We are not going to Grandmother's house as the song would suggest, but... we are back in our woods! Well, we never really got out of them, since we do have a creamery to build, and we need our forest to supply some of the materials for it. So, we are ‘back in the woods’ for our blog today. We are going to tell you more about our forest and what we are doing to practice sustainable forestry and use our resources where we can for our creamery.
The trees in our forest are ‘out-of-balance’, which is why we are really working hard to practice sustainable forestry. A forest is a 100-year crop. It is multi-generational, so it is very important for us to harvest our trees in a way that allows our children and grandchildren to have a value-added crop. If you remember from our blog post a while back , this area of the forest was poorly managed or pastured by cattle, which is devastating to the timber for production. Now the trees that have grown back have an overabundance of a certain species. It is not good to have a single species in a forest, because it makes the forest out of balance. For us, we have an abundance of basswood since it was bypassed during prior logging operations because of low market value. By default, it has left us with a good usable resource for our cheese aging shelves.
We will cut about 150 trees in one small area of our forest where the basswood is very prevalent, but we are most definitely not clearing out all 600 acres of forest that we own. We are using a method called DBH (diameter breast height) per acre to measure our forest. Through this method, we use a special cruising prism to count all the trees in a basal area (one square acre) up to a significant diameter and multiply it by 10. If that number is over 120, it’s time to harvest some of the trees. We take it down to about the number 90. If you harvest below that number, you will open your forest canopy too much and be subject to blowdown, epicormic sprouting, beech brush, and invasive species because too much solar energy is getting to the forest floor. (We are basically managing the amount of energy that reaches the ground and preventing undesirable understory from growing.) In this practice you use energy to grow desirable timber. In the photos below, you can see that a lot of trees have a blue X on them. Those are the trees that our forester specifically marked to cut. Upon selection we start with the high risk trees. They have forks inthem, or they are crooked or damaged. If there is an ice storm, the branch that is forked in the tree will break out and totally damage the stem of the tree. Rot may occur. So we are trying to cut these trees first and use them before Mother Nature further damages them and renders them useless.
Normally a person would not just pick one species out of their forest to cut, but we did, because we had such an overabundance of basswood.
We are trying to keep you updated with all the aspects of our Creamery, and if you cannot tell, we are very passionate about our forest. We want to share all the details with you, so that when you enjoy our cheese in the near future, you will even know about the shelves it was aged on! Stay tuned for one more post about our forest and our logging. Thanks for reading, and as always, send us any questions or comments. We love to hear from you!!