This year’s harvest off the land

Today I was doing a bit of firewood cleanup (stacking some split wood, getting the wood that had fallen behind the pile, cutting pieces that were still stuck together, etc) and I took stock of where I am on firewood. I’m estimating I have around 3 cords of wood that are burnable (and meant for) this year and so far about 2 cords meant for next year. I then came in and processed the bag of honey mushrooms I collected this weekend (though that trip did cost me a 10/22 magazine that fell off SOMEWHERE on 8 acres) that we were adding to some pasta for dinner. Unfortunately, thats a pretty big part of what the land has provided this year. But it got me thinking and I wanted to do a post on what has been taken from my property.

Garden – Well this is a big flop due to poor soil and lack of time to do much. My squash that was planted in the duck poo did GREAT. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a squash (supposed to be butternut) rather it was a decorative squash; not even a cool looking one at that. I did get several yellow squash this year, but thats about it. Well, I did get a lot of lettuce come up, but my wife did not remember it at all so we didn’t really utilize it much. The indian corn didnt sprout at all, the tomato plant didn’t ripen, the watermelon didn’t grow, the fruit trees are too young (and this year animals and bucks have killed off at least 1 tree and 3 blueberry plants). A LOT of effort will need to be put in to get organic matter in the soil before it will yield much. Even my raspberry plants aren’t doing much growing. Maybe the rabbits will help out in this area.

Wood – two years I got quite a bit of firewood from making the rifle range, last year my wife’s foot issues were in full swing so I did not use much time for collecting firewood. That is also what kept me from installing the wood furnace last year, though the deal was too good to pass up. This year I fully intend on getting the furnace installed so I am also working on firewood as well for next year (who knows what will happen, so all the better if you can collect wood for next year). So I’ve collected about 2 cords so far this year between cutting some down and making some clearings with the tractor. I split some pieces that didn’t get split about 3-4 months ago when I cut some trees down and I was surprised they were already down to 26% moisture. Granted that was material that was around 6″ diameter, so not huge pieces, but seeing that was enough to get me stacking some of the round wood rather than worrying about splitting it this year. I can split it in the spring (hopefully I have a splitter by then!) and it will be super dry by winter. From spring to fall/winter is enough as it is, so the extra year as cut would just ensure it.

Wild food – I have a couple pounds of honey mushrooms (and can easily collect many many more over the next couple weeks!) that I either had with dinner tonight or put in the quart bag to freeze for the future. Tomorrow’s dinner will be squirrel (which my daughter LOVES) finishing off the last of stored squirrel. I intend on putting some effort into squirrel harvesting this year and should be able to easily collect 10 off my property. Turkey were VERY abundant last year, however I have seen very few this year. And at $15 for a tag, its not the most bang for the buck, so not sure that I’d go for that. However, baiting deer is legal here and I have the bottom portion of a deer feeder that I need to assemble so I am hoping that’ll guarantee a deer. Don’t hate, I kind of enjoy hunting, but I sure like to harvest meat even more. So that should be a good 30-40lbs of meat I can add onto the list. There are a few rabbits around, so I likely can get one or two of them as well.

Other – between wind blown debris and limbs from firewood cutting there is a lot of scraggly and/or small wood that wood-n’t be much use in a wood furnace. So what to do with it? We have been having fun for the last couple years having fires. Its mostly during the summer, but fall is fun too, and we even had one in the snow last winter which was pretty awesome (a bit hard to start the fire, I need to have some sort of cover to keep it all dry).

I can’t think of much more. If I can get the garden area producing, or get these fruit plants established well then I can really feel like I am getting a good return on the land (though the privacy and quiet alone does a pretty good job on that). What can you expect from land? Well, I supposed that depends on how much free time you have (or how you choose to divvy it ¬†up) and how motivated you are. I know garden and plants could do a lot more if a person dedicated more time, effort, and materials to them. Of course meat is the same way, spend more time hunting and you’ll get more.

One thing I may be able to add to this list in the future is maple syrup now that I know I have one big maple tree (and a couple moderate sized ones that may be a bit small yet to tap). I could probably get a quart or two of syrup to add to the list. And, it’ll be pure enough that it won’t mold unlike the junk I got from cracker barrel that was too watery and went bad before I used it.

Leave a Reply