Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I Am Become Blade, Destroyer Of Shrubs

Just inside Twig Forest, looking back to the "road".

Earlier this year, we applied for a little grant to help small tree farmers manage their forests. We did not get it, but the process brought the county forester out to walk Twig Forest. She liked what she saw, said our trees were in good shape.

Concerned about fire, I asked her about the gallberries and palmettoes that fill in much of the gaps between the pine trees. She said those weren't such a concern, but it would be a good idea to whack taller shrubs and hardwoods that were creeping up here and there.
They had the potential to take a relatively harmless ground fire up into the canopy, which would be disastrous for our timber.

So, last week, on a cold day that promised no mosquitoes, I headed into twiggy with my machete ... and my big ticket snakeproof boots.

Mrs. FC bought them for me about a year ago and mostly they sit in the closet because I am forgetful.
I did slip out of my sneakers and into their protective embrace after parking the JEEP on this day.

Actually they were pretty comfortable and allowed me to just plow through palmettoes, rather than picking my way through, looking for rattlesnakes.

It sure beats the way my cousin Rick and I went through palmetto patches as kids. Playing in the woods behind our houses, the standard procedure when you encountered a bunch of palmettoes was to run through it as fast as you could, hoping that your feet never touched the ground long enough for any rattler to get his act together and strike.

It seemed to work, as we are both still here,

Here's an old JEEP trail through the planted pines. Sometimes this stretch is flooded and it seems to keep the palmettoes from growing here. I hacked my way to it and then enjoyed a leisurely walk, stopping only when I spotted a wax myrtle that had grown tall enough to be a fire threat.

Like this one.
This is a before picture.

Myrtle is a soft wood and yields easily to a too dull machete.
Note to self: Sharpen before next trip and bring file along.

This shot is the same scene as in the "before" shot, a few pics back.
I only spent an hour or so walking and whacking. It wasn't a work day so much as a pleasant walk with occasional chores.
From now on, each time I visit, I'll take out those taller bushes that threaten our tree crop.
I'm due back soon as I need to rake some pine needle mulch for my blueberry bushes who are even now resting and dreaming of the berries they will make for me this spring.


Suwannee Refugee said...

Good idea about the boots! No need to tempt fate or a snake.

Pablo said...

I could enjoy a weekly post about the twig farm, but you already knew that.

Does that myrtle sprout from where you cut it? Will it come back or is it dealt with?

Why not a hand saw rather than a machete? or in addition to a machete?

I've always been grateful when I've had authorities walk my woods with me. They help me direct my efforts a bit more intelligently.

threecollie said...

Very interesting post. So many different worlds contained in our one great nation. We are certainly fortunate.

ImagineMel said...

oooohhhh, can I get some good hot dog roasting sticks from there?? :) hope you're enjoying your break as much as me!

Caroline said...

Given some of our childhood adventures in local fields, woods and wet places, it is a wonder that there were not more trips to the ER for the lot of us! The joys of long free days of exploring the world, maybe being 10 years old again for a while would be fun!

cndymkr / jean said...

After the last run in with a snake I'm surprised to didn't wear waders. Thanks for taking care of the forest I (and many others) appreciate it.

Cathy S. said...

My crazy blueberry bushes (on the back porch in an earth box) bloomed last week. Should I pinch off the blooms and make them wait for warmer weather?

SophieMae said...

Dawg! That's some before/after! Why don't they make machetes with loop-end handles? So they can't slip outa your hand, knowwhutImeanVern? Re your almost moc-misstep, been there done exactly that, when I was just a youngun. I didn't sneak out again for a lonnnnng time. 8-}

I can finally start catching up after 7PM tomorrow, which is when I hook up my new DSL thingamabob from CenturyLink. WooHoo! How's HughesNet working out for you?

Miz S said...

So, 'splain this to me. The pine trees are planted on purpose to be harvested? But how do you harvest in such a way as to not denude the entire plot? Do you do it in waves? And who does the harvesting? I'm curious about this.

debbie said...

Where is that lighthouse at? It looks like St. Marks.

Floridacracker said...

It was nice to have a little protection.

Question authority.
I just like swinging the machete. The myrtles will resprout, but I'm not in to chemical herbicides.

True! Such great variety.

How many do you need?

Ten is pretty sweet.

It's a pleasure stewarding a forest.

Cathy S,
Ack! here that would be a definite problem. You are far enough south ...I just don't know. Maybe Dani could give advice here, I think she has blueberries and she's down south your way.

Hughesnet is okay since it is about all I can do way out here. Your DSL is great news!

Miz S,
They are planted pines, just as if they were corn or beans, so harvesting the whole 20 acres would not be out of character. When we decide to harvest, we will probably stagger it. For instance, harvesting every third row is common. Independent contractors bid to harvest your timber.

I made it up to St. Marks yesterday!

amarkonmywall said...

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

These are nice ones- tall and straight. Time is certainly flying by because I remember twig forest when it was, well, twig forest.

I really enjoyed that cold mosquito free day. Made feeding the hawks a leisurely pleasure instead of "hurry up and eat, already!"

Sayre said...

I was thinking that looked like "my" lighthouse! We used to live very close to the refuge and still go there a few times a year. I was also thinking that your pictures looked like you could be walking around in my neck of the woods.

robin andrea said...

I like those boots. A very good idea. I also like your new header (I liked the previous one too, and forgot to mention it!).

SophieMae said...

St M?! You did not! Get - your - self - OUTA here! My connection is so slow - moreso than usual lately - I didn't even see the header shot earlier. Why? How long? Alone? I thought about heading over there myownself the other day, but had too many obligations to attend before year's end. dern

Aunty Belle said...

Oh how gorgeous--love the lighthouse header! Glorious!

An' the twiggy farm? Whar's I been--din't know ya had a twig farm, an' why'n the heck din't they give ya yore grant??

Hooray fer Sophie Mae an' the DSL!

>>>but uh, whar' is St. Marks ? Why go thar?

Happy New year to all at PFHQ!

ImagineMel said...

LOL...ten or so! I heard you're going to need them tonight too! Happy New Year to all! :)

jojo said...

noooo! get lynn or Jan to come for a visit with their goats. That will take care of the myrtle for ya. and the ivy. brazilian pepper. potatoe vines and whatnot! oh.ohy. we die for that booty here.

i drive around the neighborhood and pick up peoples cut downs! :)

amarkonmywall said... your sidebar! How long has that been up? Probably a long time. You probably even blogged about it and I missed it. But FC! You've turned that dog into a pin-up calendar! You crack me up. It's possible I need a calendar that includes a picture answering the age old question, " Does a Bear s**t in the woods?"

Anonymous said...

Hi FC,

Happy New Year!


rick said...

how we survived back then Ill never know.

Floridacracker said...

I know! Those trees are growing like weeds!
As for Bear the pinup, I made it for my Mom, who is completely smitten with Bearzy. Then I thought I'd share since he sorta has a following.

Yup! That's your lighthouse!

Thanks! I liked that very surfable wave too, but the lighthouse couldn't wait.

Tuesday. I didn't plan it, just headed north and before I knew it I was at Econfina and then it seemed crazy not to go all the way to St.Marks.
Looked for you, I know you go there alot!

Well, for the lighthouse of course! LOL!
St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, south of Seminole Town. A gazillion acres of saltmarsh, impoundments, waterfowl, etc.
Twig Forest is a 20 acre planted pine forest we own along with my brother. Obviously, I don't post about it enough!

Ten or a hundred, no big deal! Quiet here this new years eve. Very quiet.

Jan and I have talked before about me borrowing a few goats.

Thanks! Happy New Years to you too!

Charmed life.

S N B said...

Hey! That's our lighthouse!
Are they letting you walk out there again or did you miss the signs? I was sad when they posted that you could not go along the shore there. Nice pic.

Dani said...

Happy New Year FC and family!

Floridacracker said...

SNB, I didn't see any signs and the refuge Ranger was chatting with a group down on the shore. There were signs restricting access above the high tide line.
Stayed out of there ... after I noticed the signs.

You too! Looking forward to another year of your posts!