Monday, December 31, 2012

Year in Review and Sneak Peek of 2013!

What a year! As 2012 comes to a close, we have much to reflect on! It has been a busy year – both in terms of managing the farm and promoting the education of sustainable land management.
  • Arik spent countless hours pruning, thinning, planting and combating invasives, not to mention manning the lawn mowers and lately, snow plows!
  • We tried some new things on the farm this year – including a food plot, trail cams (photos coming soon!) and a hunting system to help all of us stay informed of who is hunting when and where.
  • We opened our doors wide in efforts to educate others about the farm. We had over 100 students visit the farm, hosted the AFF Board, threw a party for the farm’s oldest resident, and started this little project!
  • We took some time to educate ourselves, too. We hosted a chainsaw safety course in the fall, which Joe and Arik participated in. Arik and I became Land Ethic Leaders, and I also learned more about the Leopold Education Project. Arik participated in the Sinsinawa Tri-State Woodland Conference, while Joe and I both attended the Madison Woodland Conference.

It has been a busy, fun year – but there is not much time to reflect, as 2013 is just around the corner! And we have a lot planned…

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Photo Gallery: Blizzard of December '12

Last week's blizzard dumped 18" of snow on us, leaving no question as to whether this year would be a white Christmas! It was a heavy, wet snow that stuck to whatever surface it landed upon. This type of snow makes for very beautiful scenery, but as you'll see below -- isn't the best for the trees! 

The opportunistic beaver

If you had followed my blog entries this last summer you are aware of the ongoing battles with the resident beaver. I write beaver in the singular form, because my hopes are that only ONE beaver calls the farm home. Anyway, this particular beaver found a way to clog the discharge pipe on one of our ponds. The picture below shows the pipe with the access plate on top of it.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Mystery Boxes - Make a Guess!

These two boxes were delivered to the Farm yesterday. Arik was very excited to see them - their contents will keep him busy, and will also be an exciting new endeavor for the Farm to pursue.

Can you guess what's inside? Leave a comment with your guess! We'll be back in a couple days to tell you all about it...

Friday, December 7, 2012

Chipping Buckthorn

The safest way to load Buckthorn into the chipper!

If you have ever handled Buckthorn you can understand why I load it into the chipper with our mini-excavator. If you have never handled Buckthorn, take note of the second syllable in the invasive's name. The thorns are not to be dismissed. 

In this picture I am chipping some pretty large Buckthorn (~15 feet tall). They were growing on the edge of a woodlot so they grew out as much as up, plus they had multiple stems. After cutting the Buckthorn, I had a few options: let it lay where it fell, make some brush piles or use our chipper to grind up the brush. 

My experience with this shrub-type of Buckthorn is it has to be chipped. Trying to make brush piles out of it once it is this size and shape can be frustrating. After stacking a few shrubs up, the pile tends to fall over, or the shrubs roll off.

I've also learned that Buckthorn can be slow to decay. If I am removing invasives, I like to be able to walk through the area that my work was done in. These large shrubs left to rot, where they stood, would impede foot traffic for sometime. 

A Bucktorn brush pile reduced to chips will be significantly smaller than a brush pile, and the chips can be used on trails. If I don't get around to using the chips, they decompose much faster than if left whole. 

I recognize not everyone has this type of equipment available for their projects. I am interested to hear what you do with Buckthorn once cutting it, so leave a comment. Stay tuned I will also write about how I treat the cut stumps. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Big Oak Wake

Saturday we laid our Big Oak to rest with quite the party! Friends and family gathered to watch Beaver Tree Service take down the tree in a process that moved astonishingly fast. It took nearly 200 years to grow to that size, yet only a matter of hours to come down.