We’ve been slowly pushing back the cedars in the future orchard/fruit field behind the house, and recently reached a milestone, breaking through the north end of the cedars to the small pasture beyond. Above, you see two paired photos from September ’08 and Feb ’09. These are almost the exact same orientation and location; compare the two large stumps at lower right to convince yourself, and don’t be fooled by the changing location of fresh straw. We’ve found that it’s very easy for these views to look the same, with the ever-present wall of cedars no matter how many we’ve cut, so breaking through to the top at upper left was a very exciting moment when progress finally became clear.
This work takes a while because we insist on doing it sustainably, using most of the tree. We chip most of the green material and branches, which means spending time trimming them to fit in our chipper. We use the smaller logs for posts and permanent bed liners, and have the larger ones milled for lumber. This would be much, much faster with a bulldozer and a massive burn pile, but that’s such a waste. This way we generate all sorts of valuable on-farm products (I think the lumber alone pays for the time) and leave the soil intact. Look at that lower photo; the ground would not look like that if we were bulldozing these trees. As it is, we’ll be putting in the first berry plantings this year and starting fruit trees in 2010, having preserved our topsoil and its nutrients.