Sunday, March 31, 2013

The never ending struggle . . .

lest the jungle reclaim it's own.

My neighbor owns a lot of forest. He has a long road -- a mile and half or so -- from his house to the swimming hole, which is an idyllic spot in the woods with a waterfall going over a dam. Spring weather has come at last and the mud has dried so it was time to clear the trees that had fallen across the road in the storms of fall and winter. As you may recall, this included the most powerful northeast storm in recorded history, and as you might well imagine, there were a whole lot of very big trees lying across that road.

Three of us pushed down it from barrier to barrier, wielding chainsaws and using my tractor to push the big trunks off to the side. It took a good four hours and there's still a lot of work to move brush by hand and clean up the edges.

As I have mentioned before, I mow a pretty good sized clearing, right now I'd say it's about 2 1/2 acres. The fact is you can't stand still -- I have to keep pushing back the edges or the forest will come in on me, thorn bushes and beech saplings in the vanguard. No road in the forest will stay passable for more than a year without fairly serious attention. We hold nature to a draw with our petroleum fueled brush cutters, mowers, chain saws, and tractors. Our predecessors here wielded axes and scythes and two-man crosscut saws and used horses for the heavy traction. Of course they had to feed the horses which meant keeping three or four times as much land open. I don't know how they did it.

The Indians, on the other hand, didn't bother. They'd girdle some trees and burn the underbrush to make small clearings for gardens, cultivate them for a year or two, and move on. Maybe not such a bad way to go after all.

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