It was a storm of uncommon depth for our space. A mid-December thunderstorm in northern Wisconsin—not one thing you see yearly, and even each decade. Possibly it was triggered by a bizarrely heat 50-degree day that prompted roughly 1 foot of snow to soften in lower than 24 hours.
In any case, the storm struck swiftly, with highly effective winds sweeping from south to north—uncommon in a area the place prevailing winds blow from west to east. The sheer power of the wind, coming from such an sudden path, did a quantity on the native conifer inhabitants.
We’re grateful our farm escaped with buildings and livestock undamaged. However the tree cleanup goes to take some effort and time!
It’s at the moment mid-January, deep within the coronary heart of winter. Spring thaw is not less than two months away, perhaps three. There’s lots of snow on the bottom, however not sufficient to cover the handfuls of fallen timber scattered throughout the farm, their crowns uniformly pointing north as if to scold the storm and say, “It went that manner!”
However there’s a silver lining to each cloud. And we intend to place the fallen timber to good use.
Many are Crimson Pines knocked out of windbreak rows. Their trunks are straight and true, so we’ll haul them to our sawmill and switch them into lumber for raised backyard beds and different farm initiatives.
The important thing will probably be tackling the cleanup as quickly as potential. Time is of the essence. Lots of the timber have fallen in grassy areas the place spring vegetation will shortly develop by way of and across the crowns, making it troublesome to wash up.
Even a single tree produces lots of particles. Cleansing up a pair dozen—whereas juggling the numerous different spring farming duties in want of consideration—would require cautious planning and time administration.
Luckily, there’s no higher time to assemble a sport plan than the lifeless of winter. And the 2 or three months remaining till thaw is perhaps simply what I must get a head begin on the challenge.
Right here’s how I’m pondering of approaching the job:
1. Trim branches off the crowns throughout winter
Earlier than the dear trunks could be sawed up and hauled to the sawmill (the job of a tractor with a forklift attachment), they should be stripped of their branches. This can be a job that may be largely completed throughout winter.
Even when I’m not hauling away the branches (the snow is just too deep for this to be sensible), each department I minimize within the winter is one I received’t have to chop within the spring, once I can concentrate on cleanup as a substitute of slicing.
2. Restore my trusty crimson wagon
A key ingredient to my cleanup plans is my trusty crimson wagon, which I exploit to haul logs, stumps, branches and particles wherever they’re wanted.
However one among its wood sides suffered injury late final 12 months. I’ll must get it repaired earlier than subjecting it to full masses within the spring. That is one other challenge I can handle through the winter. The crimson wagon will probably be able to go as quickly because the snow melts!
3. Plan for coping with the quantity of fabric
A pair dozen fallen timber generate a rare quantity of fabric. The trunks, after all, will head to the sawmill. However what concerning the branches?
Usually, I might add them to a brush pile in a distant location on the farm. However the sheer quantity of fabric I’ll be coping with this spring dangers making this an impractical resolution.
I can’t think about what number of wagonloads that may require. And the dimensions of the ensuing brush pile can be staggering.
As an alternative, I’m pondering of investing in a heavy-duty wooden chipper, which I can carry to the location of every fallen tree. As soon as there, I’ll use the wooden chipper to cut back the dimensions of the particles and concurrently flip it right into a helpful product—wooden chips, good for mulching!
4. Head for the excessive floor in spring
Our farm sits on slow-draining clay soil. The lowlands have a tendency to assemble water and switch to mud within the spring.
To keep away from rutting up the bottom (or sinking a wagon filled with timber into the mud—been there, carried out that), I’ll concentrate on cleansing up high-ground areas very first thing within the spring. As totally different areas of the farm dry out one after the other, I’ll shift my focus accordingly. And I’ll depart the bottom and wettest areas for final.
5. Usher in professionals for the largest jobs
Even with cautious preplanning, I do know I’m not outfitted to cope with the most important timber. One Norway Spruce measures 90 ft lengthy. It got here down on high of a number of smaller conifers, making fairly a large number.
Different timber are solely half toppled, hung up dangerously within the crowns of close by companions. Somewhat than wrestle to deal with probably the most difficult jobs myself, I’m tempted to name in professionals. They may put their expertise and specialised tools to good use whereas I deal with the extra manageable messes.
Cleansing up after such an enormous storm received’t be straightforward. However with just a few months to put together my plans and instruments, I’ll be prepared!