Tree Hugger

Tree Hugger Holly

We have been working on marking for clearing of new pastures. This is a long process which we began last year. I was supposed to have the marking done last fall but there were delays, as happens. Primarily we flagged trees to save to make the boundaries as well as leaving some for shade within the pastures. I have a tendency to flag trees as keepers as they are difficult to put backup once cut.

Within the pasture areas I looked for beech and apple to keep as they’ll provide food for the animals. Where the trees are thinner the woods are filled with raspberries, strawberries and blueberries. As we clear trees the berry bushes explode filling the new pastures and providing tons of sweet morsels for both us and the wildlife. This was a silver lining of the ice storm which cost us 150 acres of prime hardwoods including the top of our sugar bush.

Out in the middle of the woods are foundations and long stone walls, showing that where we’re clearing now used to be pastures long ago. Lloyd, whom we bought the land from, said that when he was a young man he hayed most of the valley. It is amazing to think about. That’s some steep land for haying! I would not want to try that with a tractor even with the wheels set out wide like we have ours. By hand with a scythe would be safer but that’s a lot of land to swing a stick at.


In some places along the stone walls are very old maple trees, wolf maples, that were old when the land was clear back during the late 1700’s and early 1800’s. Some of them are nearly 5′ in diameter. That measurement is across, not around. I can’t even begin to hug those trees. They have branches bigger than most of the trees around here. The ice storm of 1998 tore some of them down but a fair number still survive. I’ve flagged the healthy ones to save. Perhaps they’ll live another century.

At the north west corner of where the north field will extend to when we are done cutting is a boulder dropped by the glaciers. The rock is about the size of our tiny cottage. It will be an interesting vantage point from which to look down the valley.

Outdoors: 68째F/58째F Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 71째F/65째F

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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2 Responses to Tree Hugger

  1. Brian says:

    My Dad who if alive would be 103 this year, was the typical VT farmer of the early 20th century. I have always been amazed at the stories he told of his youth. The haying for the most part WAS done all by scythe!He would tell of his dad and brother would spend all bay swinging the stick the next day raking and the third day picking up. When I asked him how they could do all that, his reply was "Just put our mind to it"

  2. Farmerbob1 says:

    Found some more Chinese characters hiding in the temperature section here, Walter.

    As for haying on uneven land, a lot of people simply can’t imagine the stamina and endurance of someone who has to do all of the work on a farm by hand. We prize endurance in runners, bikers, and swimmers in first world countries today, but before mechanized farming became the rule, farming was brutal work.

    I suspect that a great many field-working farmers from the 1800’s and before could have, with a better diet and a little modern training, moved directly off the farm and competed well in today’s endurance sports.

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