Sunday, February 12, 2006

Last Sunday At Twig Forest


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Last Sunday, Emma and Jr. asked if we could go out to Twig Forest. It was one of those glorious blue winter days...there's only so much of wonderful winter left, so off we went.

The dirt logging road into Twiggy was a gauntlet of muddy potholes as we had just finished with 5 inches of rain the Friday before. We flew through the mud spraying it up and over the windshield, bouncing, and having a grand time.

At Twiggy, machetes were distributed and the two kids disappeared to work on a maze of trails they are cutting through the gallberry thickets. I think they have future paintball battles in mind. As on the previous visit, I could hear the ring of machete and constant laughter and teasing so I knew that they were okay.
(That last sentence probably has some child psychologist freaking out right now)

My focus was the drive into Twiggy. On a previous visit the week before BCC surgery, I had cut quite a swath through gallberry and palmetto. The goal was to find and open a simple 4WD passable trail into the property without cutting any pines as this is a working tree farm.

The gallberry bushes and the palmetto, love a pine plantation. They quickly fill in the neat open lanes between the pines if the forest is not managed actively, (remember, it's a crop in this case...not a natural forest) .

Twiggy had been left to grow before we bought it and has gall berry thickets that reach overhead. These are woven together with greenbriar and carolina jessamine. The good news is, gallberry is easy to cut. The bad news is there is a lot of it and each cut leaves a "punji" spike that could be uncomfortable if you were to trip and fall.

We stayed for a couple of hours and I almost finished the drive. There's a windblown pine to remove, a little more palmetto and then I will be out to the front of the property. I found some evidence of pine bark beetle damage, but nothing widespread. That was a reminder that I really need to contact the county forester and ask her for "I'm a new pine tree farmer, help!" advice.

I don't plan to open that last little bit until I put in a few posts and a gate to prevent "Bubba" from driving in and dumping refuse.

I may just go out there when I finish this post.



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12 comments:

OldHorsetailSnake said...

I do believe you have a hefty amount of work in your future. But, what the hey? You're used to that, right?

Since you only have a small tree farm, maybe you can pick off the pine beetles one by one, seeing as how you got a lot of time on your hands.

Rurality said...

I'm interested to hear what they tell you to do about the pine bark beetle. The only remedy I've read about involves cutting down a bunch of trees. If I remember correctly, it's everything within 80 feet of any trees that have the beetles.

Rexroth's Daughter said...

I'm impressed with kids that want to go out and work on a Sunday. That's very cool. Will the gallberry grow up from the root again? It does look like a lot of work, but it sure is going to be great when you have a pine plantation without the gallberry and palmetto. Good luck on the pine bark beetle battle.

Floridacracker said...

Hoss,
I'm ready for a honkin big bulldozer...handpicking...LOL!

Rurality,
I confess to never giving them much thought till this land purchase. Your remedy is basically what I have heard also. I think we'll do something less drastic.

RD,
They were having fun exploring and that is so much better than the TV and the Video games.

vicki said...

I'm laughing at "maladjusted kids" because they look so healthy and I agree with RD- it's great that they're out and about with you. I also agree with Hoss- you appear to have your hands full. What will you do if they all grow with a right angle in their trunks?

The beetle problem interests me because we have whole pine forests and you'll see an occasional tree with tracks but they don't seem to infest and destroy whole areas. Does climate make a difference?

Floridacracker said...

Vicki,
I'm a real newbie to pine tree farming and these beetles. I think they are a southern species.

Florida has draconian ag rules to protect large ag industries and the pinebark beetle has caused many urban dwellers to be forced to lose infected trees.
They also go after home citrus if an outbreak of fruit fly or citrus canker happens. The ag gestapo will forcibly remove your little citrus trees if you fall in the zone of contamination, even if your trees are not infected.

pablo said...

Lemme get this right. The bigger one in the photo is your baby, right?

Floridacracker said...

Pablo,
I can't believe it either. He dwarfs his big sisters, his mom, and I'm next.
3 babies in that picture...My jeep, my Emma, my Jr.

Rurality said...

I believe there is a chemical remedy, but it's not used much because it's so pricy, IIRC.

Floridacracker said...

Rurality,
I think I'll just take my chances and hope it's a normal population of the beetle and not the mass attack that can occur.

doubleknot said...

Lovely journey. Thanks.

Floridacracker said...

Doubleknot,
Thanks for coming along.