Thursday, September 06, 2007

Return To Twig Forest

The game trail that I followed into Twiggy
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.

Ungulate Posturepedic.
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.

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 Crop
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.
Scenic Drive
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?
You bet!
Quite the serendipituitous evening.


Suze said...

I just read about thong trees recently - there is a Google map of an area in the Appalachians where many trees are marked because they are bent, and considered "thong" trees - very cool.

Cathy said...

I don't suppose you told them you'd have locked them in if they'd re-locked the gate behind them :0)

Had to look up 'thong' tree. Am I the only person out here who was clueless? Dang.

Floridacracker said...

It is a neat concept. It would have to be a really, really old tree for me to believe it was anything other than accident like this one.

I was clueless too until I read about them at the fascinating Roundrock Journal blog. The illustrious author of that site is quite the thong man.

pablo said...

Quite the thong man, indeed!

I'm glad to see a post about the twig forest again.

I am skeptical about the claim that the fence builders didn't know how to get ahold of you. Here in Missouri the property owner's name is recorded at the county courthouse, and ten minutes of searching is all that is needed to find contact info.

Also, I'm surprised that your neighbor could do such a big job (clearing the line for fencing) without notifying neighbors. In some states that's required by law. Of course it is also the custom that neighbors split the cost of the common fence, so maybe it's just as well that they didn't contact you.

But it sounds like you have some decent neighbors.

And it reminds me that this winter I intend to get that last quarter mile of my southern boundary surveyed and staked so I know exactly where it is.

rcwbiologist said...

I know that if you eventually clear-cut this your going to plant longleaf right? It looks fairly uphilly in most of the pictures.

threecollie said...

I am the sort of person who locks the gate first and regrets it later...glad you escaped that embarrassment.

ArtfulSub said...

I was expecting you to announce that the main reason you bought the land was BECAUSE of that "Grant Program".

Unless it's changed, it's pretty straight-forward by Government Bureaucracy Standards.

My Uncle figured it out, and he's a troll.

robin andrea said...

I often have those "lock the gate" impusles and am always glad that I don't follow through with them. I do find it interesting that you weren't contacted, but since it seems the other owners were, maybe there is some snafu somewhere. Nice that you met your neighbors, saw a thong tree, and had a good stroll around Twig Forest. A very pretty place.

kathy a. said...

it's great you met some of the other owners and got the key! your trees don't look like twigs anymore -- sounds like you have some forestry research ahead. i'd never heard of thong trees -- how interesting!

jojo said...

Start here for your acreage pine beetle help... i think the grant is for 10 or more acres. I looked it up because i have 16 trees that are dead. pine bore beetle... I'm so upset. My neighbors just don't cut anything down, and then the hurricanes didn't help. But it seems i'm the only property that has so many problems with it... LOL>. par for the course right now....

Sharon said...

I had to look up "thong tree" too! :)

Floridacracker said...

Very true about property ownership. Even our county is online with ownership and maps. These folks are absentee owners who are only up to camp and hunt, so it probably wasn't a burning issue with them.

Any uphill is an illusion. This is true piney flatwoods with some cypressy low area in the back. I do have longleafs here at PFHQ.

I don't go there often enough, so it was only a minor inconvenience, but I was starting to get riled.
Turned out okay tho.

Nah, we bought it for the land investment and the marketable timber ... and for the sheer pleasure of an investment you can play on.

I think the other owners were contacted because during hunting season, they all camp there in this isolated place and cross each other paths. Whereas, I am three miles away in my comfy house and only visit occasionally.

Kathy A,
Search Roundrock Journal for Thong Tree and if you're brave, search PF for the same. You have been warned ...

Thanks for the link. Sorry about your trees. A few years ago, I had a friend in Gainesville who was forced by the city to cut his beautiful frontyard pines.

If you need a chuckle, search this blog for thong tree.

kathy a. said...

FC -- i don't think you ought to be flaunting your personal undergarments all over the internets, even if they have logos. for one thing, the trees seem to resent it. and the children! they could die of embarassment!!

but what the heck. i seem to get the same response even without public displays of undergarments.

Floridacracker said...

Kathy A,
In my defense... it was a gag gift from a friend that was never gonna be worn by me... looked better on a tree.

rick said...

hey shrimp everywhere!!!!!!!!!

SophieMae said...

I love to see trees doing the Twist. We have a dense, unkempt 'twig forest' next door. As I understand, they're pretty much avian deserts.

Way loved your insect pics. 'Specially the leggy Betty Grable fly. Right offhand, I can't remember what variety it is. They're more willing to pose than some of their flighty cousins. Super job capturing the wasp/gnat face-off!

Have a great, purely Flarda weekend! 8-]

Floridacracker said...

Thanks! I'm thinking this weekend coming up.

A planted pine forest is not teeming with wildlife compared to a sweet hammock with some tree variety. They look foresty, but they really have more in common with a field of corn or some other monocrop.
Glad you liked the bugs!

OldHorsetailSnake said...

This turned out to be a quite a lucky day for you. Is justice.

Floridacracker said...

Just another reminder to keep your cool.