Forest Coming Down; Grassland Choking
The raven fledglings left the nest on May 23, 2013.
In the next couple of days there was a lot of commotion up in the trees. The wind was up again and the little birds swung precariously from whatever branch they had caught in their first fumbled leap into the sky. High in the blue pines the fledglings were shuttering their wings, the act of vibrating their wings in a half folded position that most young birds do when calling to their parents. They were also making a curious arrrling sound. It is almost like a growl but with “ar” sound. In raven speech this seems to say “I’m up here. Looking for help. Got food! The parents were busy flying from bird to bird offering encouragement by demonstrating small leaps to the next tree and bringing the fledglings food soaked in water from the water troughs below.
Meanwhile I have problems of my own.
The forest has spoken again: “We are getting too big and changes are coming.”
The wind brought down large branch from the massive blue pine at the lower corner of the drive. The branch crashed into the upper goat pen but never broke free. It splintered at the trunk of the tree creating an arch to the ground. This was probably a good thing since the goats were in the pen when it came down. If it had broken free, it might have crushed any one of the animals. The branch filled most of the pen and I was so preoccupied with my own concerns that I did not see that the branch had fallen. (This happened right outside my window where I was working and you think I would have heard something.) Entering the goat pen to feed the goats I did not notice that there was something wrong with this picture, until I set the food box down to open the gate.
So how am I going to clean up this broken tree?
The limb is hanging forty to fifty feet up in the air. At first I was pretty depressed at the magnitude of the toppled branch. Eventually it is going to come down and someone has to climb up the tree to cut it free.
But then I began to see this big “lemon” of a problem as my answer to a summer goat shelter. On one side the snags were driven into the ground bracing the broken limb. With some more bracing on the upper side and some trimming out of the snags hanging loose and a covering (plastic tarp at first then maybe cement when I have time)… Wow! I would have an armature for a structure that would provide protection from the wind and rain. Later I could find someone to drop the rest of the wood from the tree…
I have posted several articles on the forest at PsiKeep but a third of the property is meadow land. The meadow at PsiKeep is a tangle of vegetation thrusting up through the dried stock of the previous year’s growth. Emerging out of this cycle of thrust and die is a triumphant player, star thistle.
Over the years I have watched the star thistle slowly creeping up the slope. For the last few years I have found it growing in the orchard. This is a tough little plant worthy of some respect. Unchallenged it is growing everywhere. At the end of May what little green you see along the side of the road is star thistle, which has not yet dried out. Unfortunately a lot of people are choosing to use Roundup weed killer in a war against the thistle. This is not an option here and soon it will not be an option anywhere else. We have to find a use for this tenacious little plant because it is taking over.
There have been some attempts to find a use for star thistle. I did purchase some thistle honey once and I found that it was quite tasty. Several crafts people are claiming to have made paper from the fiber. Unfortunately livestock, including goats, will not eat the mature plants.
I came across this interesting video which presents an entirely different approach to managing grasslands
Posted on May 30, 2013, in Caretaking the Forest, Psi Keep Center for the Arts, Ravens, Uncategorized, Unforeseen Events and tagged art center,, brush clearing, care taking land, forest, forest maintenance, grassland, grassland conservation, grassland management, sculpture workshops, star thistle. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.