A bit of blogkeeping:
So, part of running a blog is trying to come up with a comprehensible posting system. A regularly occurring post here will be a weekly update covering some of my activities on the farm. If you want more frequent updates, you can head over to the Facebook page I created.
Also, I’m still getting used to WordPress (not to mention Facebook, which I haven’t used in six years). Please bear with me as I try to get the images and text formatted properly.
To be completely fair, this weekly update could cover the past three since the city lumberjacks visited for the first time and began taking down the agreed upon trees.
Basically- and this post is coming before the rest of the backstory to simply keep this blog a bit more lively- the city agreed to my request to have quite a few trees taken down in order to create more space and light. There’ll be a more detailed account of those trees and why in the backstory series, so keep watching this space for that.
The key thing there is that the city would take the trees down and leave the rest to me. If you’ve ever cut down a large tree before, you know that the felling is the quickest part. Cleaning up the tree takes significantly more time, even with a chainsaw (which I haven’t employed yet). So I’ve been lopping and sawing off branches and hauling them to piles for three weeks straight- which is a lot of work when the total number of trees is well over three dozen mature birch, spruce, and poplar (as in, trees over 20m tall).
The branches have been organized by whether they are deciduous or coniferous so that when I rent the chipping machine I’ll have piles of each. Deciduous mulch will be used on growing beds, while the chips from the spruce trees will be used on high frequency pathways and areas I don’t intend to grow anything. This is mostly because of their effect on the soil pH, with coniferous trees often lowering the pH and deciduous ones staying about neutral. I also need to consult with the manufacturer of the machine to find out just how many cubic meters of spruce you can chip before the blades become so covered in sap they quit working properly. Renting a 100e/day machine means you’ve got to do some research beforehand.
The trunks of the trees will either be used to line pathways, be inoculated with edible mushrooms, further cut into usable timber, as walls for raised nursery beds, etc. Nothing will be burned (unless I get permission to do some biochar demonstrations) or sent off site. The carbon and nutrients are entirely too valuable in an agroecological system to be sold off, which the city was quite happy to learn.
If you were to approach the farm from main entry, it wouldn’t look like much has happened in these past three weeks. The topography hides much of the space from view and I’ve also been working from the “bottom” up.
Coming from the other direction, it becomes clear something has been happening but you still can’t get a good grasp of the scale of the cutting and organizing.
Even from just in front of the barn, the pile of spruce is so large that it looks like I’ve been pretty lazy. Head down where the old hedgerow stood and the view changes quite dramatically though:
While many of the logs are still in place, most of the branches have been removed into large piles ready for the chipper. You can even see the ground again. The trunks will be rearranged once the branches are out of the way, and that won’t take too long (comparatively) to do.
Another view that was hidden from the last photo show about half of the birches that were cut. Off to the right is where I’ll be making my first beds as they are the furthest north- meaning they get the most sunlight during the beginning and end of the growing season. It’s also the warmest spot on the property since the factory creates quite the microclimate.
Now, three weeks later, I’m about one or two work days away from having the branches from these sections nearly complete. Once the final spruces are cleaned up, the site will be “revealed” to passerbys. But the work isn’t quite done yet a I have two very large poplars and three huge willows on the other side of the property to work on before I can consider renting the chipper. Even then things won’t be finished as there are still another six poplars on this side to take down.
In a way it was good that it took so long for my farm to get approved as the amount of work simply to get sunlight is enormous and by doing this in the fall, I’m not as inclined to rush and perhaps hurt myself in the process.
Still, I mean to take a few days this coming week to work on other projects like setting up some on-the-cheap caterpillar tunnels for experimenting with a late crop of bok choy & radish in addition to preparing ground for garlic.
One of the main reasons I’ve put cleaning up these trees at the top of my priority list is that their cutting was a gift from the city- easily a few thousand euros worth of work. To simply have left the trees lying around while I did other things would simply not look good to passerbys.
Secondly, you can’t make permanent beds before trees are cut. Having a mature tree smash into them and all of the walking around it takes to haul the tree off is a recipe for disaster.
So, stay tuned for more updates on the backstory and hopefully the following week will see something other thab forestry work.