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Monday, June 11, 2012

Old Growth, New Growth

In the woods on this forty acre parcel live about twenty old growth individuals, including burr oak, shagbark hickory, white oak, and cottonwood. Our consulting forester estimated their age at well over 200 years. By removing other trees that are interfering with the giants' branch structure, each can become a little park, to be visited by a network of old tractor paths that we're gradually restoring.

This is long-settled land. Many of the farms and towns around here were established in the 1830s, and less than five percent of what is now Iowa remains more or less as it was before folk of European descent set down roots. On the coasts of this big nation, it's called flyover country.

A small thunderstorm cell blew over about four o'clock this morning and produced some good flashes and booms. There was rain enough to suppress the dust on the county road but not enough to make puddles in the lane.

The family of land beaver moved from under the barn – a recent party may have scared them off – but are nearby. As we watched from the kitchen yesterday afternoon, an adult came right up the front walk and around the house on some errand.

The thistles, those I missed with the spade, are flowering so I've been out with a machete to decapitate them before they can go to seed. This took me for the first time into the interior of the 11-acre terraced field, where the alfalfa and clover have grown chest high and are making the bees very happy, or at least very busy. I believe even a diligent search would now find very few flowering thistles on the property.

Yesterday morning we drove up to Moscow for a load of manure and soiled bedding from the farm of a horse-raising acquaintance. It was dry and well-composted with no objectionable odor, and now awaits incorporation into the garden soil for the second planting, which we'll do this week. Tilth! Fertility!

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