Thursday, July 21, 2011

More Time Outside

Jüri came last week and we focused on cutting dead and unwanted trees and bushes. A lot of smaller trees have grown up in places that are hard to mow, since what looks like about the time of independence in 1991. A number of older trees have died, especially the spruce that were planted during the Soviet period.

We started with the old barn foundation next to the house. I'd cleared some brush out of here a few years ago but a lot had grown back, and there were many trees I couldn't handle on my own. We left a few ash and elm and any of the elderly cherry trees that looked like they might survive a few years more, as well as the black currant bushes. We're still not sure what we're going to do with this area. At one time we thought about rebuilding it. Currently we're talking about using the stones to build a walkway between the Paia and Ojakalda houses, or maybe keeping sheep in it. Jüri would like to bring in some borrowed sheep to tackle the goatweed.
We also cleared some of the scrubbier trees out of the old garden at Paia in an effort to get a little more light to the berry bushes and apple trees. We saved a few ash, but these may have to go as well as quite a few seem to have developed cancers from growing up into the former fence line.
The final target was the tree line between the old and new river beds. There had been some nice trees planted here, including some spruce that I'm sure someone intended to either thin or use as a hedge. Unfortunately this never happened, and the spruce did poorly in the wet soil. Numerous grey alder have grown up as well, crowding other trees. I'm also told they tend to turn the river water brown due to the fact that they fix nitrogen in the soil.
Jüri went ahead and cut down the dead spruce. Most of the others will probably go later.

He also started thinning the alder. We can only cut so much in a given month, mostly due to our ability to deal with the aftermath.
Like the mother of all brush piles (it got bigger later), as well as the logs that have to be cut up for firewood.
It took Andrew and I about six hours to burn the brush yesterday.
The firewood is actually easier since we can do a little at a time. After three years of burning whatever comes to hand - dead branches, pieces of old buildings, etc. - it seems odd to have a stack of firewood that looks like firewood.
With St. Jacob's day (July 25, which marked the traditional end of hay making) approaching, we went ahead and cut the rest of the tall meadow grass. We're hoping this will help scatter the seed to improve our stand of meadow plants for next year.
We left the Ojakalda flower garden for the moment. I think this is one of the best views on the property. There's a small hill, maybe two meters high, right at the corner where the highway and the gravel road meet, which we think is an old building that collapsed a long time ago. We'll take down the dead spruce in the group on the left this Fall after the potatoes are harvested. The other spruce in the group will probably go as well, though we'll leave the group on the right where the storks nest. In the Spring we'll plant some native species - oak, elm, pine, lime, birch, hawthorn, etc. - to replace some of what we're taking now.
The storks always appreciate any kind of cutting. It lets them find frogs and voles more easily, and generates more material for the nest. I think this is the male of the pair, who spends a lot of time picking up twigs and grass and such. The bigger the nest the more prestige the male that owns it has, which improves his ability to attract a female.



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