Exploring the Land

Last Saturday Jon was off and we were blessed with some gorgeous weather in the 70’s. Working in the restaurant business, he does not get many Saturdays off. So, we headed to the land for the day. We ate a big breakfast at a nearby truck stop on the way and packed lunch and snacks for the day.

There are several logging roads and paths cut through the land. Some have been kept clearer and in better shape than others. The first thing Jon wanted to do was to clear out one of the paths that had grown up with a lot of brush and briars so that we could better access that side of the property.

While Jon started on that, Sarah and I went exploring. This is really the first time she had seen it. The last time she was with us when we were out there it was raining and cold and we had not purchased it yet. She just sat in the truck that day while we looked at it more trying to determine if we were going to put in a offer. The first thing she had to see of course was the creek.

So much of the property is bordered by the creek so there are several different ways to access it. We opted for the steep “uncut” way on the far east side of the property so that we could then meander the entire creek all the way to the west side of the property. It is quite steep in places going that way.

Just as expected, the creek was a big hit with her. Some of the creek bed is steep and not too easy to access the creek, while others have some nice entry points. There are several pools where the water is deeper that can make some nice spots to play in when it warms up more.
As we meandered along the creek, I was trying to take note of the various types of plant life and trees around. There is so much land here. We honestly do not know what all we have yet. I found several of these nut hulls along the creek as we walked. I kept one to research later when we got home. The best we can tell, it is the hull of a hickory nut. Would anyone agree or suggest otherwise? We are open to advice. There must be several hickory trees as I found them at various places as we walked the creek.
The meandering the creek took a while as she wanted to stop and explore each “cool” spot along the way. She was enjoying herself. She asked why I wasn’t walking down to the creek each time. I explained that I was exploring the woods around the creek to learn what all treasures we had.
Rhododendron Along Creek

There are a lot of these trees small, medium, and large along the creek. Most of the trees this time of the year do not have their leaves, but these did. It made me take notice of them more.

I took several pictures for research later of the tree with its leaves, the leaves up close, and of the bark. Our oldest took horticulture and forestry in high school. He later told us that these were beech trees. He said that Beech will keep their leaves all winter like that as well.

Beech Leaves?
Beech Tree Bark?

From looking online later I would agree with him about the beech trees. Would you? After, playing and exploring all along the creek we finally winded ourselves all the way over to the other side of the land and headed back to where Jon had been working. We had been shaded down by the creek and had not realized just how sunny and warm it had gotten. Jon was clearly getting some sun clearing the path. He also looked like he had been in a cat fight.

We took a break to eat our lunch and then went to buy a few fruit trees from the Beautiful Earth Garden Shop just down the road. We bought a plum tree and 3 apple trees. When we arrived back at the land I  helped Jon continue clearing the path. He had about done all he could with brush and briars and we were now to the point of a mostly dead end path into a dense pine thicket.

The land had been cut for lumber about 10 or so years ago, and these pines have grown back on their own thick! You can barely walk through them. The pines are much bigger than the other trees as they grow so much quicker.  He started cutting a path through the pines with the chainsaw and I was dragging the trees out. Whew! They were heavy. We found several ticks on us while in the pines. My brother says the ticks love the pine thickets because they put off a lot more heat than other trees and the ticks will nest in there. Yeehaw! We fought the pines for sometime and decided that was enough of them for one day. Many of the pines just need to be cleared out, but it cannot all be done in one day.

So, after taking a little break we decided to head to another part of the property where there were few pines. This area of the woods had also been cut for lumber and is growing back on its own with several different types of harder woods rather than pine. They are all mostly 1 to 3 inches in width and growing very dense like the pines. These trees need to be thinned out a lot so that they will have room to mature. This process will take some time, but you got to start somewhere. So, Jon started clearing out some of them as I drug them out of the woods into a pile.

There are some white oaks. We can easily recognize them because they still have much of their dead leaves. We left all of those. We also had more beech trees in this area.  But there are a lot of these trees as well. They grow so tall, skinny, and super straight. George says these are young poplar trees.  Hmmm not the greatest wood, but better than pines I guess. You can see where we have cleared out some of the area around these.

Young Poplar?
Then there are lots of these. They look similar with the blotchy bark, but not quite the same.

They also have these bushy small growth in them. It really isn’t leaves and it really isn’t berries. I don’t really know what to call them. They look similar to pods. Online it says the poplar has “cotton-like” seeds so, maybe these are poplars too. Anyone?

Poplar “Cotton” Pods?
There is so much to do, and to be quite honest we may be a little overwhelmed as where to start…lol. My sister and her husband came by and we welcomed the excuse for a break and to show them around. As I was walking the “short” way to the creek to show it off to our oldest who had not seen it yet either, I almost stepped on a snake! I jumped back with a little scream. He walked up for a closer look and said it was a water moccasin. Wow, I just thought it was too early for snakes, but I guess the warm day brought it out. I bet that creek is full of them especially in those nice “swimming holes”.
We have so much work to do and so much to discover and learn. But isn’t that part of the fun?

The Land Series:
Closed on the Land
Exploring the Land
Bulldozing a Patch of the Land
Clearing Land the Hard Way
Clearing the Land – Finally a “Little” Progress