Saturday, March 03, 2007

Good Fences (and acreage) Make Good Neighbors

This fence runs along my back (west) boundary. If you were floating above Pure Florida HQ, you would see fences in various states of fenciness on the south, west, and north boundaries. The east fence is mostly horizontal or gone, but that side fronts on a county road. All adjoining properties are 10 or more acres and except for a light through the woods, I can't see my neighbors in any direction.

In fact, I haven't actually SEEN a bonafide Homo sapiens type neighbor in about 3 months.

This post isn't dirt about my neighbors ... obviously, since except for old,retired,bald Fred behind me, I don't have a clue as to their appearance or habits. Fred is easy to remember since he shaves his head, is funny, and used to call from the fence when he first moved into the woods behind me. Then he married a younger woman (Fred is not dead!) and now I only see him a few times a year at the grocery or feed store.

I'm rambling some and need to get to the point. The point of this post is the difference in woodlot philosophy between Fred and I. In the top photo, the left side of the fence is Fred's and the right side of the fence is my place. Fred likes his woods open and he apparently devotes some energy to brushing and clearing under this patch of trees. The last time I saw Fred and his wife Christmas shopping in Wally World, they were buying deer corn and they chatted about how they love to feed and watch the deer we share. It's good that he's feeding them, because he's not leaving them tons of browse material in this part of his woodland. To be fair, all of his property is not quite so city park-like. Fred's a good steward of his 10 acres, but so am I and that's the point of this post, ... there's more than one way to manage an area for wildlife.

The photo above is of Fred's woods taken from the same position as the top fence photo. I merely turned to the left to photograph only his property.

This last photo looking to the right from the same point along the fence. That's Pure Florida.

My focus at Pure Florida is diversity of habitat = diversity of wildlife, so where Fred is underbrushing his trees, I am encouraging shrubby sparkleberies, bays, cedars, palmettos to get it on and make cover and food. At the same time, I control burn small patches to keep open areas so my endangered gopher tortoises can graze on the forbs they require. Mostly it's messy and laissez faire ... like my closet.

The fun part is the tweaking and messing, while hoping you are not messing things up for one critter or plant while you enhance an area for some other. Right now, as an example of tweaking, I am keeping my slowly refilling pond fishless so that the spring amphibian breeding rush can proceed without fish competition. I'll give them a head start and add fish later.

I have a few nesting boxes to install and a platform feeder to make for the groundifinous birds that come to my traditional hanging feeder.

Our deer may be spending time at Fred's feeders this winter, but my brushy, messy forest is loaded with bursting buds and tender new growth and soon they'll be spending lots of time on my side of the fence.

It's self-serve though.

I do not feed the deer ... unless you count my vegetable garden.

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roger said...

i'll take your side of the fence. and you do feed the deer, cafeteria style, their regular food. veggies are dessert. some of our neighbors also go for the manicured forest look. i suppose they are seeking a kinda climax forest look. or a "parklike" appearance. i'd be happy if more of our property had not been cleared.

robin andrea said...

As roger mentions, our neighbors have all manicured their land into park-like settings. We, on the other hand, have a compost pile, manure piles, and other un-park-like things in various places. We let the tangle grow in all the woods that have generously sprung up around our property. A little bit of wild, a little bit of garden.

pablo said...

I confess that my eye is drawn to Fred's open savannah look, but that's probably some of my evolutionary ancestry asserting itself. I know the brushy wilderness is more natural and better. There are only a couple of areas at Roundrock where I've attempted to clear the understory, and they have ben remarkably unsuccessful attempts. But when I cleared Blackberry Corner to create the pine plantation, I know I was actually reducing good quail habitat, at least for the time being.


threecollie said...

What a nice, interesting post. We also subscribe to the let 'er rip style of woodland and pasture management..mostly because we are too busy elsewhere, but it sure does bring birds and wildlife. some more welcome than others. lol

Hal at Ranch Ramblins said...

That's quite an interesting contrast between the two woodlands. My guess is that the combined effect of these two styles of management occuring side by side is probably beneficial to both of you in the long run.

Wayne said...

Well I suppose that Fred's parklike landscape is more fireproof (marginally from the looks of it) but otherwise I think this post is delightful.

We don't have physical fences with our neighbors, and we like our neighbors, in the same way. But the delineations are very clear nonetheless - on *that* side of the property line are vast stands of Microstegium (you knew I'd bring it into the converstation), and our side, there's all kinds, all kinds.

To continue the parallel our neighbors even feed their deer, while we maintain an electric fence to keep them out of a smallish area. (The e-fence isn't along our common boundary.)

When I cut small trees to thin woods that are being drastically overgrown, I pile them in brushpiles as cover for animals. Our neighbor burns his. I realize there are at least two perfectly good points of view about this.

Nonetheless, we get along perfectly well with our neighbors, and that's a good lesson, isn't it?

OldHorsetailSnake said...

If it weren't for the handout, I don't think Fred would have any deer, or not many. Yours is the right way, of course. But Fred's place IS pretty -- just not useful.

Deb said...

I wonder at people who have the time and energy to maintain landscapes like that. I've hardly had the chance to brush a trail through our woods, and if I did have the chance I could think of a few things I'd rather do.

Laura said...

I liked the way Fred's place looked because that way, I can spot the snakes a lot more quickly. ;)

sometimes. they were awfully good at concealing their presence whenever I was out walking and that's when I learned just how fast the human heart can beat.

My hub, of course, would prefer your style because he doesn't mind rummaging through the shrub, ticks or no ticks. (cringe!).

However, I'll bet you have a whole lotta wildlife on your side of the fence, all the better for shelter for them!

Fred must have done a lot of work to get it to that point. Did he do a lot of controlled burning also?

I remember trying to clear parts of our 5 acres up in Hawthorne and I always had the feeling that the vines were vigorously growing new shoots just as fast as I whacked 'em down. They were as determined to get back at me as the heron is.....

Our land sloped down to the water, so the closer we got to shore, the more swamp land we got into, and the harder it was to control underbrush. So we left most of it wild.

I just realized i'm rambling on here, so I'll close. enjoyed the pics and the story!

Floridacracker said...

it's just about time for me to plant their desert tomatoes :)

Sounds like a nice compromise. I actually wish my garden had a few less trees around it, but I find it so painful to take one down.

With your vast land holdings, you have room to try lots of stewardship styles.

Being busy is part of our motivation too!

Good to hear from you! You make a very valid point. Deer love that edge effect between our properties.

Well said. I like my neighbors mostly out of sight, out of mind. Even Fred, when we first met at the back fence said, " I thought about saying hello earlier, but I figured a guy who would live way out here didn't want to be found."
He's a wise man.
To continue the parallels, I tried to post 4 pics in this post, but Blogger wouldn't let me. The fourth pic? One of my brush piles and a description that mirrors what you said about your piles.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I think the deer are just glad that neither one of us has an uncontrollable hunger for venison.

He's way past kid raising age and has time to do that kind of work. Of course, I still won't do that when (sob) that day comes.

We actually caught a coral snake just about 10 feet from where I took this series of photos. We didn't grab it of course, just ushered it into a large trash can and then let it go in a remote uninhabited area down the road ... which we later bought! Serendipity?

The vine/heron alliance ... pretty tough competition.

Alan said...

I'm pretty happy that I don't seem to have any of those hooved varmints around Dun Hagan that I've seen. It's bad enough I have to fence out marauding pigs.

I've got some thick brushy areas on the property that I let go their own way. None of them anywhere near the house or shop though. I really need to clear my fenceline as well, but who knows when I'll get the time.

Speaking of feeding the deer I was at the Garden Gate nursery in Gainesville today and they had at least four varieties of rabbiteye blueberries in stock. Thought you might be interested.


Thunder Dave said...

FC, How much does Fred charge? I'll pay for him to come clean-up your property! Just kidding, of course!

Really is a nice contrast, like you said I would imagine the deer like to hang on the fringe between your's and Fred's property.

I'm having the same issue with Blogger. I've been trying to post some of my travels, but Blogger has decided to not let me upload any new photos. I've decided to at least share the verbage, photos to follow when possible.

Ol' Lurker said...

Sounds like ol' Fred might be kin to them racy little dogwoods. Heh, heh, heh. ;-)

Floridacracker said...

Yes, I'm very interested. I'll get in there this week.

I finally discovered how to resize in Picasa and now I can multiple post again. All my original shots are over the 3MB limit on blogger's server. Didn't have to do this before bloggernouveau, but at least I learned something new.

Ol Lurker,
Hmmmm, yes, you have a point. Maybe Fred's been sipping the dogwood tea ;)

Thunder Dave said...

Aha, that's gotta be my problem too. My camera has too good of picture quality too. I'll have to see what I can do to down grade the shots that don't seem to want to upload. Cheers mate!

Abandoned in Pasadena said...

In our woods we only kept the underbrush cut close to the house, but the rest of the acreage was cover for the wildlife...which I loved to watch.

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