Cutting brush

My right arm and hand, left shoulder and both legs hurt today, but I had fun and did some useful work cutting corridors for the fires we plan this winter. The weather was cool on Saturday and not hot on Sunday, so the work was easier.

I love my new cutting head. It can take down decent sized brush, does wonders on brambles and still get at the grass. The other new thing I got are those ear protectors you see in the picture. I can put the earbuds in under them and listen to my audio books – much better than using earplugs.

My bald cypress are my big concern. They survived the fire of 2017, as I confirmed when I see the black marks on the bottom of their trunks. But conditions have changed in that we harvested the nearby loblolly. This gave the cypress lots of sun, and they are responding wonderfully. It also gave more sun to the grasses, sedge and forbs. They have also grown wonderfully and I am afraid that they will provide more fuel for the fire than the cypress can tolerate. With that in mind, I am cutting corridors and cutting around individual trees. There are only a few dozen of them, so I have the capacity. I plan to set this part of the fire from the corridor, so that the fire will be “tame” here. I am afraid if it picked up momentum, it would be too hot.

You can see the corridors in the pictures below. The big asters are examples of the growth of the wildflowers since the harvest. They are about seven feet high.

The longleaf are supposed to be able to handle the fire. Still, I worry about them. My longleaf are so wonderful, as you see in the picture below. I don’t want to lose any of them, so I am cutting corridors there too, both as places to set off the fire and to provide calming for the fires that hit them.

A big danger is where two fires come together. They shoot up a hot plume that can singe the trees enough to kill them. The corridors should help mitigate this.

I have been consulting with Adam Smith about the fire. We agreed that we can back the fire into the stream management zones. It will be cool enough and probably go out in the SMZ. If it makes it to the water, it will stop there. In any case, it will not be likely to harm any big trees, but will clean up the brush.

After the fire, we will plant longleaf in the clearings.

I was also cutting on Brodnax. I am looking for longleaf we planted in 2016. I am finding some, but not as many as I would like. In the spirit of adaptive management, I am going to plant acorns I recently gathered and see if I can have some oak regeneration. There are also some big white oaks on the edge, so I expect that they will contribute too. I hope to get an oak-pine mix. I think it will be interesting.

Still a lot of work to do. I was happy to have Chrissy along this weekend, but I will probably have to go down alone a few more times before the fires.

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