Winter-like weather has commenced this week as it did early last November, as I recall.
The overnight temperatures at my house have finally started dipping into the low 20s and even teens, by the time you read this. The North Country has had some significant snow and most of the leaves are down, as the landscape assumes its bleak, brown, winter hue. I burned close to half a face cord of wood in just about one week and it looks like I will burn that much again this week.
My firewood supply seems to be assured indefinitely, though, as the emerald ash borer continues to kill almost every mature ash tree on my property. Ash is pretty good firewood in general, even if it is not completely seasoned.
Of all the hardwood tree species in our forest, white ash has the lowest moisture content, at about 45% water, fresh weight. Burning green wood of any species makes a smoky fire and smoky fires mean that creosote is accumulating in your stove pipe and chimney. Make sure your chimney is clean before you start burning really hot fires. I have written about the hazards of breathing wood smoke before but I should also mention that woodstoves cause more than 4,000 house fires each year and all of them are preventable.
It is almost like Mother Nature is telling me it is time to return to Florida for the winter. I love fall in the Catskills and there is no place on earth that I would rather be during October and early November. I do not understand how some other “snowbirds” head south from here in early to mid-October. Up until a week or so ago, I really had no desire to leave this beautiful place. Once the leaves have fallen and there is ice on my windshield each morning, my attitude changes drastically. My oldest grandchild, Will, turns 13 years old on Nov. 16 and that date works out to be the perfect time to return to his home state of Florida.
The title of this week’s column is not an exclamation of surprise. It is an acronym for “Women Owning Woodlands.” When most people think about forest ownership or forest management, or anything related to forestry at all, actually, it is assumed that only men are interested or responsible. The truth is that women own, co-own or manage significant acres of forested land in New York state. In New York, “family” owned forests comprise more than 10 million acres. It’s about time that we recognize the importance of women in managing and utilizing this wonderful resource.
Over the past 40 years I have conducted many classes and seminars on topics related to agroforestry, as well as classes devoted to more traditional forest-related subjects such as timber management, improving wildlife habitat, hunting and logging. At the agroforestry- themed classes there has always been a good turnout of women as well as men, particularly the ginseng classes. It is a myth that women cannot do the same work in the woods as men do. The company I helped found about seven years ago, American Ginseng Pharm, employs as many or even more women than men to do the necessary woods work. These women operate the chain saws to fell the trees, stack the wood, clear the brush, use and maintain the other power equipment as needed. They also are responsible for almost all of the management decisions.
I am pleased to announce an upcoming workshop, sponsored by the Agroforestry Resource Center in Acra, in Greene County, that is specifically aimed at Women Owning Woodlands (WOW). It will be held noon-5 p.m. Nov. 15 at the ARC. To register, call the ARC at 518-622-9820.
This is a great opportunity to meet collaborators, grow your knowledge, practice hands-on stewardship activities, meet natural resources professionals and discuss your woodland questions/concerns/passions with fellow women landowners. This gathering will feature a tour and discussion of an ongoing forest inventorying project with a private consulting forester, practice with fall invasive species ID and removal/control methods, practice seeding wild ginseng, and time for conversation with peers and pros over a shared potluck meal. All attendees will receive a free packet of stratified ginseng seed that they can take home to plant on their own property.
Reach Bob Beyfuss at firstname.lastname@example.org.