A poison-ivy-immune six-man crew from Westchester Tree Life has blazed through the borders of our northeast fields, felling dead trees and eviscerating all those tree-killing vines. I came home from our trip to find views opened between fields, stone walls exposed, groves of healthy trees with room to breathe. Plus, of course, the machines and post-clearing debris, and two pickups and a minivan cruising the pasture ridge at quitting time.
Under the monolithic tangles, the guys uncovered sugar maple, birch, hickory, oak, black cherry, beech, ash, and linden trees. A black cherry that needs to come down will go the shop for milling; for the not-so-usable wood, it’s the Bandit Intimidator chipper. An astonishing amount of metal junk also turned up—not very chainsaw-friendly.
Thomas Woltz and Paul Appleton came by to work on the master plan and survey the tree-and-vine progress. We spread the plans on a tack trunk and Thomas sketched revisions on tracing paper; then we drove the Gator over the hill. Bill Davies from Westchester Tree life wanted to show us a few trees he’d flagged. With the vines and most obvious dead stuff gone, we get our first real look at the healthier trees that will shade our finished pastures.
As you might have noticed, there’s poison ivy everywhere. One option, per Thomas’s advice: weed-wack it down so tree work can proceed; then zap it with an 18-percent glyphosate solution. Glyphosate is Roundup’s “active” ingredient, but unlike the other chemicals in Roudup, its half-life is days, not years. So what’s with Roundup’s other chemicals? When you spray glyphosate, nothing happens right away. No instant weed-annihilating gratification, and you can’t see if you’ve missed a spot. So Roundup added a surfactant to make the plants wilt on the spot. This chemical, POEA, has been shown to be much more toxic than the actual herbicide; plus, it lingers in the soil for decades. We’ll definitely be skipping that. There’s also a more romantic, chemical-free option: renting a herd of goats. Might not be practical here, but it sounds fabulous. We’re not ruling it out yet…
Read the beginning of the story about our farm here.