Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Time out from farming to deal with a Community Forest issue.

The Eastport Community Forest Association recently came into being as a result of a key document arriving regarding governments intentions towards our communities right to have a say in the management of our adjacent natural resources. You can find the document at NL Outport Life.  It focuses on a few of the issues that had been outstanding and keeping our local process in limbo for the past year or so.

While not perfect, it goes a long way towards enabling communities along the coast of Newfoundland to have more of a say in how their future will unfold. So it's a good thing, and one which all involved should be proud to be a part of.

Sometimes this organic farmer is an activist too. Gotta fight the good fight after all.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Fencing is ALOT of work

Started running some fence line through our woods today. Measuring where the rails will go between trees and where I need to put up posts. This might not seem like a big project (at least it didn't seem like that big a project to me when I dreamed it up), but it is huge.

I started two years ago. First step was cutting the rails, peeling them and sanding down the knots so they wouldn't rot. Then I had to trim each piece to fit the required lengths for the fence I'm planning. It will mostly run through woods and around the edge of already established fields, but some lengths of it will be through open field, and that part will require a free standing fence. Since I just lease the field, I'm just going to put up a 'Russel Fence'. Some call it a cariboo fence, I've also heard it referred to as a sawbuck fence.

Cutting and hauling all the fencing and materials to where you want to build a fence, especially if it's through wooded areas, is a massive job. I'd estimate I'm three quarters done with the work, and not one rail is up yet (but that'll soon change)! Pictures to follow in the next couple of days, it was too wet today to take the camera out.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Forestry is sometimes also part of farming

There are things to do in the woods in the winter. Tree pruning is one of them. What is tree pruning and why would I do it? Well, first of all its not what your Mom did around the house every fall with the roses and other shrubs. It's got to do with larger trees eventually destined for human use.

Tree pruning is actually a silviculture practice that, if done properly, will increases the amount of clear wood in a tree's bole. By clippping or sawing the lower branches off the bole (trunk) of a worthwhile tree, you can increase the amount of clear wood that the tree will produce after a number of years. Pruning increases the strength, value, and fibre continuity by reducing the number of knots in the bottom portion of the bole. Since the bottom of the tree is the largest part of bole this is where the majority of the value and volume is and coincidentally where pruning takes place.

There are various tools for pruning. The Japanese have nice tools, as do the Scandinavians. Some people have adapted hand saws, while others use good 'ol bucksaws, it really depends on the size and value of the tree you are working on. The type and quality of the pruning also depends on when you start to treat the individual trees (ie when they were spaces, how long they have been allowed to stretch out under a canopy of larger trees etc.).

Obviously the farther up the tree you prune, the more clear wood you will eventually get. Some tree species are more worthwhile pruning. Black spruce on a medium site will probably never produce a large bole, so it's not worth spending any amount of time pruning up 12-16ft., while a white spruce or larch on good site may be worthwhile as the end result could be a beautiful beam for a log home.

So that's what I'm up to these days, clearing out older forest (for firewood) so younger trees can establish underneath, pruning the more valuable trees, and assessing future sites for growing various forest food like mushrooms. So it all comes around again...

Lots to do, so little time...