Sunday, September 16, 2018

Making LUMBER!

Here's our first attempt at making lumber.  It's from a cedar log that was given to us by my very good lifetime friend Tom.  It's not actually a tree from our property.  It was a really nice thing for Tom to do and we've loved learning about milling lumber on his logs.

So, how do you like my wife's pink filter mask?

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Setting up The Martha Fay

We started trying to setup the sawmill.  Turns out I'm missing some of the connector parts, so I'm only able to connect two of the three beds.  I'm still not sure I've got it leveled correctly.  It's going to take a bit of effort to get this thing setup correctly.  But, it's very exciting!

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Shower Facilities

Working in the forest is hot, sweaty, dirty work.  Chainsaws and wood chippers will do that to you.  After a hot day working in the forest a nice shower is greatly appreciated. So, the wife and I took some time away from working in the forest to build an outdoor show.  The shower is near the outhouse, so I guess you could say we now have a full bath!  Here's a few pics of us building the shower.  It's been greatly appreciated.

The shower is only screened on one side.  You get to enjoy nature while getting clean.

We don't have running water or septic.  All of our water is hauled in five gallon buckets.  We fill a 20 gallon trash can (look in the lower right of the photo) and then keep a couple of five gallon buckets for reserve.  If the trash can runs out of water mid shower, we use the reserve to finish up.  It's happened.

A sump pump moves the water from the trash can through a propane water heater which feeds the shower head.  There's a switch on the center log, next to the shower curtain that will turn the sump pump on and off.  So far, it's been really nice taking a nice cool shower after a hard day's work in this mid-summer Texas heat.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Setting the Billy Goat loose

Yep, that's my wife, mowing the easement road with Billy.  See a goat really will help keep the vegetation down.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

The Martha Fay

Look what we went and did.  Say hello to our new saw mill.  Named for my mother.  We found this on Craig's List.  The goal is to be able to add value to our timber.  We plan on milling up slabs and custom lumber from our trees.
"The Martha Fay".

Friday, June 22, 2018

Forested Grassland

Im on an email list for the Texas Longleaf Taskforce.  Their website is  There's also a link under the "Our Partners and Sites" section of the sidebar. Well, a couple of days ago I got and email from Kent, the Coordinator.  In the email he talks about what East Texas used to be like when the early settlers arrived.  Here's what he had to say.

Much of our east Texas forests were described by the early settlers (some of your ancestors) as "forested grasslands"....You could ride your horse through it with the grass up to the stirrups. Consider that the historic fire regime favored the herbaceous under story and kept down the invasive woody underbrush. That fire sustained a diverse ground cover of grasses and flowering herbs. That "lost" open condition that favored abundant wildlife such as quail, can be seen in many of the historic 1890-1920 photographs. Lots of that historic, diverse under story was visible 100 years ago.......frequent fire is the reason you do not see yaupon thickets in those old photos!
Kent Evans

Someday, Turkey Creek Timber will be a "forested grassland", someday.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

We got a Billy Goat

So, I've been thinking I'd like to get a walk behind brush mower.  It's kind of like a miniature brush hog.  I've been looking on Craig's List.  I'd set a budget for a used one, but was having trouble finding something within my budget.  We'll, I went into our local Home Depot to purchase some deck boards for our outdoor shower and low and behold, they are selling a walk behind brush mower by Billy Goat.  Their price was more than than my budget, so I asked if they could lower it some more.  Yep, they did and we were able to get it for $300 less than budget.  Sweet!  That of course, this lead to us to also purchase a small trailer.   You gotta be able to haul the billy goat around!

Monday, May 28, 2018

More clearing, the WAR against Yaupon Holly

This weekend, we changed tactics. While I firmly believe that pulling out the Yaupon by the roots is the best way to control the Yaupon, it is just taking us way too long.  We've changed our strategy.  Now we are going to cut it off at ground level and fight it with mowing, burning and herbicides when it returns.  Here's a couple of before and after pics of some areas we recently worked on.

This view is 180 degrees from the previous two pics, basically turning around and looking the other direction.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Controlling Yaupon with Herbicides

Herbicide; it's a bad word out in the world. It is generally frowned upon to use herbicides in gardening or farming by the general public. But . . . when you are trying your best to get control of an out of control situation, sometimes, herbicides are the answer.

Brenda and I have not used herbicides, yet on or tree farm, but we are giving it some serious consideration.  We don't want to make it a part of our long term management of the forest, but we believe it has it's place in the short term to help us get our Yaupon under control.

In my search for answers, I came across a May of 2004 Master of Science Thesis titled "Managing Invasive Yaupon Holly in the Texas Post Oak Savannah" by Stephanie Dupree.  Here's a link to her thesis.  It's a PDF download.;sequence=1

Who knows, soon you may see us fighting the fight with a pack pack sprayer. Triclopyr might be the answer.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Native Invasive - Yaupon Holly

Because of inattention and the interruption of the fire cycle, the understory of our woods have become overgrown with brush; mostly Yaupon Holly. It is so thick it is classified as a "native" invasive species.  Yaupon Holly is native to East Texas, but at this level, it's acting just like an exotic invasive.

Yaupon Holly is a shade tolerant plant. It can thrive in shade or sun.  Pine trees on the other hand are shade intolerant. They need lots of sun to reproduce.  The shading of our forest floor from the overgrowth of Yaupon Holly has interrupted our pine trees reproductive cycle.  It has also shaded out the natural grasses and forbs that increase the nutrition of the soil.

The Yaupon Holly has got to go.

Brenda and I have been working most weekends on eradicating the Yaupon. I love the definition of eradicating; "To tear up by the roots."  That's what we've been doing. Pulling the Yaupon up by the roots. Here's a picture of some of the Yaupon roots we've pulled up.  This is just one pile.

Pulling is hard and slow work, but it's the best way we can think of right now. Cutting would be easier and quicker, but the Yaupon would come back and it would come back quickly.  So, pulling it up by the roots is what we do.

 Brenda and I have been working in what we call the "cabin site" for most of 2018. As you can see, we've opened up quite a bit of space.  There's a lot more cleared off to the left of this picture. In the background you can see the wall of Yaupon that still needs to be removed.

Below is a picture of where we've started to cut our new wood's road that I talked about in a previous post.

I wish we didn't have to cut a new road, but we do, so that's what we do.  We work a little bit in each area; a day working the cabin site; the next day working the new road. Slowly, but surely it's getting done.

One of the things you'll notice in the picture to the right is that there are no pine tree seedlings. None.  Below is a picture of what happens when you open up a space and let the light in. Lots and lots of pine tree regeneration.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

A week in the woods

Thankfully, the weather cleared up and it was a beautiful week for working in our woods.  Brenda and I spent Monday (3/12) to Friday (3/16) at Turkey Creek Timber. We got a lot done, but there is a whole lot that we still need to do.

We've decided to abandon our worst wood's road. It's that main road that takes us across Turkey Creek and to the "other side".  Unfortunately, the erosion is just too extensive.  It will take a huge amount of work to "fix" the trail and quite a bit of money.

 We've decided to cut a new road that is parallel to the abandoned road. We will pile up the slash from the new road onto the abandoned road to help stop and hopefully reverse the erosion.

You can see from the image to the left that some brush that was left on the road a while back has help to catch and retain dirt that eroded from a water bar that I built. We're hoping to help that process.

We put logs into the deep erosion cuts and piled up branches on top. We also chipped up a lot of the branches and the wood chips were added on top of the logs.

What we want to happen is for the piled up branches to catch the leaves  and to help create a dam that will slow up and even pond the runoff water. This will help let the eroded soil from further up the trail to settle out and fill in the deep cuts that have formed in the road.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Grand Kids visit

One of the many blessings of owning forest land is getting to share it, especially with your grand kids.  These are my daughter's grand kids Isaiah and Cara.  A couple of sweet bundles of love.  This is Cara's first time to our forest.