Adventures in the Jungle

I had a number of things to do Thursday night after dinner and with Julie away for the evening I thought the kids and I could go on a little adventure. I needed a couple of poles for chicken roosts, we were hoping to transplant a pawpaw tree, the last few eggs needed to be collected and the cows needed fresh pasture. It so happens the pawpaw thicket is right next to a stand of tall, thin maples on dad’s farm but we have to walk 1/4 of a mile through the brush and weeds to get there…the jungle!

We better have a little snack before we go. Along the road by my parent’s house we spy some ripe candy. We shoved a lot of berries in our faces before I even thought to get the camera out.

Raspberry

Then it was on down the road. 8′ tall corn to the right, 6′ tall ragweed to the left.

Ragweed

On and on we travel. Deeper and deeper into the thick. Not much poison ivy but here and there it grows against the corn forcing us to blaze a new trail, often pinched between the corn and the steep stream banks. You can see mud on leaves showing how high the water was for a recent flood.

Stream

But we must go on. Just a brush axe, chainsaw, helmet and four children. Four children? “Everybody here? Count off.” No count.I arrive at the edge of the stand of maples. This is the place. The kids are somewhere behind me. They’ll catch up when they hear my saw.

MapleStand

Just inside of the edge everything opens up. It is amazingly open in here with a canopy like a hard ceiling…like we are inside a building. Surprisingly cool too. But the mosquitoes are thick. Dad would prefer to remove the maples entirely and reclaim the field. I would like to coppice the stand. These soft maples will coppice well enough but really don’t offer much utility. The wood does not last and has a low BTU value. Maybe I can find a use for it. Maybe I can shift away from the maple and toward the other types of tree growing here; walnut and hackberry. Maybe I could make rustic furniture…lol.

MapleStand2

With my poles cut it’s time to walk on to the pawpaw thicket. I don’t think the kids have ever been here. I have come here a couple of times each year since 1993 but I have never picked a pawpaw. I think the raccoons get them all. There must be a hundred pawpaw trees growing here.

pawpaw

After a bit of searching we find a small shoot coming up from a root. We cut about a foot of root on either side of the cutting and begin the trek back to the road. Everyone was bug-eaten, tired and dirty but we had a good time. With the kids, tools and poles loaded we head down the road to finish up our chores…after a brief stop at a mulberry tree for some more candy. Maybe when I have grandchildren we can pick pawpaws in the yard but it probably won’t happen before 2020. Worse, I really should go back with a shovel and get a couple more trees. Another adventure awaits us!

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9 thoughts on “Adventures in the Jungle

  1. paw paws, like most plants but perhaps more, don’t like to be moved. If it isn’t to hard to find a seedling or a sapling you might consider severing the roots around the stem about a foot and a half out but and in a circle around the stem and leave it for the rest of the summer. Then upon dormancy or shortly there after you can transplant as much of the root system as possible, it should have developed some nice new feeder roots inside the area you cut. We’ve had success with this method of transplanting paw paws but maybe you’ll have success the way you did it. Good luck…

  2. Whether your dad removes or coppices his maples it look like he has a good mixed crop of baseball bats, pool cues and dried wood for smoking food lol!

    • it is a lot of volunteer biomass.90% is maple but there are a few hackberry, walnut and box elder as well. It’s not my ground, it’s dad’s. But I find myself wondering what I would do with it if it were mine. There is a big piece of bottom ground attached to those trees, open ground for acres and acres. What would I do with it? It often floods spring and fall. Too open and hot to graze in the summer. I honestly have no idea. Maybe it would be better to remove the trees and farm that ground. I might farm it a little differently but…

      • Well “gorry sakes” HFS! It sounds like your dad has his own Wilderness Field like Grandpa Thomas in Ralph Moody’s “Fields of Home”! I don’t see any trees with a wide enough girth that dynamite should be called for so you should be safe 😉 Grandpa Thomas planted his to potatoes, we will have to wait and see what your dad does.

        Pawpaw is Greek to me on the Cdn Prairie so I asked Mr Wiki about it. Huh more than a fruit – under Uses – it got me thinking about your post in March about the East Pasture you talked about with the zipper and the erosion along the creek bed…

        “Habitat restoration – Pawpaws are sometimes included in ecological restoration plantings since this tree grows well in wet soil and has a strong tendency to form well-rooted colonial thickets. The pawpaw is particularly valued for establishing fast-growing vegetation in areas where frequent flooding might produce erosion, since their root systems help hold streambanks steady. Pawpaws grow well even in cold hollows with little exposure to winter sunlight.”

        • That is a good description of the thicket. It is downhill from a steep north-facing slope under the shadow of giant oaks and hickories where two streams meet. I had not read about erosion control. I like it and that matches what we saw. I may just put in an order with Stark brothers nursery as Eumaeus is right…hard to move those trees.

  3. What a great place to explore. Maybe one of your children can learn to make chairs from the wood. I do also like the idea of using the woodland for project around the farm. Wish I had some room for trees.

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