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*Forest 2017*


By Lori


Every year for the last six I’ve been sure that I’ve finally got a part of the woods cleared of deadfall and every spring there are dead trees tumbled and crossed like pick up sticks!
The last three days have been spent up the hill cutting out deadlocked trees and cutting up deadfalls. Dead..dead..dead.

Strange weather and waves of infestors have had a toll and I see so much more dead wood than before. Our forest is changing. The forest floor is usually moist with lots of leaf mould carpeting the ground and the odd fern or two…but now the clearings are open to the sun and it’s drying out the thin hillside soil. There are rivulets of erosion on the hillside from the deluges we’ve had this season..and some of the tall, sturdy hemlocks have keeled over from loss of soil around their roots. The soil tends to be sandy loam and is easily carried away by water. Watching the changes coming so quickly upon the hillside is not new..I know that all forests evolve and change, BUT, the speed of the change is the cause of my concern.
This is my first stewardship of a forest. It’s daunting. I’ve tried to clear away the worst of the mess to allow nature to come back with raspberry and blackberry canes and the odd birch and poplar to shade the next generation of oak and maple. I’m also a bit “aged” to be starting what is usually a lifelong occupation. Forests are not “instant”…. so I know I won’t see my young beech and maples in their prime…but I know they’ll be there because I’m doing what I’m doing now.

After three dry summers in a row the forest floor was turning to dusty leaves… with a bit of black sand which is, in most spots on the hillside, only inches thick. The trees root in the rock crevasses and the loamy acidic soil accumulates made up of leaves, twigs and needles and eroded rock sand. Carpet moss, lichens, moulds, fungi and ferns coat dead logs, and moist rock surfaces… as well as dead twigs on some of the hardwoods. It’s necessary to preserve these “digesters”. In the above pics you can see the swathe that was cut by HydroOne, to protect their lines! This is no blessing as they just cut and left twigs, limbs and stumps to decay..and the trees which were left have to adjust to the extra sunlight and dryness.
So it’s off to work I go… heigh-ho!

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Sad to see "dead" areas. Here we complain about the rain but it really helps to keep our forests lush and green.

I live next to a Nature Reserve and trees that are cut, or that fall are left so that they provide an habitat for creatures great and small. Our hedge was trimmed in May and the logs are still on the heath. In fact the Wardens are quite strict about tree-felling and the removal of timber.

Lots of conifers being planted and these are not the attractive, wonderful forests like the New Forest. Here we have the "old" selection with oak, and ash, and beech, to mention a few, and the occasional "exotic" tree like the Swamp Cypress.

Big companies do seem to ride rough-shod over fields and forests but I think for the latter here they do have to conform a bit more.

Forestry is hard work! I admire your tenacity.

(Is that a CAT? It's a beauty.)

9 Aug, 2017


Hi Eirlys! That's my tip of the hat to my Norwegian FOREST cat, Rufus... He's an excellent supervisor and keeps me company.
Can those "Warden"s tell people what they can take from their own property? or is this public land? It's a good practice to leave the tops (the leafy canopy foliage) in piles over winter. The song birds love it.. food and shelter..and the mice, deer and raccoons alternately nest, chomp and chew on it! After one turn of the seasons the small twigs are dry and a good stomping brings the pile down to chips which are like a natural mulch and the larger twigs can be used as kindling in the wood stove. I have (at last count) six such piles. It seems the sparrows and the thrushes like it the most.
There is a type of cypress here in eastern Ontario that has naturalized in a long line across the southern tier of the province. It's called Atlantic White Cedar or Leyland cypress and it is very prickly and spreads madly! I sure hope it's not that stuff gets established and you'll never get rid of it! Nice enough contained in a garden..but it has taken over acres of what once was farmland along the highway 401 corridor between Kingston and Toronto. I have one in my garden and have taken care to keep it reined in with's usually triangular in form but I've pruned mine into a spherical form.

9 Aug, 2017


The work must be interesting. I hope the changes are not becoming too drastic.

11 Aug, 2017


I admit, Hywel, I'm no spring chicken and developing an obsession at my point in life is kinda out-there! .. and yes it's quite interesting but exhausting. This season is seeing a change in forests all across Canada.. we've had two waves of budworm and leafworm infestations, two new fungus diseases and two straight summers of reduced rainfall. the long-term results of just these three problems are seen over the next five years, probably. What I'm dealing with now started maybe a decade ago with some storm or other that took down trees with stumps that are about 2-3 ft across at the base.. huge old trees that should have been watched and trimmed came down in a twisted mess.. and the damage reverberates through the forest over the years.
I hope you don't mind my expounding at length... I'm not seeing it for the first time but it's the first time that the forest in question has belonged to me. Hot and humid today so I won't be working the whole day.

11 Aug, 2017


Looks like the Asian Longhorned Beetle has set up residence in your area. It has in mine (mid Atlantic USA) and it is terrible.

12 Aug, 2017

The list of threats is quite long, Loosestrife2.
This spring brought a recurring infestation of Tent Caterpillars... I remember years, back in my youth, (1960's) when they defoliated whole swathes of forest and caused slipping and skidding hazards when they crossed highways en masse. This spring was not that bad but their cycle repeats... the trees are full of the rolled up leaves of the pupae.
We have the Emerald Ash Borer and the Maple borer beetle and a list of diseases as well.
For the last two seasons our forests have been stressed by drought which encourages insect damage...then, if we get rainforest conditions for another season or two then we shall have the diseases they spread resurging.
The worst damage was done before we were even aware of the the ecosystem is wobbly with the stress of it.
One hopeful note... we have seen increased numbers of woodpeckers! Go boys!

12 Aug, 2017


Hi Lori, I love your forest blogs and it's interesting to read of your experiences, my woodland is tiny compared to yours about two acres, on the flat and quite wet, a complete contrast to yours

12 Aug, 2017


I know my "garden" seems a bit out of scale...but the forest is a special part. My Dad had a woodlot years ago and I learned some things from him.. 100 acres of trees, streams, swamp and beavers!
We've had power outages recently because trees have fallen across power lines. The forests are not healthy.
My next blog is going to be about the large hardwoods on the hill.. There is also a hemlock stump from someone's efforts before my time, that is about 3 ft. across! I've always loved the hemlocks as they seemed tall, dark and indestructible but the larger they get the harder it is for them to stand on the rocky hillside with little soil for an anchor.
once I have the wood out I'm going to plant digitalis and hollyhocks and spread some of the natural groundcovers around.

18 Aug, 2017
putting this here for my own reference.
Picea omorika
picea abies Sitka
cross ref: sawflies

19 Aug, 2017


Very interesting Lori,

20 Aug, 2017


Really interesting read, and great photos too, and you are doing a great job :)

22 Aug, 2017


I've been reading about Norwegian Forest Cats, known as Skogkkats in Norway. Said to grow to a large size and are gentle and friendly to family members. Right?

Hemlock: I always thought this was a small shrub. Shows my ignorance. Accepted it killed Socrates but never thought to check up on the plant/tree itself.

25 Aug, 2017


Will have to call my place "Skogkkat Hjem". Thank you, Eirlys. Rufus is a gentle giant... he's hard for me to pick up as he's about 20+ lbs. He likes the outdoors but never goes too far from the house and never leaves the property. It was my hub who found out he was an NFC. He loves to climb trees and enjoys high places where he skulks and lurks...but never with malevolence. He is incredibly curious and patient.. He waits at the squirrel run like a statue for hours on end! (I'm thankful he's good in the trees and stays close to home as we have lots of wildlife and some folk let their dogs run free.) Will post a pic of him in the walnut tree when he was still very young.
The hemlock pruche in French... is Tsuga canadensis. It has tough, dense grained wood..when dry it's like iron. Usually exceptionally rot resistant...but recently there is a new mould which attaches itself to the underside of new growth and rots the tree from the top down. I have to go out with a marker and mark the trees that I need to remove and maybe take a census.

26 Aug, 2017


Well, Rufus sounds a great companion. He obviously knows a good home when he finds one.

Not another enemy for a tree to contend with! I had a quick read of tree enemies and the description included a fungus rot that grew inside a tree
"until they are old enough to form a "conk" or "shelf" fungus on the bark of the tree. The conk makes tiny spores which are carried by the wind to infect other trees." Is this the one that attacks the hemlock?

So interesting to read about your forest. An old neighbour of mine was one of the first women in the UK to "qualify" as a forester. When she died her husband had a large swathe of trees planted in her memory.

28 Aug, 2017


It's bothersome when looking for information that we constantly run up against chemical companies..(i.e. those selling fungicide). I was in a state last autumn when I saw a notice published in the local newspaper about a certain herbicide that was being sprayed on forest near us to deter undergrowth of undesirable species! Our own gov't..for heaven's sake!
I have seen the mushroom like bulbs growing on the trunks of dead trees which are still standing...I must try to take some pics... they're very strange and I think that's what you're referring to, right? The Frilly pretty bracket fungi usually grow on trees that are horizontal and dead!

28 Aug, 2017


Herbicide and pesticide companies have a lot to answer for. I have signed so many petitions banning some pesticides that are known to kill bees and yet our Government seem reluctant to accept this fact. We have seen far fewer honey bees in the garden the last few years.

29 Aug, 2017


They seem to find ways around any effort to curtail or cancel the use of their products... I remember a company name WeedMan, whose main product was glyphosate, and 2,4, D, for residential use on lawns to "control" the heinous dandelion! The banning of their use on city parks and residential property within the town limits put them behind for a while until they started using "natural" products... We weren't fooled by that tach but it didn't stop them trying. Since moving to the country we don't see their green and yellow trucks at all. I really wish that North American Sub-urbanites would give up their obsessions with green lawns and try growing more flowers and veggies. I imagine the soil which was sprayed twice a season for 20-odd years with defoliant wouldn't be the best soil for veggies. I have yet to see any explanation of the half-life of defoliants either. Years ago I read that it was in the thousands of years! That doesn't seem right, but, it's not just the added poisons in our soil but the fact that with air/water pollution soils can become a terrible soup of pollutants. I hope I don't sound like Henny-Penny. LoL... It doesn't pay to think too much does it?

31 Aug, 2017


Makes me wonder if these "people" have children/grandchildren.

(During WW2 lawns were turned into veggie patches but the chemicals weren't around then!)

1 Sep, 2017


What bothers me a lot is that, particularly in the U.S., companies have been granted "entity" status. One entity, of a few thousand officers, workers, and shareholders can amass a lot of money to use to influence lawmakers and control voting blocs... it's like Orwellian sci-fi, but it's real. I think it was either Orwell or Huxley who wrote that "some are more equal than others." That kind of explains the tyranny of the wealthy and powerful who tell the voters how and what to think. (although, to be fair, it was supposed to explain a different kind of tyranny.. it works for despots of any stripe.) I just wish that those who own and run companies that make billions from petrochemical poisons would finally see that their money won't buy them fresh, safe water or clean air or clean food. That they face the same fate as the rest of us if we don't start respecting nature. (stepping down from soap box now.. )
We are in the second night of near zero temps forecast for this week... It's a familiar pattern from other years. We have a frost or two in early Sept. and then the rest of Sept. and October are warm and dry... We need it to remain damp to kill the fires still burning in British Columbia. My aunt who lives in central BC says that it's become warm and dry again. All that smoke and ash in the air isn't good for anything.

1 Sep, 2017


Same can be said for drug companies, sadly.

Wet August here in the Uk with the occasional sunny day. September chillier : Autumn is around the corner.

4 Sep, 2017


Thanks for your comment Pam... I'm sorry I missed your comment the first time around. I sometimes wonder at myself...taking this on at this point in my life..but as long as I can still walk and get about I'm going to keep on.

4 Sep, 2017


I think you had a better spring than we had Eirlys. When does your autumn set in? October? November? Sure hope ours holds off for awhile. when we lived in the north our kids had to wear Hallowe'en costumes that could fit over a snow suit!

4 Sep, 2017

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