You may recall that we own a twenty acre planted pine plantation in partnership with my big brother. We call this bit of timber "Twig Forest" after the uniformly skinny young pines that grow in neat rows across this triangle-shaped piece of land.
Access to the property is via an easement on a private "road" that snakes through other similar, but squarer pieces of piney woods. Some of these are larger tracts, but none are smaller as the land use plan here forbids tracts smaller than 20 acres.
There are a number of gates on the access road and these are supposed to have a combination lock that all the owners share. A month ago, when I made a spur of the moment (I drive by Twiggy's access road on my drive home from work) jaunt in to see how Twiggy was doing, I found that I was locked out. The combo lock was gone and in it's place were two keyed padlocks linked together in the chain that held the gate closed.
Hmmmmm. I made a call to my real estate friend and agent right on the spot. No answer, so I left a message.
Later, through the grapevine, I heard that the combination lock had been reinstalled. The reason it was taken off was a fellow property owner's hunt camp had burned. The padlock combination was known by lots of people and did not seem secure.
Somehow, I slipped through the cracks in the notification process.
Tonight, around 5:30 pm, with a bright sun still shining above, I decided to see if I could indeed get into my property.
I had made my mind up that if the gate were still key padlocked, I would install my own chain and padlock around the gate with a contact number.
Let's see how they like it. I figured that would get the lock owner's attention.
As it turned out, the gate was wide open as the JEEP and I bounced along the dirt track that we laughingly call a "road".
New Fence. The forest to the right is Twiggy.
Hooray! I wasn't worried about being locked in as I had my snatch rope in the mighty JEEP and had already decided my course of action would be to hook up to the gate and pull it off the posts if that occurred.
I'd just about used up my patient nice guy gene.
When I arrived at Twig Forest, a huge change had taken place on the East side of the triangle. The land owner across from Twiggy (who has a seemingly endless supply of money) had bought the property to our East and put in a professionally installed barbed wire fence down our mutual line. He had also cleared and graded a road on his side.
Sweeeeeet! Free fence!
This was a side of our property that I had never walked before as only the corners were staked and the brush was so thick. Tonight I was able to stroll down the entire side admiring the almost ready for market pines as I did.
What's especially coolamundo is this, as I walked out from my new fence line trek, I came out across from a hunt camp consisting of a camper trailer, well, fire pit, and tarp covered picnic table. Sitting in the shade of the tarp were two couples who waved me over.
We exchanged greetings and they said, "Oh so you're the teacher! We've wanted to talk to you, but didn't know how to get in touch."
I explained that I had been locked out for a month. At that, the man reached in his pocket and pulled out an extra key to the gate lock.
"We wanted to get you this, you're the last owner to contact... we just didn't have any contact numbers."
I had a pad and pen in my pocket so we exchanged contact info and a few minutes of pleasant conversation. They were genuinely nice and told me to stop in any time I saw them in camp.
Whew! I'm glad I didn't use the "I'll lock them out and see how they like it!" as my first plan of action.
Walking back into Twig Forest, I found this cozy deer bed tucked in a low grassy area. In rainier times, it appears to be an intermittent pond site, but now it's just a soft bed for mammals of mass destruction.
I spooked two of them and they stopped to snort at me before leaping into the palmetto maze.
Chubby Checkers tree.
Chubby Checkers tree.
This confused pine tree was growing on the edge of the same wetspot. A tree like this is usually doomed to a short life and I see a heck of a carving opportunity here. I'll let it grow, but I have plans for this one if it shows the first sign of decline.
The DBH on these trees is getting to that point where they are right for pulp wood harvest. They were 12 years old when we bought the property two years ago, so the age is right too.
What really needs to be done on Twiggy is a thinning. Typically this is done by harvesting every other row of the closely planted trees. This allows the remaing trees to grow faster and cuts down on the chances for pine bark beetle infestations.
I think there's even a grant program offered for this type of management so I have some homework to do.
The picture above shows the neat roadway I hand chopped into a possible campsite last year.
You don't see it?
Neither do I. These gallberries and palmettoes don't play around. If you don't kill the roots, they pop right back at the speed of light.
I used flash on this final photo as it was late and this was a shady spot. Here we see a pseudothong tree being created not by first immigrant peoples as in the midwest, but by a fallen pine which bent the young cypress. You can still see the broken pine tip lying on the cypress.
So am I glad I got off my butt and took the drive to Twig Forest this evening?
Quite the serendipituitous evening.