Search This Blog

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Spring Cleaning the forest - 2015

Taking a break from natural catastrophes for a moment.

I recently finished a two-week "vacation".  I work the DuPont shift schedule, which runs you in circles for three weeks before giving you 7 days off.  If you take the last four 12-hour day shifts off, you end up getting two weeks.

I put "vacation" in quotes, because I didn't go anywhere, and worked quite a bit harder than if I had remained at work.  I had to take the vacation though, because I was up against the maximum limit.  Also the property needed some work.  Quite a bit, in fact.

This year we saw very little snow, and even though we got some spring rain, we still have only 70% of the normal precipitation to date.  The forest is going to dry out sooner than normal, and then we have months of heat and thunderstorms to look forward to.  I figure that by late summer the dried out living trees will be as likely to ignite as gasoline.  I expect it to be a fiery summer.

It is recommended that you have 100ft of clearance between your house and the nearest trees.  I don't have that yet.  However after this "vacation", I am much closer to that goal.

We have about 5 acres of forest land that was logged in the 1930s, and has a nice variety of trees regrowing on it.  The previous owner had trees along the property line cleared to install a fence, as well as clearing for structures and driveway.  He left those dead tree trunks where they fell.

The downed trees and the undergrowth will be ready to ignite as well as the living forest.  So this "vacation" was about clearing the downed trees, mowing the underbrush, and thinning or removing live trees that are close to structures.

Every morning I got out of bed at about 5 AM.  By 5:30 I would have a pile of limbs and slash on fire, and be gathering more.  I would continue cutting/limbing/gathering/burning until about 4:00 PM, at which point I would be filthy and exhausted, and allow the fire to die down to coals.  Then I would gather another pile of limbs and slash for the following morning.  Shower and crawl into bed exhausted and sore.

And so it went, day after day.  I got breaks only thanks to church and some mandatory training that brought me back into work on a couple of days.

Pile of tree limbs ready to burn early in the morning

Pile half-burnt.  I set a few salvageable logs aside for neighbors.

A pile of downed tree trunks (slash), surrounded by brush.

Same place after cleanup.  The dead trees lying in the background are on a neighbor's property.

A tree left for landscaping that is too close to the house.  Also it's limbed up so high that it's ugly.

Tree is gone.  Logs saved, limbs burned.

Two insect-infested trees that are much too close to the house.

Those trees are gone.  It's sad, because the birds loved them, and we loved watching the birds.  But we are now fire safe and have a clearer view from the deck and breakfast area.

East of the shop before clearing.  This is the most likely direction a fire will come from, based on the normal wind patterns.

After clearing and burning, I have a 75 ft gap, right up to the property line.  I saved a couple of tamarack and cedars, but limbed them up pretty high, and cut all the undergrowth down with the mower.  Note that you can now see the cross-fencing posts.

No comments: