Our farms consists of 68 acres that includes our home envelope (barns, workshop and house), the field, small orchard and meadow, and the garden. The rest are woods and they are cut through the middle with two creeks that eventually meet up and become a much bigger creek. I feel very passionate about our woods and Bryce has recently given me the very official title of Woodland Manager :). I’m in some part of our Woodland daily as I take Rosie for her afternoon walk (thus you will see her behind in many of the following pictures).
One of the first things that we ever did at the farm was create a trail down to the creek, for a birthday gathering for Grace, appropriately named The Birthday Trail! Since then, Bryce has put in several more trails; The Woolsey Trail, To the Beech Trail and Son of A Beech Spur Trail. We also have Washington’s Last (Pine) Stand that isn’t a trail but rather a lovely gathering area. We have a chipper that we use to create mulch from fallen branches and small trees.
I’ll be honest, the woods are an absolute mess. They are riddled with invasives that literally threaten (in high summer they actually do) to take over. Between the vines, mile-a-minute, multi-flora rose, olive trees and silt grass, natives barely have a chance to get a foot hold. And don’t even get me started on the deer as, of course, they mostly don’t eat the invasives, just the natives! Also, we are losing hundreds of ash trees due to the emerald ash borer. The loss of these trees will mean that we no longer have a sufficient canopy which will encourage more invasives. Ugh! I often have to really work hard not to get totally discouraged. Below are images of the thickets that are created by multi-flora and other invasives, and an example of some of the vines we have to remove- with my hand as scale!
We are slowly but surely trying to clear out areas and rejuvenate them. This means tearing out the invasives, removing dead/diseased trees, mowing the silt grass regularly and cutting the vines. After that work is done, we replant whips. I wish we could plant larger trees but it’s simply not financially feasible as we will be planting 100’s of trees. In our Woodland, we only plant natives which narrows our choices down and makes it easier to choose what to plant. We feel like this will give each plant the best possible chance for survival. Of course, watering each baby plant is a serious business and takes some time! I’m also slowly adding in Snowdrops because I just can’t let go of my vision of the woods filled with Snowdrops!
We put in a large deer fence a few years ago. Therefore, for now we are concentrating on the woodland areas inside the fence. Without the deer grazing, we should see significant improvement. Though it should be mentioned, that we are forever fighting deer that somehow, inexplicably get inside the fence! Therefore we often have to put protection around the young plants.
There is so much beauty in the woods and we really enjoy using them for various activies. Though it must be said that we do not enjoy them as much in the late spring and summer due to the discouraging amount of ticks (we are adding Guineafowl to the mix this year!). We’ve had winter picnics, bonfires and family hikes in our woods and I want to make sure that it’s preserved for years to come. I feel especially grateful to be a steward of these woods, no matter how messy, because in a world where there is less and less open space it’s a true gift to have them.