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