Friday, August 30, 2013

When things don't go as planned...

Arik is taking advantage of the dry August days by using the Bobcat to mow some typically swampy areas. I wanted to capture this for the blog, so headed down Husker Road hoping to catch him action. And I did get a couple action shots:

And then, this:

Thursday, August 22, 2013

What grows up, must come down

Arik and I

Through most of this summer I have been working on timber stand improvements on the farm. I have been making my way through the woods working from the ground up. I started by using the brush mower to clear the knee high shrubs and trees. Then, I transitioned into using the brush saw to remove thumb size diameter trees and shrubs. The hand saw (my favorite) came next to cut down small trees (6” in diameter or less). I have been driving the tool cat andusing the bobcat with the grapple. But, up until last week, something had been missing from summer experience.  You guessed it—the chain saw!

While working the Walbridge Woods, I got my first hands on experience with the chain saw. Arik briefly went over the functions and safety of the chainsaw while we were in the woods, and demonstrated how to do a wedge and bore cut on an Elm before letting me tackle my first tree.
Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I created this image to give a better understanding of what a wedge and bore cut looks like.

Arik started by using the chain saw to score the bark where I would be making my cuts. We discussed what would happen with each cut, about the tension and compression of the cells and how the cuts would effect them.
Arik scoring the tree

Monday, August 19, 2013

Save the Cup Plants!

The last week has been warm and dry, prompting us to dive head-first into a plant advocacy campaign:

The plugs got a good drink on planting day and a couple days after when 0.4" rain fell. However, the sun has been relentless lately. We have a thirsty field of cup plants crying for H2O. 

Arik, the Tree Farm's Bruce Wayne, heard their plea and effortlessly came to the rescue with this rigged up watering system: 

Friday, August 16, 2013

ALF intern work day at the Farm

On Wednesday the Tree Farm hosted an intern work day for my fellow interns at the Aldo Leopold Foundation (ALF). Arik lent us his time and knowledge on some bigger equipment that we do not have at ALF. I have been fortunate to be able to use most of the equipment on a regular basis while working here this summer and I was thrilled to be able to share the experience with my fellow interns: Leann, Cameron, and Emily.

The three of us girls started the morning by familiarizing ourselves with the Stihl brush saw. We worked as a team to cut down Buckthorn and clear the area. One of us used the saw while the others removed the small trees and the other treated the stump with Garlon. We put the Buckthorn in piles in order to practice using the grapple attachment on the 220 Bobcat.

Emily handling the brush saw in the thicket of Buckthorn

Leann cutting out Buckthorn using the brush saw

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Who is Susan? And how did she get a blackeye?

I cannot say with certainty that this is the first of our black-eyed Susan to bloom, but it is one of the first. On Sunday we received almost a half-inch of much needed rain which must have provided the catalyst for the plants flower. On my Monday morning commute, this lovely sight greeted me. 

The overall status of the black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) field is promising. The first three weeks after the seeding, Arington Tree Farm like much of Wisconsin, had an abundance of rain.

I have continued to mow a perimeter around the planting to prevent Canada thistle from going to seed and infiltrating the field. However, we do have two weeds in the field: common lambsquarter and pigweed. Agrecol will soon be spraying Prowl, a water-based herbicide, to control these weeds.

Stay tuned, I will post more photos of the field once more black-eyed Susan bloom and keep you updated on the cup plants.

Monday, August 12, 2013

20,000+ plugs later...

Last week we finished our prairie project by putting in roughly 20,000 cup plants!

Agrecol brought out a tractor, the planter, and a truck-full of plugs.

These plugs started as seeds at an Agrecol green house.
It is a good thing we had a whole crew lined up to help - all of those hands were needed! Six people sat on the planter and fed plugs. Another 6-10 were needed to walk behind the planter to ensure it was calibrated correctly, make sure the plugs were going in okay, and quickly break up any clogs in the planter.

Getting the planter loaded with cup plant.

Part of the work crew in front of the fully loaded planter.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Makin' some lumber

On Monday, Rachel and I took a road trip to the sleepy little town of Johnson Creek, Wisconsin. The purpose of our trip was to use a bandsaw mill to saw two white oak logs and to view a lumber drying kiln. 

The Alaskan chainsaw mill that we have put to work on Arington Tree Farm has given us a stack of live edge, slab lumber. Unfortunately, before we can build anything with it, we will have to get some moisture out of the wood. The passive approach would be allowing the lumber to air dry. However, with the thick slabs that we milled, it would take years to dry to a workable level - approximately 6-8% moisture content for interior applications. 

Friday, August 2, 2013

National Tree Farmer of the Year!

Last weekend we traveled up to Minneapolis to attend the National Tree Farm Convention. During the closing banquet we heard the announcement we've been waiting for -- Joe was named National Tree Farmer of the Year!

Joe and family receive the award.