Archive for the 'Fallen Timbers' Category

Already fallen

Monday, December 1st, 2008

In a way, this is a companion post to the one I made last Saturday about a tree ready to fall at Roundrock.

What you see above is a tree that has fallen at our other bit of forest, lovingly known as Fallen Timbers. As you can tell from some of the scrub in the foreground, the tree has been down for a few years.

The southwest corner of our forty acres at Fallen Timbers is on the ridgetop we share with several other neighbors. Although it is hard to discern here, there is an old road that ran along the ridgetop, through what would become our property and on to even more remote spots. A new road was cut into the large tract when the “original” owner decided to chop it up and sell off pieces of it to city folk. The new road makes the passage back to those even more remote spots less difficult, but also less direct. Long after the new road was made, we could tell that people were continuing to use the old ridge road that cut across the corner of our property.

Now, that’s not a great hardship for us. I don’t really mind something as benign as a truck passing through a couple of times a day. But way back in the distant past, our woods was apparently a trash dump. In the first years when we visited our woods there, we would carry out a couple of bags of trash each time. (And this was in the days before I had my first truck and we had to walk the two miles in and out of our forest.) We even found a broken garage door among the debris. That can’t have been easy to haul all that way, so I think that suggests the spot was desirable for dumping trash that couldn’t go elsewhere.

And that brings us back to the fallen tree you see above. When it first fell, I was ambitious to cut it into pieces so the old road would be cleared, but somehow my natural sloth prevented my flighty ambition from holding sway.

Not by design but certainly by default, the fallen tree has ended that occasional traffic along the old ridge road, at least along our part of it. And with that, I hope, the thought of going all the way back there into the woods to dump trash has come to an end. The part of the road (on our land) that is blocked is not very long; it’s hardly something we would have the need to drive on to get anywhere. So the fallen tree remains.

(The red thing you see in the background is Prolechariot.)

Missouri calendar:

  • River otters begin breeding now through early April.
  • Great horned owls couring; listen for “Hoo, hoo-oo, hoo-oo.”

Today in Missouri history:

  • William Carr Lane was born on this date in 1789. He was the first mayor of St. Louis, serving for five terms and then nine years after re-elected for two more. He was a progressive leader, paving roads, creating free schools, and supporting a city hospital and clean water. He was later appointed governor of the New Mexico territory.

Just an old can in the woods

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

This is a picture of an old can sitting on an old stump (in case you couldn’t figure it out). This photo is from the same washed out series of photos I took when Libby and I had gone down to Fallen Timbers a month ago. I boosted the contrast a bit, but the photo still lacks the crispness the camera seems to give when the battery has a full charge. I’m assured that battery life is not the issue though.

Each winter we find a weekend when we can hike the perimeter of our woods. We do this just to have a look for ourselves at the property lines. Our fear is that at the far-flung corners of our woods our neighbors may be up to no good, so it is important to have a look. We do this in the winter since the leaves on the trees and shrubs are gone so the passage is easier and the line of sight is more open.

When we were last at Fallen Timbers (that other little bit of forest on the edge of the Missouri Ozarks we have), we didn’t hike the full perimeter, but we did manage to wander to the farthest point — our northern fence line.

An old forest road runs along our northern fence line. The neighbor must use is occasionally since it stays open through the seasons. Because of this road, I’m guessing most of my interloper incursions come from the north. It was near here some years ago that we found a well-used hunting station. (I left a note there just before deer season one year, simply reminding the interloper that he was on private land without permission, and the station seems to have been abandoned ever since.) We also find some trash in the woods along this fence. Occasionally we find a fresh beer can, but most of the trash seems to be pretty old. That we keep finding trash is likely a factor of the varying paths we take in this part of the forest and the relative leaf litter on the ground.

The can you see above is a bit of that old trash. I happened to be carrying my metal detector that day — having swept the burial mounds without a peep from the detector — and saw the can on the far side of a tree. So I turned on the metal detector and set off a series of dings and peeps, which amazed Libby, until I picked up the can and showed her my find.

Fallen Timbers is only forty acres in a square. The relative distance from our northern boundary to where we park the TOYOTA is not that great, but the terrain and the scrub is. Some day maybe we’ll carry a trash bag to this part of our woods and collect all of the old trash, but getting it back to the truck without having the bag shredded will be a challenge.

Over at Roundrock I’ve put a round rock atop a stump, and every time I visit the spot, the rock has been knocked off. I wonder now, if an old can on an old stump will offend the equilibrium gods in the forest of Fallen Timbers in the same way.

Missouri calendar:

  • Collect pecans as they drop from trees.

Today in Missouri history:

  • Tom Horn, a Missourian, legendary scout, Pinkerton agent, military man, and general rabble rouser, was hanged for murder on this date in 1903.

Green frond

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

green leaf.JPG

There’s so much to see in the forest that I’m never sure if I haven’t already seen some things or if I’m seeing them for the first time.

Take the plant in the photo above. It grows at Fallen Timbers. When the rest of the forest was giving up its green, this low plant was still a vibrant, deep green, and perhaps it still is.

I don’t know what kind of plant this in. Is it a fern? Is it something else? Have I seen it before? I don’t know the answer to any of these question.

I like the fact that there are still plenty of new things to discover (or rediscover) in forests I have stomped over for years and years. I’d like to revisit this plant in a month or so (after the cold of winter has settled in) but I only have the vaguest sense of where it is growing at Fallen Timbers. I suppose I could devote a day to scouring the north-facing slope there and see if I can find it.

I can’t think of a better way to spend a day.

Missouri calendar:

  • The Missouri Natural Events Calendar is mute again today.

Fern Valley

Friday, November 9th, 2007

fern valley.JPG

This enchanting scene is from the north-facing slope of the woods at Fallen Timbers. We stumbled down this slope, but the area where the ferns grow the best is too steep for crossing. This is just above the creekbed, and I don’t think this bit of ground ever gets direct sunlight.

The ferns grow much more thickly at Fallen Timbers than they do at Roundrock (though I think we have more varieties of ferns at Roundrock). I suppose it has to do with soil and sunlight and water and propitiating the correct woodland deities. The grow best at the bottom of the slope, closest to the creek, but you can find them in just about any guarded place on the north-facing slope.

Happy Birthday, Little Bit!

Missouri calendar:

  • The Missouri Natural Events Calendar is blank for today.

Local Color

Wednesday, November 1st, 2006

dogwood leaves.JPGgreen oak leaves.JPGsumac leaves.JPG

yellow hickory leaves.JPGsumac berries.JPGred oak leaves.JPG

white oak leaves.JPGaromatic sumac.JPGoak leaves.JPG

When we were in the woods last weekend we managed to time our arrival with the peak color for our part of Missouri. The oak and hickory forests in our part of the world tend toward browns and yellows when they change, but for a few moments, we get some reds and even some playful oranges.

All of these images are from our woods called Fallen Timbers. It is the more colorful of our two bits of forest. I’m not sure why that is, though we do have loads of dogwood, sumac, and sassfrass there that we don’t have at Roundrock.

So welcome to a little fall color from your good friends in Missouri.

Missouri calendar:

  • Put up bird-feeding stations.
  • Pecans begin to ripen.


Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

oak color.JPG

Fine weather and another trip to the woods. The forecast called for temps in the 70s, which is delightful for late October in Missouri, and we even considered taking along our swimming gear (though if we hadn’t and we chose to swim, other “arrangements” could have been made). I had watched the weather maps all of last week, and on Thursday a large storm cell had spent much of the day lingering over our county, so we had hopes of seeing more water in our lake.

But first, we diverted to Fallen Timbers, that other bit of Ozark woods we have about an hour away from Roundrock. We don’t get over there as much now that we’ve found we can spend all of our money at Roundrock instead, so I was glad to take the opportunity to visit.

I may have reported that my Good Neighbor Max continues to keep our ridgetop nicely mowed for us. So it was when we visited on Sunday; he’s straightened up the place for winter. Such a fine neighbor! I need to send him a note of thanks. We made a hike to a remote corner of our woods here on a specific errand that I’ll post about soon, but the trek there and back was an adventure enuf. The trip out from the ridgetop was downhill. Perhaps a decade ago — before we had purchased this land — a prior owner had harvested much of the timber. In the time since, the scrub has taken advantage of all of the sunlight reaching the forest floor and has sprouted a healthy, thick stand. We had to fight and chop our way through it just to go downhill.

There was plenty of color in the woods. The leaves were mostly reds and yellows and oranges, though there was still a little green left in the forest. In another week or so, it will all be a dull brown, so I’m glad we made it to the woods on the right weekend. Attending to our chore in the corner, we then made the hike back up the hill to the ridgetop, pushing and clawing and cutting for every foot of gain. Libby had the notion that she was cutting us a permanent path into our forest, but I think the scrub has other ideas. She was able to liberate a dozen or so cedar trees (they’re actually junipers) from their earthly toil. (So far, Fallen Timbers is remarkably cedar free, so we’re trying to give the hardwoods as much chance as we can.)

Then it was time to get back in the truck and drive the hour or so over to Roundrock. The drive was gorgeous. While the Ozarks can’t boast the brilliant reds of a New England Autumn, I think our oaks and hickories can do a fine job with their oranges and yellows. Much of our way was through a Corps of Engineers impoundment area, so the roads were well manicured, and many vistas showed rolling hillsides of color.

As I said, we were hopeful that the rains of the week had made a noticeable difference at Roundrock, and the puddles in the entrance road were hopeful signs. But enuf of that. On to the lake.

When we arrived there we could see that the water level in Lake Marguerite was up. It had risen two or three inches since our last visit! (That exclamation point is utter sarcasm by the way.) So much for a storm cell lingering over my woods for a day. I suppose the ground soaked up the water, which is good, of course. And maybe that means that the rains that are supposed to come later this week will not sink into the ground but slide across it and collect in my pathetic lakebed.

As we walked down the road to the dam, we could see scores of insects flying about in the sunlight. Soon they were landing on us. They were ladybugs, and there were dozens on each of us. We could brush them off our clothes easily enuf, but when they started flying into our eyes and trying to crawl in our ears, the novelty of the moment disappeared. And these little things must have been hungry for they were biting wherever they reached our skin. Back to the trees we were free of these little beasties, but when we later crossed the dam, they remembered us.

Our day was mostly aimless at Roundrock. After our detour to Fallen Timbers we arrived at Roundrock at lunch time, and since we planned to do a lot of vigorous work clearing scrub off the dam, we figured we needed to get our nourishment. This meant sitting in the comfy chairs under the shady tarp overlooking the empty lake. And once we are seated, it’s hard to get motivated about anything. Lunch was PBJs*, and I washed down each dry bite with a great gulp of iced tea (unsweetened, of course).

Eventually, somehow, we managed to push ourselves out of the chairs and think about working. We collected the grass whips from the back of the truck and started across the dam. I wanted to have a second look at the deer remains we had found on our last visit to see if there might be a hunter’s arrow among the bones. Firearm season hasn’t started yet, so if this was a hunter-killed deer, the chance of an arrow was possible. But we found no arrow. We did find that a month-old deer carcass can still give a powerful stink when you turn it over with sticks.

I had vowed to eat the fruit of a tomatilla if I came across one, but that didn’t happen. We didn’t really venture into the area where they grow best, and I wasn’t getting much support in this idea from the good wife. Instead we hiked over to some of the exposed ridge above the pecan plantation. Here we sat for a while, thinking about going down to the dam to swing the grasswhips. But these thoughts didn’t hold much appeal, so we sat and chatted about everything and nothing instead.

Eventually we pushed ourselves up from here as well and made our way across the pecan plantation. I suppose if i were industrious, I would get myself a dozen bales of straw and mulch around these trees. But that will have to be for a later trip.

When we arrived at the base of the dam, the idea of giving the grass whips a few swings was unavoidable. But the enthusiasm wasn’t there. I suppose I cleared an entire square meter of dam face (utter sarcasm again), and Libby may have done the same. But we have something called buck brush coming up there. It is a woody scrub that puts an unpleasant recoil in the swing of the whips. Enuf of that! Soon we were back to the truck.

I wandered about a bit more. Libby tells me she returned to the dam with the loppers to make more progress. And then it was time to go home. Which we did. And here I am. Wishing I were there.

*Peanut butter and jelly

Missouri calendar:

  • Halloween.

The Turn Begins

Friday, September 29th, 2006


We don’t have any sassafras that I have discovered at Roundrock, but over at Fallen Timbers the stuff grows like crazy, and I love it. I gave you a picture of some Fallen Timbers sassafras some time ago, but now on our recent return I found that the fall colors are arriving.

Only the sumacs and the sassafras — and the Virginia Creeper high in the tall trees — were really turning in earnest, though some of the oaks were taking on a brown/orange tinge, and we found one ash that had already gone purple. It won’t be long in any case. As I sat in the comfy chair at our new camp at Roundrock, I watched a cardinal hop from branch to branch in the trees beyond me, getting ever closer to the ground. Only when the cardinal reached the ground and stayed there did I realize it was actually the red fallen leaf of a Virginia Creeper.

Curiously, the single leaf on the sassafras tree above was the only one that had changed to vivid red. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen this phenomenon before, but more commonly I’ll see a number of red leaves on an otherwise green sassafras tree — not a single red leaf.

One trouble with making only periodic trips to our woods is that we might miss the fall colors at their best. It always seems that there are one or two days where the colors are most vivid and diverse. After that, they begin to fade. If we’re not out at Roundrock on just the right weekend, we miss them. But I’ll take what I can get. Soon we’ll be kicking our way through all of the raspy fallen leaves and enjoying the season in another way.

Missouri calendar:

  • Pawpaw fruits ripen.
  • Katydids sing in the trees at night.

Oak Gall

Wednesday, June 7th, 2006


This almost looks pretty, and I suppose if I were a certain type of wasp, this would be pretty. I’m going out on a limb (sorry) to say this is “wool sower gall” on a branch of a white oak tree at Fallen Timbers.

This gall, as most of you fine readers already know, is the nursery for little baby wasps, and if my identification of the gall is correct, then this wasp is most likely Callirhytis seminator, a cynipid wasp. (Don’t I sound like I know what I’m talking about?) This particular specimen is larger than a golf ball but not quite as large as a baseball. And from what I’ve read, the gall does not harm the tree any, so everyone wins.

As a nursery, though, this seems like a counterproductive strategy. This looks too tasty to me, or at least too obvious, and I’d think some forest animal would quickly recognize these as a reliable source of some animal protein. Perhaps the gall itself tastes nasty or something.
more gall.JPG

I’m not sure what this second gall is. It might be a “roly poly gall” though its smooth surface isn’t quite right for a match. Perhaps the gall is still young. It is about the same size at the other gall, and I found it at the same time and in the same general area at Fallen Timbers. If anyone is able to enlighten me, I’ll welcome the knowledge.

Don’t Forget:

Consider making a submission to the Festival of Trees.

Missouri calendar:

  • Elderberries begin blooming.

Happy 26th Anniversary, Libby!

Carnival of Anthropomorphic Trees

Wednesday, May 24th, 2006

shapely tree.JPG

Let’s declare this post the first ever Carnival of Anthropomorphic Trees. Like other blog carnivals, Roundrock Journal will be the host site this month, and then another blog will host it next month. Who’s interested in being the next host? I’m sure there are plenty of trees in the blogosphere that give some sort of human appearance. In the past, I have posted about one here and a different one here.

Fort Wayne Indiana etc. has what must be the ultimate answer to logging depredations in this tree. (I don’t think it’s been photoshopped either.)

The Missouri Forestkeepers Strange and Extraordinary Trees contest came up with this cute image.

This one from Red Oak Hollow might keep you awake at night. And so might this festive one. Strange things seem to happen in Tennessee.

The lovely Rexroth’s Daughter Robin Andrea over at the wonderful New Dharma Bums blog made this post about a couple of anthropomorphic trees she encounters near her place in Washington state.

Kati at RealMud Garden has this contribution of her yoga tree.

And in the not-safe-for-work category, there are these natural features captured on Best Funny Pictures (though I have to wonder if some are not legit).

The tree in the photo above is at our woods called Fallen Timbers. When I had a forester out there to make suggestions for improving our woods, he recommended removing this very tree. His motivation was to improve the stand for producing timber (which would not hurt the wildlife benefits of the forest), so such a tree as this one would not be a keeper. I, however, could not bear to take it down (nor would I want to try to bring down a tree this large). So it remains while others around it have fallen from storms.

Update: Plans are afoot for a regular Festival of Trees, just like the many other blog carnivals and circuses. I promise to post about this when plans grow more firm.

Missouri calendar:

  • Listen for the gray treefrog chorus.

four by four by eight

Friday, May 19th, 2006

old logs.JPG

Are you familiar with the Robert Frost poem “The Wood-Pile“? It sprang instantly to my mind when I came upon this old pile of wood I had cut many years ago at Fallen Timbers.

In the poem Frost speaks of the wood cutter who had done his work with an ax, and my work was not too much different. I’m sure I had cut this in the days before I had my trusty Husky chainsaw, when I did all of my wood cutting with a bow saw and muscle. It certainly never amounted to a cord of wood — four by four by eight — as the axeman in the poem achieved. But I did do the work and then forgot about it, just as in the poem.

I cut this wood in the first year we came to Fallen Timbers when the tops of all of the cut trees lay scattered about the forest floor. I was ambitious to clear them all, and I turned to them with my bow saw and my naivete. I didn’t get far. But there are piles of wood like this one found here and there in the scrubby areas of our forest. Several were produced by my son, Seth, who was eager to prove his mastery over the eventual chainsaw. None of this wood is good for the campfire any longer. It is too rotten. But it does provide a haven for the little wild things of the forest, and that seems like a sufficient end as well.

Missouri calendar:

  • Serviceberry fruits ripen.