It's That Time of Year: Boy Does Time Fly!

in #homesteading4 months ago (edited)

It seems like only yesterday when we cleared a 3 acre plot smack in the middle of the woods, and started our tree farm.
Ten years seem to have passed in the blink of an eye!

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It was a family affair, appreciated by all.

Headed up by the big guy, our son @ryan313.
Children, as well as trees, reveal just how fast time flies. They both sprout up at an alarming rate, as the years tick by.
Both children and trees will flourish if nurtured.
Both can fill your hearts with joy. Knowing that you we have played a big role in them being able to stand tall, with a network of roots that will help them weather most storms, fills us with pride.


Well, now that I've taken a little walk down Memory Lane, let's get back to the crux of the matter.
Ten years have passed and these bad boys have done pretty well.
It's time for them to shape up or ship out.

It's that time of year again, Winter pruning the Black Walnut, Figured Poplar, and Black Cheery trees we planted almost 10 years ago.
Our goal in planting just under 200 of these trees was to establish a stand of quality hardwoods.
Along with the Superior Grafted trees we purchased from Advanced Tree Technology, came this booklet.
It is the bible of what to do, and what not to do, when caring for these trees.

We were not looking to grow just your average tree, our goal was to grow hardwoods that would scale out as Veneer Grade.
When harvested, a bolt of veneer grade Black Walnut, with a 24" diameter, can be worth as much as $8,000.00/ bolt.
In this case, a bolt would be a ten foot section of the tree's trunk.

With our farm being located squarely in Growing Zone #5, Winter pruning can be done starting January 1st.
Winter Pruning is a must if you expect to end up with veneer grade timber.
All of the trees will be winter pruned, but only some of the trees will have to be pruned at the very top.
Before pruning, it's a good idea to identify the ones that need to be pruned at the very top, and tag them.
This can be done on a day of your choosing, and that day can be a day like this one.
Living at our location, January temps can stay very cold for long periods of time, and pruning just under 200 trees can take several days.
Knowing in advance exactly which trees need Central Leader pruning, will save me hours of exposure to some very frigid temperatures. Tempts after the 1st of the year can remain in the low twenties for weeks. Factor in windchill, and you can see why tagging early is a good idea.

The top of the tree pictured here is about 20 feet tall. This is exactly what I'm looking for. There is only one central leader, and it is in the lead as it reaches for the heavens.


As you can see from this picture, this tree has no central leader, and instead, the top of the tree has many branches reaching to the heavens.

Frost, insects, or trauma are the most common reasons for central leader damage.
If the CL dies, several new branches will now grow at the top of the tree.
When I prune this tree, I will eliminate all but one of the branches.
If possible, it is best to leave the branch that is pointing into the prevailing wind.
If that is impossible, I will leave the branch that is pointing in the most northerly direction.

This is another example where some pruning at the top of the tree will be necessary.
In this photo you can see that there is a well defined CL, but some of the adjacent branches want to get on the LEADER BOARD, not happening, they will be pruned to about half of their existing length.
The leader in this race always needs to be the CENTRAL LEADER!
Only 32 trees will require CENTRAL LEADER pruning.

So how would you trim these Black Walnut trees?

The end product we are looking for is a straight bolt of lumber, minimum length of 8 feet.
Keeping one CENTRAL LEADER will accomplish this.
What a gorgeous day, ha!

Another aspect of winter pruning is to prune side branches.
Every year all 200 trees will have a couple of side branches removed.
The ratio you are looking to maintain is 1/3 trunk to 2/3 foliage. This ratio is maintained for the first 8 years of the tree's life.
After the eighth year of pruning, you want to keep a balance of 50% trunk, and 50% foliage.
When side pruning, I'll try to remove branches that are opposite each other. Pruning this way will keep the tree well balanced.IMG_8410.JPG

In this pic you can see some of the trees I've marked with orange tape. These are the ones that will require central leader pruning, as well as side branch pruning.


When pruning any branch, you want to leave a stub, you don't want to cut the branch flush with the trunk.
The cut also needs to be cut perpendicular to the ground.
Making all of the cuts in this fashion will allow the injury made by pruning, to heal quicker.

As can be seen in the next 2 pics, the trees are growing around the stubs that were left from previous pruning.
I don't know about you, but I think this is pretty cool. Mother Nature is there for the viewing.

The next 2 pics are of trees that have had to battle to stay alive. Their tenacity to remain upright is remarkable to observe.
They are stubborn.

This picture captures the shear determination this tree had, in order to avoid returning to it's previous form, carbon.


You might think that damage of this sort would decrease the value of the wood, just the opposite is true.
If the tree can stay alive while it is healing from an injury of any sort, (bugs, weather, fungus , trauma), the grain patterns in the previously damaged area will be spectacular. Color and shades of the wood will change.
Once milled, dried, and worked, these damaged areas of the tree provide some of the most spectacular pieces.


Here are some unique pieces of Hard Maple, Black Walnut, and White Pine that I milled, and used in the construction of our home.


Much of the wood's character can be traced back to it being damaged some where along the way.






We milled this piece of Black Walnut,


and ended up with several slabs of beautiful wood.


With a small piece of one on the slabs, I made this Black Walnut coffee table.
The grain pattern is sick, and the different shades of brown make the eye want to smile.

I hope you enjoyed, and I'll be happy to keep those who are interested up to date on how the pruning goes.

It would be nice to duplicate this weather, when I grab the saw.


Something very sweet and complete about pruning, cycles, treasured furniture and looking back over past years whilst shaping a future.

Loved this post in so many ways.

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Thank you @artemislives for the wonderful compliment. Sorry for the late reply, we were back in NJ celebrating the holidays.

Beautiful photographs and an excellent initiative to be able to cultivate and to maintain these trees because this way we contribute to the environment that so much needs it, the trees serve as support to release oxygen and to be able to give a respite to our great green world. One of the things that I liked the most to be able to take care of and know how to maintain all those trees and how great that from them we can obtain great benefits for the family, community and society. It is a great work, the photographs are so clear, excellent and descriptive. Thank you very much for bringing a grain of arna to humanity, plus congratulations on the vote of curie.


Thank you @nathyortiz for taking the time to read this post. It seems as though you and me are on the same page when it comes to nature. What a great learning experience it's for our grandchildren as well. At a very young age they seem to be getting the big picture. Whenever they visit, we spend hours in the woods together sharing the wonders of the outdoors.

Thanks again for a wonderful reply, it's always appreciated.

Beautiful woodwork! I learned a good bit about these woods and how they develop from this post.

Always gives me a little chill when someone learns something from what I have posted.

Your kind words are always appreciated and never taken for granted😁!

One thing I have learned about getting chills as a response to anything: pay attention! It's important! My body is speaking, so listen!

What a project! I'm surprised to see how much they grew over 10 years but probably you are right when you say that about kids as well as about trees :)

I like that it's a family project and all of you work on it together :)

Thank you for sharing and have a lovely day!

@delishtreats thank you for reading this post. One of the best aspects about this whole project is sharing it with family. The grandchildren just love taking hikes in the woods, and I always like to teach them a thing or two on our adventures.

hi dear @thebigsweed, you wrote a beautiful post! I loved the descent of the growth of children as the growth of trees, with strong roots but ready to rise to the sky! you have a nice family. beautiful even the photos that accompanied your story and the strength of the trees you described. congratulations for your work in the forest and for crafts with wood ;-D keep on

Thank you for taking the time from your day to read this post. I have a passion for the outdoors and sharing that with other steemians is a pleasure. The greatest compliment a parent can get is to have someone notice their family in a positive light. After spending the last 4 days back in New Jersey with all of our children and grandchildren we continue to realize just how fortunate we are.
Thanks again for such kind words @road2horizon

It all seems like a lot of work but foot to see everyone pitch in. Would be good to see the pruning process so do keep us informed. You deserve a break though so put the feet up and have a good weekend relaxing. (Yes, I know that's probably not going to happen.). 😉

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Many hands make light of the work, not that I consider anything I do these days, work @glenalkp.

Funny thing, I did get a chance to kick up my feet this weekend, as we visited with the family for 4 days. Lots of food, drink, laughter, football, and good times, exactly what the doctor ordered.

Will stay in touch my friend, we're back in the woods.👍

Seems like a good weekend and you had fun. That's the main thing right? Life's too short not to have fun.

What a wonderful post, time sure does fly.

And they say the passing of time only picks up the pace as you get older. We had better get busy @farm-mom. 😍

Hi thebigsweed,

This post has been upvoted by the Curie community curation project and associated vote trail as exceptional content (human curated and reviewed). Have a great day :)

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Hello @curie, we've been away for several days, and when I kicked up the computer, it put a big smile on my face to see that you guys had stopped by. It is always appreciated to have a post of mine curated by a real person, and then be recognized for its quality. You guys, have a wonderful day also.

I'm all pumped up, thanks.

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Thanks @build-it.assist for for the manual upvote. I will look into build-it, and I'm excited to see what you guys are all about.

Thanks for the info.

Thanks @build-it.assist for for the manual upvote. I will look into build-it, and I'm excited to see what you guys are all about.

Thanks for the info.