Wednesday, October 26, 2016


Normal.  The alarm goes off.  You grope in the darkness to turn it off.  Another day in another year.  Feel your way to the bathroom.  Wash that face.  Brush the teeth.  Put on your uniform.  Pack some food. Kiss your spouse.  Out the door in under 20 minutes.  You smile.  Yeah, today you're going to beat that traffic snarl.  It's life, when you're "normal".

What if, you could change normal to astounding.  Would it become your "normal" one day?  Imagine waking up in darkness and turning to look up at the moon.  You smile, and snuggle further into your comforter dreaming about what adventure you will have today.  When nature calls, you put on your slippers and headlamp.  Into the woods you go to relieve yourself.  Everything is black and silent, except the window of light coming from your beam.

Today, you'll work at returning the forest to the state it used to be hundreds of years ago - a piney woods savannah.  As you work, you encounter a variety of plant and insect life and you ponder - is this native to the forest or is it invasive?  Is this edible?  Is this harmless? Medicinal? Poisonous?  The colors and smells surprise you.  The experience leaves you richer, more satisfied.

You ask yourself, will this one day become my normal. this life full of unexpected wonders? 


Saturday, October 22, 2016

Tree Felling

What an absolutely beautiful weekend here at Turkey Creek. High temperatures in the low 70's and lows in the low 50's. Don't need the A/C and only a touch of heat in the evening. They sky is blue, the air is cool, dry, crisp and there is a nice gentle breeze. It's perfect for working outdoors. I don't want it to end!

We did more clearing, we felled a large dead tree that posed a hazard and we got all of the pulled up underbrush chipped and spread on the forest floor. It has been a very productive time.

The hazard tree was about 24" diameter breast high (DBH).  We had a lot of brush to clear out and little snags on the ground.  When you are cutting down a tree one of the first things you need to do is clear the area around the tree, so you have a safe working environment.

The area might of been clear, but this was the first large tree I've ever felled. I was a bit nervous. I've watched several hours of instruction on how to fell a tree.  I would have been nice to have a mentor, but I didn't. There's nothing like experience as a teacher. My plans were to fell in on Sunday. I couldn't wait, so it came down this afternoon.

Here's a little preview video I did before I felled the tree. You can see the two pine trees that I'm trying to lay the dead tree between.  They are to the right side of the picture. There's a small oak between the two pines.  The electric meter lines up between the two pines and dead-on with the small oak.

I'll try to post a video of the felling on Monday.  Stay tuned, it's going to get destructive.  Timber!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Pulling Up Underbrush Trees

BG-08 Brush Grubber
BG-08 Brush Grubber
In January 2015, just after I purchased our tractor, I purchased a BG-08 Brush Grubber from Amazon.  Here’s a link: BG-08.  I paid about $80 back in 2015, today it is selling for $68. 

The purpose of the grubber is to pull up small trees.  We decided to pull up as much of the underbrush as we could. The most prolific problem tree is the Yaupon Holly. Yaupon Holly spreads by sending out shoots from its roots and it will regrow from the stump, so we want to get rid of the roots.  Therefore, we pull the tree up, roots and all.  My little Kubota tractor and the tree grubber do a great job.

I thought I’d show you a little video of me pulling up a small 4” diameter tree.  While not a Yaupon, this tree had to go, because it is in the way of a large dead oak that needs to come down.  The dead oak will be overhanging our outhouse.  I’d hate for it to come down and destroy our outhouse and who ever might be in it.  You can see the trunk of the oak tree to the right and behind the tree I’m pulling up.

Normally, I would leave the dead tree. They make a great resource for wildlife. We have seen the endangered Red-cockaded Wood Pecker getting an evening meal from this old tree.  For safety reasons, the tree must go.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Our new "toy" - WoodMaxx TM-86H Wood Chipper

WoodMaxx TM-86H Wood Chipper Load and ready for transport.
Pickup from seller
We are so very happy. We have a wood chipper. I purchased a used WoodMaxx TM-86H from It was a really smooth transaction, I saved a lot of money over buying new and I got the wood chipper right away! rules.

Now we don't have to burn the brush that we remove from the forest. I didn't like the risk of burning a large brush pile and I didn't like the loss of compost material for the forest. Now, we will chip up the brush instead of burning. We'll use some of the wood chips around our buildings, some we'll use for compost and the rest will be spread out in the forest to decompose. It's much better than burning.
Unloading the WoodMaxx TM-86H wood chipper

I had to rent a trailer from Aztec Rental Centers to move the wood chipper from Conroe, TX to our place just north of Woodville, TX. The trailer I normally use was in the shop being repaired.

As you can see from the picture, if I'd have shortened the chain, I might have been able to lift the wood chipper all of the way off of the trailer. Instead I raised it and then drove the trailer out from under the chipper.

Results of chipping with the WoodMaxx TM-86H Wood Chipper
First pile of wood chips
I had a small pile of brush that had been sitting for a couple of months that I tried the chipper out with. It worked pretty well. I'd have to help out occasionally, but the wood chipper pretty much pulled in everything I fed it.

It should work better once I reverse the cutting blades. The original owner never reversed or sharpened the blades. Before I can reverse the blades I need to purchase some tools. I intend to create a small tool box with just the tools I need for the wood chipper. It will be nice to just grab that box instead of searching through my tool box.

Here's to happy chipping.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Our Forest Vision

Turkey Creek Timber, that’s what I call my land.  It’s Turkey Creek, because Turkey Creek runs pretty much right down the middle of the property.  It’s Timber, because I hope to be able to harvest some timber from time to time. 

One day, my wife and I may move here.

I love my land and I want to take care of it.  I want to see it healed and returned to a more “natural” state.  I want to return our land to the “pine tree savanna” that used to be here a hundred years ago. 

A pine tree savanna is a place where wildlife and diversity of plant life will thrive.  It is the type of habitat that turkey, quail and deer love. Wouldn’t it be lovely to take a walk in my woods and have quail fly up as we approach; to see a flock of turkey in the distance and maybe even see deer?  I don’t want it to be a rare chance encounter, but a daily expectation.  I want my woods to be so wildlife friendly, that we have wildlife encounters almost every time we go exploring and walking in the woods.

Here’s a picture of what it currently looks like and another picture of what it “should” look like. 

The reason the land is so overgrown, is that there hasn’t been fire on the land in over 50 years.  In a more natural state, this land would have burned every three to five years. 

Pine trees are remarkable in their ability to thrive in a fire environment, but only if it is a fire that burns low to the ground.  If the fire gets up into the canopy then it will kill the tree.  Unfortunately, because of 50+ years of fire suppression, the understory, i.e. yaupon, of my forest has grown so thick and tall that in a fire, it would act as a “ladder” and carry the fire up into the canopy.  My forest would die. 

So the challenge for Brenda and I is to reduce the yaupon understory in our forest.  We do that with our tractor.  I have an implement called a grubber.  It’s a device that grabs onto the trunk of a tree and bites harder and harder into the trunk as I pull on the grubber with the tractor.  We pull the understory out of the ground, roots and all.  It’s a lot of work, but it seems to be the best way to permanently reduce the understory.  I can’t wait to see how awesome this place will look once we get the understory under control.

By managing my forest this way, I hope to one day be able to reintroduce fire back into the ecology.  Lord knows I don’t want to keep pulling up yaupon for the rest of my life!