Friday, February 17, 2012

Fence Row Work Continues

The section of old fence row that I’ve been clearing measures approximately a quarter mile in length and with varying widths, has an area of roughly three quarters of an acre.  Recurring rain and snow storms have made it difficult to maintain a continuing effort on this clearing project.  It seems that by the time the ground dries up from one precipitation event, I only have a couple of hours to work before the next event occurs.  Despite the interruptions, I’ve managed to work my way into the heart of the fence row.

I’ve tackled several large Autumn Olive shrubs that have been out of reach for many years.  The branches cover quite an area when they are all laid out awaiting their trip to the brush pile.  After seeing all of the branches, it’s easy to understand why the fence row was so difficult to see through. 

The super sized Autumn Olive that once stood atop this stump took up quite an area.  With it gone, you can see down into the woods below and on across to the far field near the road.

Other areas are more a tangle of medium sized Multiflora Rose.  This situation calls for a mixture of hand cutting and mowing.

With all of the non-native material removed, the fence row is quite open.  The next job here will be the evaluation of the native species that have been left and the determination of which individuals will be left in place and which must be removed.  The ultimate in this fence row clearing is to make corridors that join this field with the two in the distance, so that there can be some interaction between the prairie ecosystems occurring in each area.  That doesn’t mean the complete removal of what’s left in the fence row.  It just means a few well positions gaps and some thinning.

No matter how nice a February day is, you know that as evening comes, the temperature is going to take a sharp drop.  The worst thing that can happen is to find yourself soaked with sweat when those temperatures begin to fall.  A clue that I’m out working is a trail of clothing hung on branch stubs along my route.  No matter how warm you get while working, it’s really nice to have something dry to put on when the sunlight and warmth disappear.

I used blue flags to mark the boundaries of the fence wire laying on the ground, so I could work in close with JR without catching the wire on the blade.  In some places the fence slumped down on top of itself and the horizontal wires are in a narrow band.  In other places, the fence fell over sideways so the wire is occupying an area four feet wide.  Some of the wire is buried, some attached to trees and some is entangled by growing trees and shrubs. To go in and start removing all of the downed wire is a project for another time.

Much of the time I spend working on a project is not actually spent on activities that result in progress toward the completion of that project.  I spend a lot of my time just looking at things I find within the work area.  I’ll study what I’ve done and what still needs to be accomplished.  I’ll study the plants, animals and ground features that I see, plus anything else I find of interest.  I was happy to find this spent Cecropia Moth cocoon.  It’s been several years since I’ve seen an adult Cecropia on the property, so it’s nice to see that they are still around.  The exit hole from the inner chamber is typical of a successfully emerged adult moth.

It’ll be a lot of fun this summer to watch the native plants reclaim this old fence row area.  The summer view from this point on the field trail has just been the fence row.  There were never any breaks that afforded a view of what lay beyond.  It’ll be interesting to see what type of view develops when the trees put on leaves.


  1. I realize that it needs to be done, I hate fences but love old fence rows. The abundance of wildlife that take advantage of the cover to thrive.

  2. Hi Grampy. Removal of the non-native invasive shrubs will make this fence row an even better habitat for wildlife.