The last few days we've been working on locusts...honey locusts. They are not the insect kind, but a tree that grows in our woods and along the fields. The honey locust is great firewood, burning hot and easy to split. But, the trees are a menace. They have large thorns in them and are somewhat invasive. We have seen trees that are only five feet tall with thorns as huge as four inches long. And, yesterday when Marty split one piece for firewood, there was a thorn growing in the middle of the tree, two inches long...right in the middle! Crazy.
The honey locusts in our woods were spread in 1970's by the cattle and earlier by hogs that were let to walk freely in the woods. They ate the pods of the honey locusts and of course left a trail of seeds wherever they walked. The pods are large, sometimes eight inches or longer and have fairly good size seeds. There haven't been any animals in the woods for over 30 years. But the locusts, once established, will spread themselves very easily. So, in order to keep them from coming up all over and crowding out other trees, we have to do some maintenance.
We ring the larger ones, the "mother" trees by cutting two rings around them. The rings are cut with the chainsaw about two inches apart and a couple of feet up from the base. The cuts are about an inch deep, going thru the cambium layer. This stops the flow of sap to the top of the tree and the tree dies. For harvesting locusts for firewood, this is really helpful as the bark drops off and the upper branches fall out over the period of a year or two. No thorns when cutting firewood! (At least on the outside.)
Then we also went around the fenceline of the south field and cut all the little trees out. They will sometimes come back up from the stumps, so maintenance needs to be done every couple of years to keep them down. We don't like to spray chemicals on the stumps since we are trying to farm organic. It only took us two hours to cut all the little trees around the south field and the weather was sunny and mild. It was a wonderful day for being out and working on a project like that.
|Our Allis D-15 tractor and grandpa's wagon|
|On our way to the woods|
|This honey locust|
is hairy with thorns
|Check out how long these thorns are!|
There is a pile of them on the ground
on the left
|Marty cutting a large|