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Author Topic: Land owner sustainability questions  (Read 4178 times)

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Offline grimmjohn

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Land owner sustainability questions
« on: June 09, 2010, 12:54:42 AM »
Hi guys, first off I would like to say this board has been a great resource since I discovered it.

Second,
Here is our land

This is 140 acres with about 90+ acres of timber and 20+ acres of nice bermuda hayfield.
In the very mid-west of the picture there is a large area of pine at the top of the hill north of the small pond and the topo slopes all the way down to the East of the next picture. Everything that is not pasture was becuase my grandparents knew it was too rocky/sloped to grow corn and cotton on 100 years ago.


This is 50 acres of mostly hay field and homestead right across the road from the previous pic, you can use the trail/driveway to line them up, with some cedars in the very south and a riparian zone just north of that. The fields are still slightly terraced after all these years from cotton/corn decades ago. Incidentally, this land was paid for by my grandparents with 1 bale of cotton a year for 10 years, and this is the Arkansas River Valley, none of that easy growing delta dirt here, rocks and clay all the way.

Anyway, we have always been loath to cut a tree, all those single trees standing in pastures are 24++dbh red oaks and we have never done any logging for fear of tearing up the place. We do all work hard to keep the understory clean.

Some of the pictures/stories here have made me reconsider though, after only witnessing hell-scape logging in person. I have a biology degree and can see the benifit of selective cutting and releasing many of the trees in the forested areas for the betterment of the stand and am considering getting my parents to talk to a forester. My father has also gotten too old to bale hay and I already have a job, and so does he, so we basically just let other family bale it.

I do not want to bale hay, but a dream of mine has always been to build a house across the road from them on top of the hill in the tree line. Being 100 miles from a metro area, and with the USFW and AR G&F hiring 3 people a year statewide between them, I would not hold out for a nice job where I get to use my degree in my neck of the woods.

Bottom line--Is there enough land here to make a living off of timber/forestry wise? Part of me wants to plant every square inch of this place in oak, and part of me thinks my ancestors will roll in their graves for planting trees in the fields they worked years to clear with hands and horses. I obviously could not go 35 years with out a paycheck either (my wife and I are in our mid-late twenties by the way). It is still my parents land, but I know right now they are concerned about leaving it in the best shape for us and hope for us to stay close by, and know that we are not balers or ranchers.

Anyway, thoughts, opinions?

Thanks.

Offline sprucebunny

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Re: Land owner sustainability questions
« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2010, 06:07:04 AM »
Welcome to the Forestry Forum !

That sounds like a great piece of land.

I don't know enough about economics to answer your questions but trees are a crop and I don't see anything wrong with planting several species of trees in some of the fields.

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Offline fishpharmer

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Re: Land owner sustainability questions
« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2010, 06:39:47 AM »
Welcome to Forestry Forum.  You may need to define your standard of living to adequately answer that question.   I read about folks being almost totally self sufficient on far less land then you have at your disposal.  If you don't mind some hard work the potential is limitless.  Seems like if you market your timber yourself as firewood, lumber and possibly veneer logs you could produce some income.  It would hire a forester to start with.
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Offline Sprucegum

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Re: Land owner sustainability questions
« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2010, 09:52:23 AM »
The secret to sustainability is diversity; you may need to bale hay to cover the times when there is no wood market or just until you can establish your truck garden, bed & breakfast, woodlot tours, woodworking shop, .....

There is nothing you can't do - but some things you may choose not to  :)

Offline tyb525

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Re: Land owner sustainability questions
« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2010, 10:08:23 AM »
I'm younger than you...and I have been making a good income using a few trees now and then from our 100 acre woods. If you bought a sawmill, say a Woodmizer LT40 (just an example), you could saw your own lumber, dry it, and sell it. You have plenty of land there to do this. My operation takes up about an acre.

Keep in mind you can also mill other people's logs, which makes up about 1/3 of my income from the mill.

With some work, I think you should be able to make a living at this.

Good luck! And remember, this is one of the best places to learn how to get started!
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Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Land owner sustainability questions
« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2010, 12:48:19 PM »
I would contact a professional forester and have them do a Landowner Stewardship Plan for your property to respond to your proposed objectives. You may also want to have the property placed in the Tree Farm system which also requires a management plan. Do you know what the soils are on the property and made a determination of the soil's productivity?
~Ron

Offline Magicman

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Re: Land owner sustainability questions
« Reply #6 on: June 09, 2010, 09:54:27 PM »
First, welcome to The Forestry Forum.  Five years ago, I had the same issues facing me.  I made some of the choices that  Ron just suggested.  Virtually all of my open land is now planted with SYP and various species of oak.  It is also now in the American Tree Farm system.  Contact your "County Forester".  Your Extension Service can point you in the right direction.

Here is a link to my tree farm.  Good luck with your decisions.

http://www.forestryforum.com/board/index.php/topic,41402.0.html
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Offline grimmjohn

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Re: Land owner sustainability questions
« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2010, 10:07:28 PM »
Welcome to the Forestry Forum! That sounds like a great piece of land.
Thanks!
I don't know enough about economics to answer your questions but trees are a crop and I don't see anything wrong with planting several species of trees in some of the fields.
That is probably what I would do, Oak and some Hickory/walnut since that is the climax community in these parts. I love an old sycamore too if they are worth anything as timber or not, and for being in AR there is not a magnolia within 75 miles of that house, probably not a maple one in that 200 acres either. 

I'm not an economics major either, my extended family has a saying though, "I'm gonna farm till I go broke."--I'd just rather not ;)

Welcome to Forestry Forum.
Thank you!
 
You may need to define your standard of living to adequately answer that question. It would hire a forester to start with.
Well my wife is a teacher, and I could teach high school too, that would be about the only way to use my degree out there I guess...But if I could make $40-50K a year of that land average that would be awesome, *DanG rich by AR standards ;) I wouldn't complain about 20 or 30 either, country life is cheap ya know. It would depend a lot on if I could make money having it logged/milled by others or, as is suggested below, buy logging and milling equipment and DIY.
I agree on the forester, I can talk your ear off about aquatic ecology/toxicology/evolution, but trees and dirt were not covered I guess ;)

If you don't mind some hard work the potential is limitless.
I was hoping you wouldn't say that.

The secret to sustainability is diversity; you may need to bale hay to cover the times when there is no wood market or just until you can establish your truck garden, bed & breakfast, woodlot tours, woodworking shop, .....
Holy Scrap a flying pig is telling me I have a message right now what is with this place with the fake bugs on my screen and the flying pigs!
Speaking of flying pigs, that will be the day when somebody visits my neck of the woods for a B&B, I am handsome though and these old widows get lonely...

Is this the longest post ever yet?...

Offline grimmjohn

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Re: Land owner sustainability questions
« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2010, 10:48:07 PM »
I'm younger than you...and I have been making a good income using a few trees now and then from our 100 acre woods. If you bought a sawmill, say a Woodmizer LT40 (just an example), you could saw your own lumber, dry it, and sell it. You have plenty of land there to do this. My operation takes up about an acre.
Good luck! And remember, this is one of the best places to learn how to get started!
Thanks! I know, I am glad I found this place. Your words are encouraging. Since I have no experiance in logging/milling I was coming at this more from a people paying me for logs angle, we do have nice big barn though...

First, welcome to The Forestry Forum.  Five years ago, I had the same issues facing me.  I made some of the choices that  Ron just suggested.  Virtually all of my open land is now planted with SYP and various species of oak.  It is also now in the American Tree Farm system.  Contact your "County Forester".  Your Extension Service can point you in the right direction.
Here is a link to my tree farm.  Good luck with your decisions.
http://www.forestryforum.com/board/index.php/topic,41402.0.html
Thanks for the link, I'm reading it now. I assume you went woodsman?
Arkansas is lucky to have state paid foresters to help out, though with so much gov'ment land around they have their hands full, I think I'm too late this year for some state trees for $200/thousand by the time we could get things sorted out.
http://www.forestry.state.ar.us/seedlingsales_new.htm

I might have to wait for my parents to die to cut a tree or plant one of those fields, but I know that they don't like being out there alone, and they won't ever leave, and they would hate looking at our land and not likeing what they see, and being too old to do anything about it, and that day is coming...and I think they could like smart forestry more than disuse, which is why I was looking for opinions if one could live on 200 acres.

Thanks for the replys guys.

Offline Tim/South

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Re: Land owner sustainability questions
« Reply #9 on: June 09, 2010, 11:04:35 PM »
I own about half the amount of land you mention. I come from a farming family so the Ag. part plays a role in what we do.
For me, the life saver is to diversify.
I raise and sell hay (not what you want to hear  ;) )
I also sell grass fed beef by the side and quarter. I no longer take cattle to the sale barn and accept what ever price is offered that day.
I own and operate a WM LT 40 manual mill. The mill is the item that really opened some doors. We have begun doing some storm clean up as well as getting free logs.

I also am a teacher/coach on the side. It pays the bills. The rest is just extra.

Offline PC-Urban-Sawyer

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Re: Land owner sustainability questions
« Reply #10 on: June 09, 2010, 11:48:15 PM »
...

Is this the longest post ever yet?...

John,

Nah, not by a long shot... ;D

BTW, welcome to the Forestry Forum!

Herb


Offline grimmjohn

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Re: Land owner sustainability questions
« Reply #11 on: June 11, 2010, 12:55:36 AM »
I raise and sell hay (not what you want to hear  ;) )
I'll keep my city job before I walk behind a baler again, I'll carry the biggest clearing saw stihl has all day before that ;)
The kinda discolored rectangle area just to the East of the small western pond was cleared and sprigged in my teens, it was disked and disked, and inbetween each one my siblings and I picked up every rock and root and stick bigger than your thumbnail, long story short it would hurt to plant trees there and I could bale it if I had to.
I'm just being a baby though, we own a dang bale accumulator and a claw, sexy pieces of equipment, makes it easy. It's all fenced too and herefords are in my blood, cows aint ever interested me much though.

welcome to the Forestry Forum!
Thanks!

Offline grimmjohn

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Re: Land owner sustainability questions
« Reply #12 on: June 11, 2010, 01:21:19 AM »
Ya'll been so nice, figured I could post some more pics


Driving to the farm


Out the back door, some'a those trees look smaller than I recollected


Don't get all excited boys, that is National Forest near my home. :)


AHHHG get me outta here!!
Delta not 60 miles south east of the previous pic.

Offline Magicman

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Re: Land owner sustainability questions
« Reply #13 on: June 11, 2010, 07:59:52 AM »
Those oaks scattered about in the second picture will never be more than "pasture trees".  Short and very "limby".  They are too widely spaced to be encouraged to grow tall.  They look nice on a lawn, but will never be good log producers.

I can understand your not wanting to plant trees on open land that you helped clear.  I had those same feelings.  I'm happy with my decision as I watch those trees grow.  I have oaks that I planted in '08 that are now as tall as I am.    :)
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Offline Sprucegum

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Re: Land owner sustainability questions
« Reply #14 on: June 11, 2010, 09:04:39 AM »
If you don't like farming there is no point trying to be a farmer  ???  Get that woodlot started!  ;)

Offline Clark

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Re: Land owner sustainability questions
« Reply #15 on: June 11, 2010, 02:45:40 PM »
I know very little about all them southern pine and oak-hickory forests or much of anything about Arkansas.  So take this with a grain of salt:

You said there is some hesitation on the part of family members to cut any timber.  These guys have some very low impact forestry methods.  They are in Missouri so their methods may not apply to your land and timber types, I simply don't know but it might be worth checking out.  I knew a guy who had worked for them and was a big supporter of using uneven-aged management in oak-hickory forests.  He claimed the quality was far better than traditional methods.

Clark
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Offline WDH

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Re: Land owner sustainability questions
« Reply #16 on: June 11, 2010, 08:39:49 PM »
Unfortunately, you cannot make a living growing timber on that amount of land.  You will have to have an alternate form of income if you are into growing legal crops. 

With that said, growing timber on that land for the rest of your life will be very satisfying, and you can get intermittent income from the sale of timber.  I am on about an 8 to 10 year cycle gaining income from harvesting timber.  It is the years in between that will require additional income support.
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Offline Bruce_A

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Re: Land owner sustainability questions
« Reply #17 on: June 11, 2010, 10:53:25 PM »
Hay is just a smaller tree,  a different shoe for a bare foot.

Offline Banjo picker

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Re: Land owner sustainability questions
« Reply #18 on: June 12, 2010, 05:18:31 AM »
Not really wanting to throw water on your fire...but in an earlier post you mentioned siblings..provided they are still with us...they might have a say in whats done on the land unless you are holding the deed...Tim
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Offline Phorester

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Re: Land owner sustainability questions
« Reply #19 on: June 13, 2010, 10:02:25 AM »

A couple of things; Definitely get a professional forester to create a management plan for you.

Second, the type of soil you have will govern the tree species to manage for. A farmer plants different crops and orchards in fields where they will grow the best, a builder gets a perk test for drainfields to determine where to build houses, a forestland owner needs to put the same emphasis on soils.  Most don't.

It's good to think about the future; what trees to plant, what trees to manage for in existing woods.  But keep an open mind. Don't make any final decisions until you get a management plan. You can't really decide what to do until you know what you have to work with.
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