for any future chickee I build. I wonder if Home Depot makes a "Chickee Construction 1-2-3" book?

swamp4me said...

Yep, a little fire in the right place is a wonderous thing...
Should you get brave, Treebeard's an experienced burnboss and I have a drip torch ready. Of course it would have to wait until after my May 5th exams and successful completion of the POPAT in 7 minutes, 20 seconds ;)

Floridacracker said...

It's good to know people with special skills. I'm keeping that in mind.

If POPAT is what I think it is, just remember sight picture, breath control, and a steady squeeze on the T.
If it's not what I think it is, just ignore that advice.

Rurality said...

Heh, nice job. You DO need a game camera! You'll never know whether you have those alien deer unless you get one.

Rexroth's Daughter said...

Hey FC-- I made some kung pao chicken the other night, after you had mentioned it in another post. Love that kung pao, and a walk along any bay!

roger said...

my feet dry out quickly in thongs, but the mud does suck em right off my feet too. i ilke your "safety talk."

you're getting to be quite the land baron fc. well, anyway on the scale of most of us. (not you pablo, master of both rocks and timbers) twiggy looks to be quite project. what next? a blogger's chickee? wireless access?

Floridacracker said...

I think I already have them. The dogs are afraid to get off the porch at night.

I actually have to make Kung Pao every (almost) Saturday night for my bride. Actually, it started as Kung Pao but has evolved into something Chinese and spicy, but not exactly KP.

Wireless out here? When pigs fly!
Land investing is so much more fun than stocks and bonds...more painful to sell though.

Rexroth's Daughter said...

FC-- Would you share you recipe. I have one I copied from some internet site. It's good enough, but I'd be interested in see what you do.

thingfish23 said...

I woke up this AM to a pileted woodpecker concerto - on the side of our house. It was abrupt, but far from annoying.

That was a very interesting post, FC. I'd love to know two things:

1. how did you code in the different colors for your links
2. will you explain more about the pump you wish to install

bonus - why does your bro post even less often than I do? ;)

Hick said...

Any place with that many pines is home to me...

Loved this post and the commentary regarding your forest. It is very thick with undergrowth. In CA you would be in constant fear of fire. Nerd Boy has a lot in common with your sword wielding son.

Floridacracker said...

It is so simple, I feel silly calling it a recipe, but it is so good. Let me do this, I will quiz Mom more about Selmo the Italian boarder and make it a family history post with recipe. Give me time.

I too worry about us losing our pine crop to fire. Twiggy is in sore need of management to prevent such a disaster.
I had a feeling Nerd Boy might have similar inclinations...

Color: Up next to the create a link button is the text color button. Highlight your text and click that button for color choices.
Pump: Where the water table is high, you can buy a well point and pile drive a pipe down to the water source. We are talking very shallow wells. Then cap it when not in use. When using, take a pitcher pump and some water to prime it and agua happens.

My brother not posting, hmmm. I know he had some computer problems for a while and he's in to a whole house tear down and remodel. It could be that...or it could be the waves have been really good lately.