Saturday, August 15, 2015

It's Brush Hog Day!

My 2.5 acre rural lot here in Maine is mostly wooded and the front half acre or so is divided between lawn areas and open field where I let the weeds grow.  I maintain the lawn with my solar powered lawnmower.  At this time of year the Goldenrod and other tall weeds are over 4 feet tall so I hire a neighbor with a brush hogger to cut everything back.  This also helps to fight back the tide of saplings encroaching from the woods.  If left uncut the entire property would be overgrown with tall trees within 10 or 15 years.  My neighbors on each side both have much larger lots of 10 acres or so each with open fields.  One neighbor brings in a crew to hay and bale his field while the other just cuts it back as I do.

Opening up the field gives us better access to the burn pile.  This is a pile of tree branches and saplings that I clear throughout the year.  Some neighbors wait until the pile is many times the size of ours and have a big bonfire when the snow is on the ground.  I like to keep my burns smaller and more manageable so I light them two or three times a year in the spring and fall.  
Last year I lit off the burn pile before it was brush hogged, and even though I mow a circle around the burn pile, it made for close quarters while maintaining the fire.  I think I will wait until the weather is cooler before burning this pile, it is way too hot and humid.

I enjoy being outside and actively maintaining my property throughout the year, it is good exercise and keeps me in touch with seasonal changes on the land.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Bumper crop of fruit

The previous owners of my property had planted 4 high bush blueberry bushes, and numerous fruit trees about 20 years ago.  I have carefully pruned and maintained the blueberry bushes and pick as many as 5 or 6 gallons of blueberries a year, this year I have a bumper crop, and the branches are bowed down with berries.  It is hard to keep up and I have invited the neighbors to come and help themselves.
These are large, sweet blueberries and it is hard to resist eating them while picking!  I also had to deploy a small electric fence around them to keep the wild turkeys and deer from devouring them.  There is a flock of a dozen or so chicks with three or four hens that come around almost daily scavenging what they can.

The apple tree had been producing a moderate number of small sweet cooking apples over the last few years, but this year there are literally so many apples on it that the weight has bowed the branches down to the ground and it has collapsed over my firewood pile.
On closer inspection I realized that this largest main branch has actually broken off at the trunk and I will have to cut it off.  I hope it survives long enough to yield fully ripened apples.
Talk about going out with a bang!  Perhaps I should have been more proactive the pruning for this tree but it is impossible to anticipate a bumper crop of apples like this.

I really enjoy the seasonal cycles here in Maine, the growing season so very visible and tangible because is so short here.  Any day now they will start to cut the 50 acre hayfield across the road from our house and that is always an interesting process to watch.