The section of pines furthest to the west that was cleared still needs quite a bit of work, but I already appreciate the backdrop. There are quite a few young oak trees throughout the cleared area and I expect that I will have to thin some areas in a few years since many seem too close together.
|Looking south on the east edge of the property|
|Looking SW from the tower|
The view from the deer stand really gives you an idea of much pine brush I have been piling for the last month. Some of the cleared areas have really started greening up, but I'm pretty sure some of it is undesirable cool season grasses.
|Looking north from the tower|
I have avoided disturbing the woods and marsh that makes up the back half of the property this Fall since there was so much disturbance with the pine trees being removed. It has been several years since I did any major cutting in this area and it has once again developed into fairly thick cover.
Of the areas I have cleaned up, this section has so far been given the most attention and has the least amount of brush remaining to be picked up. The deer have been frequenting the area due to the new growth in the disturbed areas. The brush piles have been attracting rodents and rabbits and the trail camera has shown an increased amount of fox activity in the area during the past few weeks.
The small pond that was dug a few years ago hasn't had much attention yet. Most of the trees around it were left standing and I intend to leave them there for at least a year to see how they react to the new growing conditions. A couple weeks ago I moved the trail camera back to the pond after a one month period on the corner of the field.
There has been a lot of rain in the last few months and the pond is higher than it has been in past years. I expect the deer to frequent the pond just as much as when it was surrounded by woodland and if I'm lucky some new types of animals may show up. A while back I retired the ATV trail section that was on the north edge of the pond.
Further up the edge of the field one of the giant oaks is much more exposed with the pines removed. Decades ago there was a barbed wire fence line along the edge of the property and I suspect that is one of the main reasons this tree survived. I placed a 5 gallon bucket next to the tree to show the scale of the wild grape vines that reach to the top of the oak tree.
The remaining logs were removed recently and I have started working on the brush wall that will border the southern edge of the cleared area. For the first couple years it will act as a screen from the road and to discourage trespassing with vehicles (which is not uncommon in my area).
The roadside prairie I planted a few years ago is looking pretty solid and I don't have any concerns with its development. There have been few invasive weeds and the warm season grasses are finally starting to mature. This year there were a number of Stiff Goldenrod flowers and I don't remember seeing any the year before. Of all the areas I have planted around the property, this area has been the slowest to establish.
Further down the road the area I seeded at the end of 2015 is finishing its first year. This area used to be a driveway about a decade ago, but since we don't need to park vehicles here it functions better as more native habitat. The area was kept trimmed to below 1' the first year to keep weeds from setting seed and to allow light to reach the seedlings. I surveyed the area while doing the final cutting a few weeks ago and it was exciting to see a very few problem weeds.
Another year on, the sand prairie looks as good as ever. The warm season grasses has matured for the most part, but I'm still waiting to see if any Prairie Dropseed patches form. This was the areas fourth growing season after being planted in 2012. In the background you can also see the Tamarack in the backyard in peak Fall color.