Wednesday, November 14, 2012

In the woods

This was the tallest tree we tackled.
Sunday we spent some family time in the woods. We were doing a job that I enjoy, that exhausts my husband, and that really annoys the children:  slaying cedar.

Technically, we weren’t slaying cedar (Ashe juniper is its correct name), as they were already slain – laid low by that terrible foe, the drought of 2011. A belt of trees were geographically challenged in their quest for water, and a number of them – Ashe juniper, live oak and yaupon – perished. This left an unsightly mess next to the driveway.

And according to our calendar and much to our dismay, it will get cooler here soon and the firewood supply was perilously low.

And it's down, destined for firewood.
It was time to take action. We donned long pants and boots, and gathered chain saw, fuel, bar oil (or as my husband says, bahr awl), gloves and loppers, and ventured out solve two problems at once.

My boys were enlisted to drag brush frequently when we first bought this land, and it was a battle every time. Now they are out of our clutches, and we have shifted our sights to the little daughter. She has begun exhibiting the same reluctance her older brothers did. On Sunday I heard things like, “I don’t have any shoes” and “Can I make a pie, instead?” No.

Iris the dog is site supervisor.
I set her to using the loppers to break off dead branches and cut small cedars; she prefers this to dragging brush. Dan wielded the chain saw, while I stacked firewood and piled up brush.

In addition to the reward of how the area looks when we are done, we usually find a few surprises or treasures to make the job more enjoyable.

The first thing we saw was a giant pink and cream lantana, escaped into the woods and twining up through a cedar tree. It is far from where I had planted one in my garden. The thing is at least six feet tall!

Green tree frog and daughter's hand against
freshly cut Ashe juniper stump.

A while later, Dan called our daughter over. As he was prepared to take down a dead cedar, he discovered a bright green tree frog on its trunk. My daughter was entranced, of course, and carried the frog back to the house where she constructed a home for it near the new pond - deluxe accommodations that I’m not sure it will appreciate.

(Have I mentioned how much I love having a daughter who is not afraid to pick up a frog or toad?)

Tote that wood, sister.
It was a productive day:  dead trees cleared away, firewood stacked, brush pile created (which may be chipped sometime, but until then will be home to sundry critters), unexpected plant found, frog examined and relocated, fresh air taken in, muscles used, pre-teen ejected from the house, sense of accomplishment felt all around.

The finished-for-today product - more dead trees remain for another day.


  1. looks great! interesting find that lantana. had no idea they grow so tall.

    1. I've never seen one that tall, either. Guess that's what growing in the woods will do to a plant.

  2. "Pre-teen ejected from the house" -- now that IS an accomplishment. Cool frog too.

    1. It was cool - we haven't looked it up yet, but we need to!

  3. Looks like you accomplished quite a bit - and got to see a cool frog, too! You will be so proud to have that firewood soon! What's that saying about firewood? "Warms you twice!"

    1. I don't know that expression, but it sounds about right!