Wood Season 2021
I enjoy the shift of seasons,
from harvesting food and carpentry to milling and forestry.
One day i will join this fine elder, retired carpenter
and enjoy the watching of others doing it.
In the province of British Columbia we are faced with
a crisis of abundance.
100+ years of, now admitted, colonial forest mismanagement has left our forests with an overgrowth of carbon and fiber.
In this overgrowth and abundance lies two tales,
a tale of catastrophic fire hazard or
a tale of rural sustainability.
In just two acres of forest
we have thinned out the low grade.
Low grade meaning
we take the least desirable of the stand.
Leaving the nicest wood to age into mature timber.
Timber and lumber are no longer the focus.
The focus is water storage capacity,
at the soil horizon level.
Which, in turn,
increases the hydrology and humidity bubble,
at the canopy horizon level.
Timber and lumber are now by-products
of this change in focus.
In this thinning,
we have unlimited fire wood,
great lengths of fence rails and 'X' posts,
with the nicer quality logs
going to log cabin and sauna kits,
150 saw logs on the milling deck!
And we haven't even touched the forest!
We have also not forgotten about the forest,
now able to breath and mature into old growth,
where the large birds, herbivores and predators
of our valley can now return.
All the branches and much of the trees length
were laid in swales on the contour
to biomimic the large dead down.
The large dead down are key to the forest health.
They are the nutrient and moisture batteries
of the standing giant plants
we call trees.
See the image below showing the large dead down
in our search for this years Christmas tree.
how Slash Swales On Contour (SSOC's)
can biomimic the large dead down.
Curved Douglas fir log from thinning fire hazard in woodlot.
Commander/Persuader my cousin turned
from a large Siberian Elm.
Daniel uses it, in this case,
to persuade the dovetail into position.
Freezing nights and the arrival of snow
signals the changing of rural jobs,
which is a welcome changing of responsibilities
from food to forest.
If you look closely you can see a red ribbon
on the large fir tree behind me.
This identifies one of the four corners
of an acre paced out (65 paces/208')
to help us remain focused
and define our work space
in such a densely overgrown forest.
When you first walk in the forest
it's akin to a dark closet
with hardly any light.
I calculate that there is 60% too much carbon (trees)
in the forests of our valley,
and potentially the entire province
that hasn't already burned.
The thinning begins with hours of just cutting into the
scrub maples and birch,
and focusing on trees
6" in diameter and smaller.
After several hours
it is rewarding to be able to look up and see the sky,
and the sun being able to reach
the forest floor.
This allows us to start to look up
and see the tops of the larger trees.
We now look for forked tops
and begin thinning these trees out.
The rule of thumb,
admitted by our government,
in the CWPP,
Community Wildfire Protection Plan,
no more clear-cutting,
no two trees canopy (branches) touching.
It's the touching canopy that creates such devasting
As we become intimate with this part of the forest
we start to notice which trees carry the seed bearing cones.
The squirrels and chipmunks tell us.
The trees that have large piles of cone shavings at their base, tell us which trees are the mother trees.
These trees get a pink ribbon that tell us
it is to not be cut.
Once all the thinning is done,
we can then lay out the swales along the contour
with a builders level
and have a swale building party.
All the community, young and old
come out to carefully lay the remaining longs and brush into long Slash Swales On Contour (SSOC's).
These will biomimic the large dead down
that is sorely lacking in our modern forest practice
and is essential to forest health.
It is these nutrient and moisture batteries
that are the immune system of the forest
especially during the drought days of summer.
As we hike the surrounding forest fire zones
for our Christmas tree,
one notices the abundance of regeneration,
where the fires managed to burn
with less intensity
due to over-carbon density.
Notice the large Ponderosa Pine dead down.
These trees will do well
during the drought times of the year
as there will be adequate moisture
and fungal activity
in the soil horizon
under the lying dead tree.
Another large dead down tree
and a large dead snag.
Two of the most important elements
in a healthy forest.
The snags house countless colonies of insects
at different elevations.
These snags feed countless bird species
which include the largest birds at the top of the snag.
Without the snags throughout the forest watershed
eagles and owls will cease to exist in the watershed.
It's an important part of the Holy day season
to teach our children how they are connected
to their environment.
Each winter, during the Solstice days,
we go looking for a tree that we can bring inside
to illuminate our home during the shortest days.
My Oma and Opa would do the same for us.
On Christmas eve we would all gather
to light the candles on the tree.
The smell of a freshly cut tree is a true gift to bring into the home and to fill the lungs of young and old.
It was my elder Merv Wilkinson,
who received the Royal Oder of Canada
for his work in forestry and his community,
who taught me how to low-grade the forest (take the milk)
so the high-grade (cream) can mature,
express the more complex levels of DNA,
as magnificent old growth.
By taking the low-grade
you eventually low-grade yourself into a high-grade.
If you take only the best,
you eventually high-grade yourself into a low-grade
thus eroding your genetic storehouse of quality.
You are only as strong as your last 3 generations;
Pottengers Cat's at the forestry level.
With a Christmas tree,
we look for a cluster of trees
that compete for the same water and sunlight.
We pick the tree that looks to be in the best position
for both water and sunlight;
growing straight and strong.
We don't cut that one.
We look to the ones that surround this tree,
growing out at angles,
and take one of those.
We make an offering,
give thanks and praises.
It's a welcome few days of rest during the longest nights.
The sawmill is under snow.
-20+ the machines don't like too much.
Sweep the snow off the solar panels.
A few hours of thinning.
Stoke the fire and sit next to the stove and read a book.
May we work and rejoice
For all Creation
For all Relations