On Saturday, we started our first Real Work in the food forest to be: taking down lots of saplings and brush. We don’t like to take down trees and bushes, but we also want to create the space for our intentional plants, ones that are really good at producing food for us or for wildlife, or super providers for the soil in our little micro-ecosystem. It was exciting to get outside and use some muscle power to move a lot of stuff around.
Mark went out with a chainsaw in the morning, in full protection gear with a face mask, mufflers, thick gloves and knee pads (chainsaws are super dangerous). The chainsaw is noisy. WHRRRRRR!! WHRRRRR!! Crack, Swoosh, the sounds of the saw and wood falling. It is also super-smelly, because it runs on gas and pumps out bad climate-harming stuff. But it cuts through a lot of wood very quickly. Meanwhile, I took my hand-tools – my new, sharp clippers, loppers, and tree-saw – pruned two apple trees and took out some of the black rot from the sour cherry tree. Clip, clip, swsh, swsh. Much slower pace – especially because I am such a novice when pruning trees! – but quiet.
The next couple of afternoons, I was putting all of that wood into organized piles. These piles will be the basis for our hugelkultur beds – raised mounds with a core of wood covered with soil and compost that are great for growing in. Mark’s work had left lots of branches and trunks of all different sizes all over the place, some of them full of long, tangled vines of bittersweet that held everything together. When you grabbed an armful of stuff a whole mess of more stuff would want to come along. Still, it all got moved into intentional piles – some with small brush, others with sapling trunks, gnarly trunks, or straight branches – just going at it one armful at a time, taking the clippers or the loppers where needed to cut things into carry-able sizes. Organized piles are really satisfying and have this great aesthetic balance between pattern and random shapes in the selected wood pieces of each pile. Below is a little mound-collage taken at the end of the day with the setting sun (I am in three of the photos, but somewhat hidden – game for silly kids: can you find Babette?)