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Farewell Forest For Now

Sycamore trees on Johnsonmatel tree farm 

Alex & I went down to the farms today.  It may be my last time in a long time. There was not much I needed to do. I cut down some of the brush that was shading my bald cypress. We are just a little north & east of the natural range of the bald cypress.  I figure if we have climate change, we will be right in the middle.  Since a cypress can live a couple hundred years, it will spend most of its life in that future.  Above are a row of volunteer sycamore trees.  I trimmed out the extra ones as well as the box elder that were among them. Below is my bald cypress, which is across the little road from those sycamores.  This area is not productive from the forestry point of view, but I am making it aesthetically more what I like.

Bald cypress at Johnsonmatel tree farm 

The meadows are overgrown with yarrow & the white flowering plants are towering over and displacing my clover.  Yarrow is supposed to be a medicinal herb and is supposed to cure toothaches and be a disinfectant for cuts.  I don’t dislike the yarrow, but I liked my clover better.  It has been a little dry lately, which seems to favor the yarrow.   Larry Walker and the hunt club planted some wildlife mixture on the top plot.  It seems to have a variety of things, including at least some corn, sunflower and soy.  Below is the corn-sunflower-soy plot and below that is my overgrown yarrow plow and at the end is the same plot last year about this time.  You can see the whole posting at this link.

corn field for wildlife 

http://johnsonmatel.com/2011/June/forestry/First_field1.jpg



We established the plots in 2007.  There was still a lot of clover last year.  Actually, there is still a lot of clover now, but it is under the other stuff.  In any case, what we have is better than what we had.  The wildlife plots are on the old loading decks, used for the harvests.  The soil was compressed and very unattractive.  The meadows now are fairly self-sustaining, although not always in clover.  I still have a little trouble with the tree of heaven.  I am a little worried that the invasive plants will invade while I am in Brazil.  They are always waiting their chance.

Beech forest on Johnsonmatel tree farm

There have been many changes on the farm.  The canopies are closing and as it gets shadier, we have a more open forest. Above is my beech forest, one of my favorite places on the farm.  Below is the creek bed. The creek moved a little in the recent rains.

Genito Creek, Brunswick Co, Johnsonmatel  tree farm 

The Freeman tract is doing well. Undergrowth is already starting to grow. The trees were very close together before the harvest-thinning, so most things were shaded out before. Beyond that, my soils are not really good.  This part of Virginia has very old soils. They did not benefit from the recent glaciation that improved some of the soils in the Midwest. And they were made worse by the cultivation of tobacco & cotton when people didn’t really understand principles of crop rotation. That means much of the land is not very good for crops, which is why it is under pine trees today. I am trying to improve my soils with the clover and biosolids, but there is a long way to go. Below is the newly thinned pines, planted in 1996, with Alex under them for a size comparison.  They grow fast. Now that they are thinned, they will grow even faster.

Alex in front of thinned pines 

15 year old thinned loblolly pines in Brunswick Co Virginia

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