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Spring Chores: Trees

One of the spring projects on Dan's seasonal to-do list is our trees. His list included:
  • the falling pines in our woods
  • overhanging branches along pasture fencelines
  • letting in sunlight for an upcoming solar project
  • firewood

From time to time, I've shown you photos of the pine trees in our woods. Of our five acres, about half is wooded with mature pines and young hardwoods. In the past couple of years the pines have been giving way to the hardwoods. This is ecological succession and can't be helped, but woe to humans who want to fence it in!

Photo from my Tending Fences blog post.

Some of these pines simply uproot.

This usually happens when we have saturated ground from a lot of rain.

Others simply break off anywhere along the trunk.

Pines grow quickly but most of ours are
tall and spindly from competition for sunlight.

Some of these are alive, but some dead. Dan tries to get the worst ones down before they fall on their own. Either way, it seems to create a lot of waste and is why he invested in his sawmill. As sad as it is to see those trees come down, they have been the source of timber and lumber for our barn and carport renovation.

This large pine tree was on the fenceline between two goat areas.

Although it looked healthy, in fact the heartwood was not sound

Here's the same tree, now ready for the sawmill.

The twigs and branches of all the trees we cut become woodchips.

The other bonus is that once the pines are down the hardwoods begin to grow and flourish!

I count three pine stumps in the foreground of this photo. What
remains are hardwoods which are beginning to fill out and grow.

Thinning limbs that extend out over our pasture is also on Dan's tree project list. This is actually one of our subgoals for pasture improvement. Forage doesn't do well in dense shade, but in our hot climate it appreciates light shade from a high canopy.

We saved some of the limbs for next year's firewood,
and used some to plant mushroom plugs (post here).

April is greening month! Limbs thinned means better light to the pasture.

The solar project is one of our 2019 goals. We want to put our extra fridge and freezer on a small, dedicated solar system. I've observed optimal sunlight for the past several years, but we also knew we would get more energy if we took down one strategically placed maple tree.

The fact that it was leaning helped with the decision!

This was done last February.

I think taking down trees to install solar is something of a catch-22. Shade from trees reduces temperatures by ten to fifteen degrees. Remove the shade and the house is a lot harder to cool!

Lastly, Dan selected a few trees to become next winter's firewood. How does he decide which trees to cut? Usually the most mature hardwoods.

The oak in the center of the photo before cutting.

They should be cut before they become old and weak. The tree above is mature, but also has a hollow spot which was once a branch.

Rainwater collects in it & becomes a mosquito nursery!

The water is also an invitation to wood rot.

Something else we've learned is that they need to be cut before they become too large for the chainsaw. We had a couple of old oaks that measured 48" across at their base. They had to come down because they were dead, but they were difficult to deal with. This one was still manageable.


It will become next winter's firewood. He'll work on cutting up over the next several months, but in the meantime it's a great place for the kids to play.


One thing we are careful to do is to make sure that each tree that comes down has at least one replacement.

One of the replacements for our two old oak trees.
The rotting stump of the old tree is on the left.

This is good stewardship. If this kind of stewardship was practiced universally, then hardwood trees would make a fantastic renewable resource. Unfortunately, this doesn't fit the mass production mindset and has forced us to turn the petroleum based plastics, vinyls, polyethylene, etc as an alternative. The triple whammy is that fossil fuels are needed to make, transport, and recycle them. Okay, I'm not intending to get out my soap box LOL. But I do think that properly stewarding our trees instead of trying to find alternatives would go a long way in helping the health of our planet.

This is a big spring chore tended to! I think Dan would have liked to make a little more progress, but for now, he's happy with what he's gotten done.

Spring Chores: Trees © April 2019 by

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