Friday, January 7, 2011


I felled two big oaks today. Both were about 30 inches in diameter, bigger than my saw bar, which you aren't really supposed to do but just between us . . . They went down right where I told them to, and mighty impressively too with considerable collateral damage. I didn't really want to do it, but I need to get the woods a little farther back from my house and they were problem number 1.

They were both just behind an old stone wall that runs along the edge of the area we cleared for the house. I had not noticed until today that the remnants of a barbed wire fence were nailed to one of them. I have already figured out that somebody used this land for pasture up until maybe 60 years ago, and that confirms it. You can tell the forest beyond the stone wall is older growth. I doubt it's original growth -- they say there's none really left in Connecticut -- but I don't know how you would tell. It's deep, dark oak forest with hemlock groves, dominated by monstrous trees, with mossy rocks and carcasses of a yet earlier generation of trees underfoot. I can often hear what sound like large creatures moving about in it that I cannot see.

By the way the woods you see in the banner are the younger growth. I'll take a picture of the old growth tomorrow maybe (there will be snow on the ground) so you can see the difference.


  1. Are you having the oak milled, or just cutting and stacking for firewood?

    Chances are that you don't have old growth. I know for certain that the only old growth left in Massachusetts is on hills so steep that loggers couldn't safely access the trees. We're talking really inaccessible places.

    There's a wonderful book you might want to get called "Reading the Forested Landscape" by Tom Wessels:

    Enjoy the fresh snow! I'm looking forward to the photo of the older growth.

  2. The trees are definitely worthy saw logs, but I don't think anybody would come in here for just two of them, and my equipment won't get them, so they'll just end up as firewood. I'll check out those resources.

    Yes, I'm sure this is not primeval growth. But it's definitely more mature than most of what you see. And the barbed wire is a confirming clue to what has happened here in the past 100 years or so.

  3. I'm looking forward to seeing the photos of the older forest. It'll be interesting to see the difference.

    We just bought a wood stove, having it delivered and installed on Thursday. Looking forward to heating the house with wood. We saved one of the oaks we had cut down last May, and are so glad to be stacking it up for firewood for next winter.

  4. Falling a 30 inch diameter oak isn't trivial work. I have a new perspective...

  5. For sure. I was a little nervous about it to tell you the truth, but they both came down beautifully.

  6. I had never heard the term "old growth forest" until 8 or 9 years ago when one was "discovered" in my hometown in South Jersey, sandwiched between the high school, 2 high rise apartment buildings, a water tower and a giant shopping center -- See Some of the trees were up to 13 feet in diameter and experts have claimed that it is one of the last/best examples of old growth forest on the whole east coast. When I was in high school, it was the place to go and "hang out," and nobody even knew they were carving their initials in trees that were around when Native Americans had the only lacrosse team in town!

  7. Hey Steph, glad you're reading. I definitely don't have any 13 foot diameter trees -- but I'm guessing you meant circumference? Our east coast trees aren't like the sequoias. Anyway, that's really interesting, that such an entity could somehow survive. I will definitely check out the link.

  8. Doh!! - you guessed right. A 16-foot circumference tulip tree there has a diam. of 61 inches. A couple of photos here: Glad to see how you're keeping things wild.