Monday, September 14, 2009

Rains and wood

I am really glad I made it out. Previously, I had my wood stack float 10 feet closer to the pond during a big rain event. It has rained 2.5 inches in the last few days, and I am glad I picked up everything. A large portion of the wood was the dead cedar I milled. I added a picture of some to the left. It is some beautiful wood. I also picked up some 6/4 cedar elm lumber and the osage stump I milled. I should be set on porject wood for a while, and need to rig up a router jig to plane the osage lumber becuase fo the size and crazy grain. You should check back in the future to see the final results. The cedar elm has checks in the pith, but I expected that from the small, twisted trees I cut. I believe next on the agenda for the woodlot is to set up the mills wood deck and start collecting up another group of logs starting with rot and bug resistant cedar. If I can get the deck set up, then all of the logs can be kept off the ground and in relatively good condition. It will allow me to log for a while and mill them all at once. Stacking the lumber was a pain when I was doing a log here and there where I cut the movement prone cedar elm well after the eastern red cedar. The cedar stacked on the cedar elm would have weighted it down some, but it is a pain to break up a wood stack every time you mill. I hope to mill a decent stack all at once in the future. I still have quite a few dead cedars to go, some more cedar elm culls, and may cut some stagnant post oaks to release some saplings near the sawmill. The ERC is going to be milled into 8/4 lumber for table legs and a certain style of cabinet I want to make. The cedar elm will become more 6/4 that I resaw after it moves during drying into 1/2" stock. The oak will probably just become yard timbers for a raised bed garden at home, and that means I don't need to dry it. Hope to get out soon, but it may be a while with the kiddo taking up my time!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Woo Wee! Made it out!

I made it out to the property for a little while at least. I did not accomlish much on the forestry end of things other than some pics for a buddy who's business is Texas Timbers. He wants some cedar elm badly to turn into flooring. The photo shows a cedar elm twig with leaves using my hand for size reference. I remember when I first spoke to him on the phone when he was looking for new woodlots to source wood from. He had never heard of cedar elm and wanted nothing to do with it. Now that he has seen what I have done, he has done a 180 on the topic. I am keeping mine for myself, and he has his own sources. I was able to do a little mowing, caught some fish for dinner and through back a 4lbs largemouth, and made sure everything was alright. I made it home with all of the wood I had cut and it appears to be nice and stright with little problems. One cedar elm board has some bug activity, but I think it will pass like my earlier experiments did. Next on the agenda is make some items with all of this wood for the business. Hopefully I will get enough stock built up to begin doing the local Third Monday Trade Days!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Stuck at home, so testing cedar elm

Well, I am stuck at home with the new baby! I guess if there is any reason to stay away from the woods, it is our new little girl. Another good thing to come from staying home is I get to use some of the wood harvested and milled from the property. Here is a pic of a box out of cedar elm I milled from a cull tree that was crooked and skinny. Nobody could tell me anything about the wood except that it must be similar to other elms. Duh, but how close? Well, this is one tough, pretty wood. The interlocking grain makes it stringy, and it is very tough. Sharp tools are a must with this wood to prevent burning. It has a very light sapwood and a medium brown heart wood, and there is a very dramatic break between the two. The sap tears out much more than the heart, and quartersawn rays are prone. It does show a very nice rayfleck in the quartersawn grain. The interlocking grain in the sapwood also shows a very interesting zigzag pattern that can make the planesawn faces nice. The hardness made it dificult for me to remove swirl marks from some coarse grit sanding. I think I have found a new favorite wood as long as I can get past the burning issue. I hope to be out in the woods working soon, but until then I have some fruits of my labors to play with.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

BMP's and a trail through the woods

BMP's, or best management practices, are a landowner's friend. They keep a property looking good, prevent future damage, and help keep the neighbors happy. Texas does not require following their BMP guidlines. It is voluntary, and you must make sure they are followed on your property when you have it logged. Here is a link to the Texs BMP's: .
A trail through the woods is always important if you plan on enjoying them close up. The BMP guidelines can be helpful in planning the trail route and it's construction. If you plan it right, you can even convert logging roads into trails for future use. I have an old logging road running around our property in the shape of a C connecting the two ends of the dam. BMP's were not followed when making this road. A few places need runoff control. The stream crossings are also not in very good shape, but are only an aesthetic and vehicle access issue. I am going to start with the runoff problem since it is the cheapest problem. Wheelchair access for my wife creates an extra dimension to the trail issue. We will be making the trail as smooth as possible with water bars created with trash trees to direct runoff to prevent erosion of the smooth path. Erosion control is also important when you consider all of our runoff goes into the pond. Runoff affects water clarity, condition, and content. It is much easier to control runoff on your property athn to treat a pond for turbidity and other water problems. A properly designed trail should be able to accomodate us and occassional vehicle traffic while limiting harmful impact to the woodlot and wildlife.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Taking a forest walk

We went on vacation in Arkansas and went on some nice drives along the Buffalo National River. One spot that was accessible for my wife to get out was near the Henry R. Koen Experimental Forest. We had a picnic and enjoyed the view of the river and forest. Access to the Koen Interpretive Trail in the experimental forest can be found along the Erbie Loop drive on the following website: . It is a short and easy trail with a lot of labeled trees. If you ever wondered how they experiment on a forest, here is your chance. It is also worth a drive for the views and the old farmsteads along the way. A beautiful area with some great views of rugged hills covered with forest and, of course, the Buffalo river.
Petit Jean State Park has another wheelchair accessible trail that gave me great ideas for our property. It is a boardwalk to an overlook of Cedar Falls. It was easy to walk on and for her to roll on. I believe it would be a great way to make some of the seasonally flooded areas accessible to everyone. A short raised boardwalk over the water and around some of the pond would be great for seeing some of the wildlife. A boardwalk is a lot of work and needs a large amount of wood, but it may be the best option for the property for making it accessible.

Friday, June 12, 2009

A quick June update

Well, it has been busy around the house and tough to get out to the property. I planned on releasing the willow oaks and cutting up the rest of the cedar on the sawmill, but mother nature threw a wrench in that idea. The little garden tractor's engine filed up with water from the big rain event we had a few weeks back. I am not sure if the water came up that high or it blew in somehow. However it got in, it took awhile to change the oil/water at the back of the property where it almost seized up. Now it burns a little oil and I am sure its' days are numbered. I started looking at what to use as a woodland tractor. There are lots of pros and cons for skid steers and compact utility tractors. Once I have tallied up all of the responses, I will post all of them here to make a decision. I may not have the money for the best solution, but I will have it stored on here for the future. I also have very few of the saplings surviving in the high water. Once it goes down in the fall, I will make a head count of the survivors.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Rain, rain, go away ...

Rain is the bane of my attempts to work on the woodlot right now with 13.2" so far this month and we were double the average last month. May is usually the last chance to work outside before it gets hot in Texas. I managed to go out and check on conditions. The pond is way up and flooding where the dead oaks are located. We finally have definitive proof of why that is happening. Full pool only occurs in the spring and saturates the soil enough to kill the post and willow oaks. I will need to plan for planting more cypress or another water loving tree there next year as these trees desintegrate and rot. A high water level is killing my newly planted cypress and mayhaw seedlings. They can stand flooding as long as their tops are above the surface. Mortality will be higher, but I expected some. They don't last long when they are a foot under the surface. A lone, sick hickory was the only casualty from the severe thunderstorms. Hopefully, the place will dry out some soon so that I can saw up the rest of the dead eastern red cedar and start on my forestry projects of releasing some sapling areas and culling some damaged trees for firewood and saw up some wood for a dock.

Friday, May 1, 2009

What is a woodlot?

Many farmers in the northeast and midwest know the answer to this question. Landowners in the west will quickly understand that their land is could be considered a woodlot. I have not heard anybody in the South consider their property a woodlot, not even the patch of woods left uncleared at the back of a pasture. A woodlot is a wooded area used by the owner to supply various forest products for sale or use. The various uses range from simple firewood and wildlife uses, to intensive timber management including clearcutting and replanting. I consider most of our property our Texas woodlot because it fits into these ideals, even if Texans seldom use the term woodlot. Texas forestry revolves around plantations and tree farming. I have taken on the mantle of woodlot because of my intended uses and strategies. I plan on using the woodlot for firewood, wildlife, refreation, and personal timber production. Generally, a plantation is intended for timber production only with a possible chance at wildlife in the form of a deer lease for extra income. I do not understand whythe Texas Forest Service is behind the curve on woodlots. Parcelization and the large number of private landowners leaves a lot of unmanaged timber in Texas. Forestry can be performed on small properties in Texas, and I aim to prove the Texas Forest Service wrong.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Cypress - an alternative crop tree

Cypress brings images of swamps and huge, moss draped trees. A lot of people do not know that it is a fast growing conifer that works well when planted for a future crop tree. The popular image of the swamp full of bald cypress is because of the tree's traits. It can withstand standing water for long periods of time and resists windthrow, important in soft ground. Cypress is often outcompeted on good sites by hardwoods. It is a component of oak-gum-cypress forests, and is usually only a pure stand where conditions prevent competition from other trees. A cypress planted in good soil will grow quickly, have good form, and self prunes well with proper spacing. The ability for it to grow in poor, water logged soils adds to its crop tree potential. I planted an area the pond floods seasonally with cypress earlier this year. We could not get any information from the local forester in time, so we went ahead and planted 200 with 8'x8' spacing. The idea was to replace some dead oaks with a water tolerant species while adding diversity and a tree useful for timber. The nice look of cypress on a pond helped too. Seedling mortality may jump since the pond has flooded most of them, and we may still have a nutria that likes to eat them. Anybody looking for decent timber production in a flood prone area should consider planting cypress. Here are some sites where I researched my decision:

Monday, April 27, 2009

Mayhaws for problem areas and tasty jelly

The mayhaw is a little known rural South secret. Jelly made from the fruit of this small tree is considered by many to be the best they have ever tasted. Three different species cover a range from east Texas across the gulf and up into the Carolinas and southern Arkansas. An excellent property of this little tree is a tolerance to flooding. How many crops, orchards, or timber producing trees can be grown on flood prone land? The choices are slim, especially if you want trees. I chose to try out 25 saplings near my pond where we did not want to plant cypress. Spring rains flood this area for 6 months out of the year. We chose native mayhaws because we are at the northern range for mayhaws. Hybrid cultivars with larger fruit and harvests are available, but may only be suitable for the deep South in zone 9. I say 'may' because the fruit is such a new commercial crop that long term tests are not complete and new varieties are coming out. Another nice aspect of this tree is that it is adaptable to many environments. It makes the best crop when planted in an orchard on well drained, fertile soil but can also grow in the understory of bottomland forest where it is found in the wild. Ours will be open grown, but with a flood prone, clay soil. I expect larger harvests than in the wild, but similar growth because of the soils. Mayhaws could be a great choice for southern woodlots by providing an edible yearly crop from areas with low site indexes because of flooding and heavy soils. A great source for more information is the Louisiana Mayhaw Association: .

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Preserving rare forest types

There are many forest types across the country. Pine/hardwood and Post oak types are fairly common in Texas. It seems like every conceivable mix has a name so it can be categorized and catalogued. The large nutmeg hickory I have has increased my awareness of unusual trees and forests. Evidently, nutmeg hickory is rare and could be at risk of extinction in the future because of it being in mixed forests and rarely in pure stands. The only hickory type we have on the property seems to be nutmeg hickory. I have yet to identify another species of hickory, but I am constantly looking because it seems to associate with shagbark which has a similar bark appearance. I have also figured out that we are at the interchange of post oak forest into the East Texas piney woods. It makes for an interesting mix with lots of nutmeg hickory intermingling with Post Oak Savannah. I like the look of shade tolerant grasses gorwing under the trees, even if they are not Post oaks. Post Oak Savannah is considered a threatened forest type from development and farming practices. It is not considered a valuable timber forest type because of poor tree form and the low stocking levels that let in light for the grasses. I wonder how unusual my forest type is? A threatened type transitioning into a rare type? Texas A&M considers the nutmeg hickory to be important enough to collect specimens from a variety of places for a gene bank. It is the transitional species from pecan hickories to true hickories. I also consider it a beautiful tree worth keeping in my forest. Uneven aged management should provide a wide range of tree sizes to offset any disasters. It also helps that it is a prolific seeder and, with the help of squirrels, provides a good stock of saplings to fill any forest openings. As I make improvements to my forest health, I will allow some of these slow growing, stately trees to have a place. A forest does not need to be a single species or a single age. Here are a few academic sites I found helpful in my search for nutmeg hickory information:

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Big trees

Everybody is awed by a big tree, but some are bigger than others. I have been trying to track down the biggest trees on my place and judge them against the Texas and national big tree registries. Sometimes it is close and sometimes they fall well short. I think I have a winner this time. Nutmeg hickory is a fairly rare and somewhat smaller tree than other hickories. I have one that was not real close to the state champ. Well, I forgot to look at the little date of measurement which said 1974. A tree must be reconfirmed every 10 years. Another tree has taken its place which is smaller than mine. I also checked the national champ and it looks like mine has a good chance at that one! Time to really get a move on and actually measure some heights and see what my trees really score.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

I will go with the bad first. The state forester came out, looked around for 15 minutes, and said manage for wildlife. I was disappointed that the only two aspects he considers important are pine production and wildlife. The main trees I have, oak and hickory, are good for wildlife and hardwood timber. He said that hardwood takes to long so don't mess with it. I figured I would get a response like this, but not one devoid of any help at all. The good news is the folks over at have been very helpful with their expertise. I have enough book learning to get a plan in place, and the forum members can help me fill in the gaps and problem areas. The ugly comes in two parts. First is a couple of ugly areas of poor form elm overtopping some nice oak and hickory saplings. The forum members helped me a lot by informing me that it would be a good idea to cut out the poorly formed trees and release these seedlings. The second is the ugly bois d'arc trees I found pushed over may not be good for sawing. I cut up the first on into firewood because of a monster heart check 6" wide splitting the trunk. Combined with the regular exterior checking, the log was toast. I have only trimmed off some of the limbs of the second larger one, but it appears it will be the same. They are going to make over a cord of firewood, so we will have a couple years supply of rot proof firewood on hand.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Milling and finally getting the forester out

First of all, I finally scheduled a date with the state forester. It kind of fell between the tracks between me being patient and them forgetting all about it. April 1st is the day I will finally get some professional help. In the mean time, I have been moving ahead with my plans. I need to get back out there and mill enough bois d'arc for someone. I also have quite a few dead cedar to get milled. I am going to start cutting culls once i have milled these other items. The forest is divided into 5 segments along natural changes or geographic features. I tried to size each to make work easier to plan. Each area has a similar tree density, species types, and problems within it. Each covers an area I should be able to work each year. I will basically have a rotating 5 year work schedule. The first step I am taking is cutting the junk out. The forester will tell me if this is right or wrong, hopefully. I am sure he is going to suggest a clearcut and replant it with pine, but I am not sure I want that. Maybe a small area where the soil is best for pine. I can't wait to see what he can tell me!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Cutting some cull trees

I managed to make it out during the wonderful weather we were having, but is changing in a couple of days to cold and wet. The main purpose was to cut a couple of culls. One was a bois d'arc I was going to use for some duck calls for a fellow. I was not able to tackle the big one I have because of windy weather so I took down a smaller stump sprout attached to a funky, gnarly one I like to look at and will keep. This one served no purpose, was a leaner, and was not healthy. It made a few nice yellow boards, but was not clear enough for many blanks. The area it shaded had some hickory saplings that I would prefer in it's place. The whole area around this bois d'arc is a hickory grove. The other tree I took down was a small crooked cedar elm with a busted up top. Nobody could tell me what the wood looked like and all I have seen is some sapwood boards I made out of a large limb. I decided to sample some for myself. The pic at the top shows the grain and color well. I love the coloration. This log was only 12" on the biggest end. It should make some really nice turning blanks. I sawed the boards thick to straighten them out after drying since elm moves a lot during drying.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Business and marketing a niche product

Ah, the joy of coming up with ways my small business can market it's products. I am currently using the mill to make my own lumber from thinnings and cleanings on the property. The higher the end the end use, the higher the profit I can make. The trees were junk to a luber buyer, the lumber I cut could probably be sold for $2.00 a board foot, or I can make a bench out of about 15-20 board feet and a few hours of my time that sells for $100-$200. The cedars I milled on Monday would have been considered junk by any self respecting forester or logger. They were broken 8-12 feet up, most were standing dead, and they showed signs of insect damage. I could see the diamond in the rough. 100 board feet of beautiful, pink eastern redcedar to make all sorts of rustic items out of. I like to build what I see in the wood, not gather up wood to fit to a plan. A nice leaner had perfect slabs for bench legs or possibly book shelf sides. The smaller diameter logs will yield lots of wall shelves or mini picket fences. All from a few junk logs. I still have several larger standing dead cedars to go that are even bigger, and then I can get started on the hardwoods. The trick is to get the logs cut and air drying so that I can get them in the product pipeline. I need to pay for that sawmill somehow since I want this place to be self supporting. I plan on using Etsy to sell the small items, a local flea market once a month, and my website for larger and commissioned items. I may try to sell unusual lumber pieces on Ebay, but I will post it on the website at first. I should be able to start making items in a month or 2 that I can market as 100% Texan, made in the US, and sustainably harvested.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sawmill is here!

Well, the sawmill is finally home and set up. We had a problem when picking it up with a faulty drive belt. The owner of Mister Sawmill fixed it. I am really glad I asked for a demo run. The drive pully was out of alignment, and that would have been a pain to fix in the field. I ran a test log after getting it to the property and it works well. There is definitely going to be a learning curve with this tool. I went out this past weekend and cleared out some busted, half dead cedar big enough to mill. They cut into ~100 board feet of nice lumber, and one made an especially nice set of 8/4 bookmatched boards for bench legs. I also had my first busted band right at the end of the last cut. Now I need to figure out why. I did not bring a piece home, but you can look at where the cracks start and see chat it might be. Hopefully they don't start at the back since that means the guides are not set up right. Cracks on the front mean something is wrong with feed rate, lube, dull blade, etc. I hope it was just me pushing to hard, and I already know I was not using enough lube. There are still a few more dead cedars to mill and a 8' tall 12" DBH hickory near the mill. I have been wondering what boke their tops out. I get to start fetching logs from farther off with the lawn tractor after that. It pulled a 5'x8' skid pretty well. Hopefully it will pull a log with a skidding cone.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Woodland Steward by James R. Fazio

I am slowly making my way through all of my forestry books to put small reviews here. This is another one of those books. I like this book. The reason I like it is because of the many illustrations. If you are a visual person, then this is the forestry book for you. The book also has a lot of helpful information. It has chapters on all of the pertinent aspects of forestry including inventory, planing, improving, protection, and harvesting. It also has some extra chapters on other ways to make an income through a woodlot and reason other than income for maintaining your woodlot. One chapter in particular stands out in this book. Forestry cannot be pure science. The author goes into the art behind applying scientific principles to a living, growing forest. The one downfall in the book is some of the ideas are a little dated. Fazio's book is very good because of the depth of information and the illustrations, and it makes an excellent secondary book to add to one of the current texts out there.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Weather and new beginnings

Weather seems to be my bane right now. The sawmill from Mistersawmill is delayed again because of the severe thunderstorm blowing down part of their building. First the ice storm and now this. Nature seems at odds with me lately. I have begun construction of my business website: . If you stop by, please keep in mind it is under construction. The site will be used to showcase some larger woodworking projects for sale and show what I can do for commissioned pieces. I will also be showcasing my new sawmill business there. Since the sawmill is mobile, I will be using it to custom saw for customers at their site. I will be practicing a little before I start marketing this new venture. It should key in well with my small item set at . The Etsy site is where I have been selling small boxes for a while now. I just need to get more of them built and posted for sale.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The trees are in

Well, the seedlings finally made it in and I planted them yesterday. The 25 mayhaws went together on a 10-12 foot spacing on a peninsula at the shallow northeast end of the pond. I put some near the waters edge and a couple are in the center of the peninsula. Boy, planting in the soft, sticky clay is a chore! The cypress went in on the opposite shore from the mayhaws. A large section there was flooded for a while and killed off some oaks. I was able to get these in between the drying out and reseeding of terestrial weeds. Hopefully I will not need to mow it to much before the little trees grow above the weeds. They are tough to see in a sea of green and I know a few will fall victim to the mower. I also hope the wildlife stays away from them. I am not to worried about deer, but the hogs are a nuisance. They may uproot them to eat the roots. I sure hope not. I also picked up a 1985 Montgomery Wards lawn tractor made by MTD on craigslist for $150, and it works! Well, except for the loose mower belt and the throttle lever I accidentally borke in half while putting it up for the day. Finally mowed a large portion of the areas that really needed it. The wife is happy now that she will be able to get around in her wheelchair. It seems to be a well built machine, and I am going to fix the small problems it has. It should also have enough power to pull a log arch to fetch logs to the mill.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Picking up speed

Well, things are really moving now. 100 cypress and 25 mayhaw trees are on their way from Arborgen. The dibble bar should make it before they do, and I should be able to get them in the ground before spring. If they ever call to say they shipped. I decided not to wait for the forester to get around to visiting and helping with a plan. A few areas need replanting to a very water tolerant species, and I wanted to get them in the ground now. The mayhaws are jsut for fun. Mmmm, I can already taste the jelly! I also put a deposit down on a sawmill from Mister Sawmill up in Flippin, AR. It should be ready in 2 weeks. I opted for the Model 21 with the 13HP Honda engine and 20' deck. It should handle almost anything I can find to put on it. I sure hope nobody offers me anything larger than I can handle. It will be used to cut some construction lumber for the property, unique wood to sell, and start a mobile sawmill business in the near future.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Planting trees

I have been reviewing every book I can to find the types of trees to plant in some thinly stocked and open areas near the pond. It floods periodically and some of the areas have dead oak trees where high water suffocated them. I believe I am going to plant some cypress in the open areas. They should look nice from a pond standpoint. I am going to plant them as a crop tree with the thinnings going into my portablse sawmill as small boards for around the place. I may plant some tupelo to mix it up a little with the cypress. The thin areas have a few good trees I would like to leave. A tolerant or intermediate species is a must in this area so the options are a little limited. I came across a book that discussess sycamore as a crop tree. I believe I will try this in a test and see how they do. Sycamore does not naturally occur in groves and is usually in a mixed forest. It grows to 65' in 20 years on good sites, which I have. It is intermediate, so it should work well in the openings created when I cut out the malformed stems this year. I am going to research it some more since the trees will not be planted until next year. I may get a few cypress in this year since no clearing will be needed.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Pond Boss regional meeting

Wow, what a group of people with ponds. I attended the regional meeting today hoping to learn a little about fish. I came away with some new friends and quite a bit of knowledge. We went to see two ponds that have not filled. I wish there was a way to redevelop the structure of a pond without removing the water. I discussed the ability to fluctuate the water levels with Bob Lusk. He told me the spawning habits of fish in these situations. The fish want to fill up the newly enlarged pond with a larger spawn. Lowering the pond then shrinks the size and concentrates the forage fish. This leads to larger predators due to increased food. In short, the largemouth bass get bigger faster and could get bigger overall. I believe a project may be in the works this summer so that I can try the principle. The flood would occur just before spawn to open up new spawning areas and flood terrestrial plants for cover. The water would be allowed to drop to the original pond level after the spawn to concentrate all of the new forage. A few bags of concrete, some 2x4's, and a pile of compacted clay in the back should be enough to dam the water in the spillway creek. If it works, then a stronger concrete structure with a penstock may take its place. A big thank you to Chris Steelman and Frank Peeples for having us at their places

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Farming the Small Forest

A Guide for the Landowner by Laurence C. Walker. Ah, another book from my large library of forestry books. I think this is probably the best manual for someone to read as their introduction into forestry. It has the plainest english, the best layout, and is very clear and concise on all of the major issues. Sadly, it is out of print but is readily available used. The incentive programs are out of date, but they do show the reader the types of programs that could be available. Other chapters focus on management styles including their pros and cons. The book has a large administration section that covers inventory, plans and other info. Financial matters are also discussed including timber pricing, appraising land, and costs. Another section covers non-timber management considerations. Finally, the book goes into stewardship. Overall, I feel this is a great book for the new landowner or an aspiring forest owner because of the broad spectrum of forestry information and the topics on financials and land appraisal. Edit: Found a site selling it new:

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Forest Manager

A Handbook for Farm Woodlot Owners and Others Who Manage Their Woodlands by Dr. Karl Dannecker and published by The American Forestry Association in 1939. The book discusses the topic I have been looking for in forestry books for a long time. Dauerwald, a German idea that treats the forest as a single living organism. The book is actually a translation of the original german text and omits sections specific to Germany, such as laws. It also makes some minor adjustments to adapt the original work to American forests. They actually weigh the options of every management type in the book. You can tell that the uneven aged selection method is favored in specific forms. By selecting the inferior first, you can build a better forest. The inability to regenerate intolerant species such as oak has been the main argument against selection management styles. This is the first book that outlines a method to completely avoid those problems. It is also the only book I have seen that focuses on forest soils as the key to a healthy forest. I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to manage a healthy, biodiverse, uneven-aged forest and wants to keep oaks as a component. I believe the reason this method dropped out of favor is it was a German idea in the '30's so American did not want anything to do with it and the Germans actually stopped using it during the war because they needed all the material they could get.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Mike Otto comes for a visit

Mike Otto, pond builder extraordinaire, came out to look over the pond dam to make sure everything was in order. I sure did not want to build anything that was going to be in the way of any repair work. I had tried to describe the pond over the phone, but he had to come in person. It is one of those "you need to see it to believe it" sort of situations. We walked around the entire pond. He figured out that the drain pipe is only for extreme emergencies and is fine. The main means of removing water is a carefully engineered rerouting of a seasonal creek. It drains directly into the pond until full. The water then becomes high enough to travel north into the creek bed, around the end of the dam, and south again in the original creek bed. No spillway needed and the chances of dam problems from it is virtually nonexistent. He also discussed putting in a gate instead of the culvert at the end of the dam for a foot more water in the pond. It could work to seasonally flood the shallow end for duck habitat. One other important detail he informed me about was trees on the dam. He said they are no problem on my dam. We found 3 very large stumps, and they are not producing leaks. If you need a pond dug in north Texas or have a question about one, then Mike Otto is the man to see: Overall, it was a productive day learning what I should and should not do, and even got a little work done trimming trees around the pond.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Earth Ponds book review

The book is written by Tim Matson and has seen several editions. I have the second edition. The book starts out in the first half just telling the story of the authors experiences with his and neighbors' ponds. It is entertaining in these chapters, but not very helpful. The second half of the book is the real meat. He goes into the building, maintenance, and restoration of ponds. A little of the info is outdated. He talks about draglines a lot which are not used so much anymore. The information is also focused on New England and traut ponds quite a bit. I would recommend this as a secondary book for someone reading up on ponds. Bob Lusk's books through the Pond Boss magazine site are better, in my opinion.

Friday, January 2, 2009

A day to play!

I managed to get out out to the woods just to have some fun. No deer, so the freezers going to be a bit empty. A lot of wildlife was out and about, though. Squirrels, a couple of ducks, a big hawk, and lots of little migratory birds. I made sure I searched for some freshwater mussel shells fo identification and found several. These are listed as a rare species by TPWD and can make a property eligible for the LIP program: . I also went in to the woods to inspect an odd couple of trees I had not identified. They look like Western Soapberry, but I will need to wait for spring to check the leaves. One more species of native to add to my biodiversity list. Things are looking good to move forward with my conservation plans.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Management and Inventory of Southern Hardwoods

Another quick review of a book. This book is from the US Deparment of Agriculture Forest Service and is their agriculture handbook no. 181. It was written by John A. Putnam, George M. furnival, and J.S. McKnight in 1960. The handbook has chapters on southern forests including types, preliminary managment, advanced managment, and inventory. There are some great photos and diagrams withn the book. It also has an excellent table listing many of the hardwoods and a few softwoods found in the South with a lot of info about each. The giant tree table at the back is also helpful, though a little confusing until you get used to it. The handbook is very helpful for anyone, even those in other parts of the country to some extenet. As usual, some of the harvest and management information can be a little dated because of the age of the book, but other more recent books specialize in this. I recommend it if you can find one at a decent price used because of the overall picture and helpful tidbits. You can also download it by searching at the Forest Service Treesearch website (which was not working at this time):