Friday, January 27, 2012

Cedar Clearing

With a nice corridor linking the brush pile to the cedar clearing area, I’m ready to begin cutting cedars. 

At this point in the process, I like to go around and cut everything that can be handled by Big Loppers.  This gets a lot of the eye blocking greenery out of the way and gives you room to work with the saw around the larger cedars.

To help carry the smaller cedars, I use a willowy seven foot cedar as a bundling strap.  I put the strap on the ground and lay a bunch of cut cedars across it.  I then grab the strap on each side of the pile and lift the whole collection up to move to the brush pile.

When I pile the material, the top of the cedar strap is caught between the brush pile and the material being carried.  By taking the butt of the cedar and forcing it in and down through the pile, you can bind the material and affix it snuggly to the side of the pile.  Additional bundles can be stacked up to a height of about four feet.  Trying to go any higher is usually unsuccessful because of the difficulty of holding the bundle together as you lift it for placement.  I like to call this the Jelly Roll method of stacking cedars.  It really works best with cedars in the five foot range.  The cedars shown here are about twice that size.

After I’ve finished with Big Loppers, I use Little Bow to take out the larger trees.  I just start at the corridor and keep working outward until I reach the edge of the work area.

Stumps give a good picture of the density of the cedar stand.  Little Bow does a good job of cutting things close to the ground, so there are no tall stumps left.  It’s really a nuisance to trip over cedar stumps when you walk through the prairie.  I would also like to avoid the pain involved with kneeling down to look at a plant and getting jabbed in the shin by a cedar stump.  By next winter the stumps will have turned gray and will be hardly noticeable.  It may take 15 or 20 years before they decompose and disappear.

I managed to add some bulk to the brush pile before being halted by thawing ground.  The brush pile base is as large as it will get.  A few more hours of clearing will take the height up to its maximum limit.  Weather forecasts are predicting a slightly warmer trend with more rain, so I don’t know when I’ll be seeing frozen ground again.

Dragging cedars across frozen ground gives the vegetation a raked appearance, but there’s no soil compaction and the plants suffer very little damage.  If my activities were continued into the warm afternoon, I would create a muddy, trampled path in the thawed earth.  By the middle of next summer, there won’t be any evidence left of my dragging activities.

Even if I don’t get back to this project this year, I’ve made a clearing large enough to bring in a lot of sunlight.  The prairie vegetation should respond favorably to the new situation. 

No comments:

Post a Comment