My first farm is still my favorite. I have had the pleasure of watching the progress. The plantation trees, about 110 acres, were planted in 2003. They were the loblolly super trees of 2003. New varieties have since been developed, but these are good. There were also some management benefits. We did pre-commercial thinning and applied biosolids back in 2008. I thought that this was good timing. There is enough fertility in the soil for the first five years because the young forest is living off the decaying brush from the cut. The biosolids gave the boost when needed in the fifth year. We can probably do the first thinning early.
2014 was a good year. It was an unusually cool and wet summer. I was surprised this morning when I went out and actually wanted to wear a light jacket in the early morning. This is August in Virginia. It is supposed to be hotter than this.
The trees have gone through a phase transition this year. They have now mostly closed the canopy, i.e. they are shading out the lower branches. You can see the difference now because you can see into the woods.
About a third of the land – 68 acres out of 178 – is contained in stream management zones or other non-commercial uses. This part changes less.
One thing I have noticed is that there is generally less water in the intermittent streams. I think this is because the pine trees have grown. Their branches are intercepting more of the rain and their roots are soaking more of it up. Nevertheless, it was been wet and you can see the evidence of lots of water. There is mud and sand pretty far up the hills and even on the little stream, you can see that the water flowed over and around the usual beds.
My top picture shows the trees from one of the food plots, now a bit overgrown. Right below is the plot when it was first established with clover in 2008. Below that is Genito Creek. It has a muddy-sand bottom and flows back and forth, undercutting each bank in turn and meandering across a fairly wide area. Next is my road. You can see the way the water made ripples with the pine needles. Below are the sycamores along the path. The path is now covered with vegetation. Finally, the bottom picture shows how the water ran out of the stream bed and over the bank. This little stream stays where it because the lower bed is solid stone. This is one of my favorite places. The water makes beautiful music.