Friday, December 9, 2016

Prescribed Fire Pruning

As a side note to the previous post: The rain has finally come and some places in the county are seeing signs of Southern Pine Beetles from the stress on the trees from the drought but we are seeing the soil moisture starting to come back.

I wanted to share a picture of a stand of 22 year old loblolly pines that had a prescribed fire under them this last spring, about March 22.  This is later than I like to burn but it was the best time we had with the weather like it had been up to this point.  Below is the results of this late burn which got hot, a little hotter than I like.  
Because it was later and the fire was hotter, it killed the lower limbs on the trees.  This was a bonus to the prescribed fire because it took out much of the under-story and it also served as a natural pruning of the trees which will add to the value of the wood at a later date.  The pruning was an unintended consequence with valuable results.  It will be interesting to watch this stand and see what the trees will look like in the next five to ten years. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

60+/- Days With No Rain

The drought has really been bad this fall.  We have no green food plots, water is drying up, and the threat of wildfire is ever looming. This is making it tough for wildlife this year.  Last week I saw the track of a bear in the dust in one of our food plots.  He was traveling around and was eating acorns that had fallen.  Hopefully this drought will end soon and we will get the much needed rain of winter.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Summer and Fall Wildlife Food Plots

My daughter and I planted in the dust our fall plots this past week in hopes of getting some rain off of Hurricane Mathew.  We planted a mixture of seed giving the wildlife a variety of plants to browse on if we get rain before the seed is eaten up by the birds.
Below is a picture of our largest field we plant for wildlife being about three acres. 
This field has had some fall crops planted in strips: but we chose not to plow under the complete field.  You might ask why?  The reason is the field will continue to produce a high protein forage until frost.  This field was planted in sunn hemp as was most of our summer plantings.  Some places in the field the plant has gotten about ten feet tall.  Deer love this stuff.  They are slow to eat it the first year because the protein is so high in the plant but after they get started they will destroy small field plantings of this crop.  Below shows the results of deer eating the plant.
Some of the plants have been topped three times and have leafed back out to produce more forage.  The plants that are tall have had the leaves stripped off as far up the plant as the deer can reach.  
Why sunn hemp?  The leaves contain 28 to 30 percent protein where alfalfa is about 20 percent.  It is an annual crop and will not reseed because it is tropical so you don't have to worry about it becoming a weed.  It grows well in our soil types and because of its rapid growth it adds organic matter to the soil.  It is a legume that they claim will add 100 pounds of nitrogen, 10 pounds of phosphorus, and 80 pounds of potash to the acre.  
This is the second year for us to plant sunn hemp and we are very pleased with it. 

Friday, September 16, 2016


Below is the link to this special report from a study made of private forest landowners in the southern states by the American Forest Foundation, Chris Erwin.  


I hope you enjoy these findings.  As a private landowner in Alabama this report showed what I already knew about private forest landowners that I am acquainted with.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Spraying For Longleaf Planting

Last week we had our tract that is to be reforested this year sprayed.  As soon as the foliage dies back we will do a prescribed burn of the property to prepare it for planting this winter.  We are going to plant native longleaf pines on this tract.  It joins another tract that has four year old longleaf pines already established on it.  This site was harvested this spring in order to convert it to longleaf pines.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Monday, June 27, 2016

US Forest Service- Thirteen States Meet

 The USFS recently met in Atlanta, Georgia, and came over to East Alabama for part of the day back on June the 7th.  The group toured Munford Elementary and met at the high school for discussion about partners with the USFS.  The USFS partnered with Munford to develop the schools with a forestry them throughout the schools.  If you ever get the opportunity to visit the schools I recommend you go and see how interesting the schools were designed.
I was invited to speak to the group about landowner/USFS relations and how we work together in the Talladega District of the forest.  Originally they were to visit our property but travel restraints kept us from having them on our property so my son helped me develop a virtual tour of some of the work we have done in our forest.  Below is the video I showed to the group as I talked about our forest management. It was an interesting day talking with state foresters from Texas to Virginia and answering questions they had about our management plan. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

More Road Work

We have just completed our newest section of road work.  This road goes through a newly harvested section of our property that will be planted in longleaf pines this December.  You can see here where the road passes through the stream-side management zone (SMZ) to protect the stream and provide a travel path for wildlife.  
This road was constructed to give us another access to our property.  We planted the sides of the road and put down hay for mulch before having #4 gravel applied to control erosion and make it possible for us to travel in wet weather.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Earth Day 2016

Every day is "Earth Day" on a well managed tree farm.  This morning as my wife and I ate breakfast I grabbed the camera and made a picture at our bird feeder of this visitor.  This was the first time we had seen him and he was so beautiful.
Rose-Breasted Grosbeak

Earlier this week we got a picture of an eagle that had just flown up into this sweetgum tree near our property.  Nothing says freedom more than this majestic bird! 
As I said, "Every day is Earth Day on our property!"

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Great News For American Family Tree Farms

Yesterday the US Green Building Council started recognizing certified wood from America's Tree Farms.  This is an important milestone for Family Tree Farms.  Click on the link below for more information.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Before And After

Longleaf Pines

Here you will see some of the reasons prescribed fire is such a good tool in forest and wildlife management.  Not all the advantages will be discussed but you will see enough here on  the why of prescribed fire.
Below is a picture one week before a prescribed fire is used on this four year old, forty acre tract of longleaf pines.
And here is the result of the burn a week later.
Longleaf pines thrive in an area that is burned regularly .  This tract was burned two years ago so this is the second time fire has been used on these longleaf pines.
The fire removes competition from the stand and increases the browse for wildlife. I think a well managed stand of longleaf pines is as good as any food plot you can plant for deer and turkey.

Loblolly Pines

The next day we used a prescribed fire on this twenty-two year old stand of loblolly pines.  This fire was about 130 acres and it made the forth time this stand was prescribed burned for management.
This is what the stand looked like before the prescribed fire.  Notice how little there is for wildlife to eat.  The under growth has become woody and the forest floor has only pine straw.
After the prescribed fire most of the woody undergrowth is burned or killed.  This causes new tender growth to emerge in about a week and more sunlight can reach the forest floor to cause forest legumes to germinate.  This really increases the food available to wildlife.  
A prescribed burn program also protects the forest from wildfire.  If the weather turns off dry and wildfire becomes a problem then this stand is protected because a hot wildfire can't burn through this stand.
In just a few days this under-story will be as green as any place you can find in a forest.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Things Happening On Our Land

Last week we had firebreaks raked  out around 125 acres of 22 year old loblolly pines in preparation for a controlled burn.  This burn is to control undergrowth and to improve the wildlife habitat.  This will make the fourth time this stand has been burned for management.  A prescribed fire helps keep down the danger of wildfire and the risk of damage to the trees and wildlife.
Other happenings:
We have started a timber harvest on this tract of mature trees that joins another tract of 3 year old longleaf pines.  We are going to convert this tract to longleaf pines also.  We are having some good wood harvested on this tract that will be made into lumber and plywood for new home construction.  Longleaf seedlings will be planted here as soon as possible after the harvest.  All of our property is on native mountain longleaf  pine sites and we are converting all our sites back to longleaf pine where it is feasible to use prescribed fire as a management tool.  Planting and managing  longleaf pines really helps improve the habitat for wildlife.   

Monday, February 22, 2016

Boundary Lines

Painting boundary lines can be a messy job if you are like me.  My wife told me today that I had blue paint on my ear.  That didn't surprise me because that just happens in the briers and thickets.  Property lines don't always go through the easy trails.
This painting was a repaint job so it was easier than painting new lines.  Tools I use when painting starts with a cheap paint brush, and something to scrape the bark off the tree to make it easier to paint and the paint will stay on longer.  I have used a machete but now I use a drawknife.  The drawknife works the best and you do less damage to the witness tree.  Keeping your property marked has many advantages.  It helps keep hunters safer by staying on the property they have permission to hunt and other hunters on adjoining landowners can know when they are at a boundary. 
 Heirs will know where the property lines are if something should happen to you.  Our grandchildren know when they see blue paint that this is the boundary line for their property.  They always mention the blue paint.  There are several colors of paint you can use.  I always buy from Nelson paint which is located in Montgomery, Alabama.  If you don't know the correct way to paint the lines you need to get someone that knows how to paint the lines the correct way the first time for you and then in the future you could do the repaint. 
Lines have to be repainted between five and eight years, depending on the quality of paint.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Frozen Snakes, Not In Some Places

We are in the dead of winter here in Alabama and yesterday we had the coldest day of the year so far at 19 degrees.  It stayed in the 30's all day.  
My uncle thought this would be a good time to get out and work around his Treasure Forest cutting some brush with the chainsaw and cleaning out around an old truck cab. There was other metal near the cab.  
Because of the cold and for protection of his hand he had on work gloves and that probable saved him from having to take anti-venom.

He went into the house to warm up and took his gloves off because he said his hands were so cold that they were numb.  When he took his gloves off the tip of his ring finger started to swell, hurt and itch.  In a short time it began to turn purple and he noticed two spots on his finger where the skin had been penetrated. The finger started throbbing.  
He went to the emergency room where the doctor said he had been bitten by a copperhead.  He told him that the glove probably kept the bit from being more severe but if it started swelling more down his finger to come back quickly.  He was given antibiotics to help control infection.
So, just because it is cold doesn't mean you shouldn't be aware snakes.  
The snake was probably angry because he was rolled out of his warm bed!   

Friday, January 8, 2016

Get Out In The Great Outdoors

It is amazing at what you might find in the "Great Outdoors"!

Turkey Tail Mushrooms

This early morning I was out on our property hunting in the heavy mist and I came upon this creation coming out of the stump of a water oak.  It was beautiful to me and I had to make a picture of it.  The extremely wet and warm weather we have had in the past month is probably the cause of this neat discovery.