Ranch Life � The Peace of the Forest
These entries are from Henry S Rodgers’ www.lastusas.com
((Dad’s web page no longer exists)Brian)
Journal – June 2001
Most of these entries were originally Journal entries
This File explores the relationship between Ranch Life and my other interests.
I have a multitude of interests – Ranch Management being only one of many.
Jack thinks that the things we have learned about forest management are valuable – that we should be reporting on what we have discovered and otherwise learned about those problems. This I have tried to do in this book. But the shin bone is connected to the knee bone, so there may be some relationship of this book and the following scattered thoughts.
These old entries are some of the things that got lost in the shuffle, or never seemed pertinent. They are in this book for what they are worth.
6/3/01 – On 6/5/01 Clara and I will have been married 58 yrs. That seems like more than our share. Why am I still here? I have no doubt that getting ahold of my emotional health was a major factor. People who are angry all the time do not live to be old. People who are fault-finders do not live to be old.
Being interested in things was another factor. (Of course, we have to avoid being hit by a fatal illness, or a car, or a bullet.) I have always been interested in a variety of things. Right now, my interests include
The whole field of Forest Management is vast, but important.
We realize that what Las Tusas Ranch does is only a drop in the bucket. We try to see what problems lie ahead.
Travis is interested in a variety of things including forest management. I am happy that he is, and have dumped on him some of the forest management problems I see. Two facts are primary: 1. The devastating forest-fires, and 2. The energy crunch. My proposed solutions: 1. Harvest as much of the forest products each year as is ecologically sound, and 2. Use all scrap produced in the production of energy.
Right now, we are pruning and thinning primarily for fire protection. We have been burning the slash (as long as it was safe to do so), even though we realize that such burning is a monumental waste of energy, and a source of CO2 that isn’t doing the planet any good.
A more sensible way to dispose of slash is to put it through a chipper to reduce its bulk, and then put it in a land-fill somewhere. Mike and Mona use it in their parking area. It is also good for weed control, in fact it kills most plants. The Asplund Fiber Co. and others have been using these chips for years. Asplund has been converting the chips to paper for use as tar-paper, pitch-saturated soil pipe, and other useful products. When we run out of petroleum, we may return to this technology.
These slash chips are not very useful for ordinary paper, but that may change when we run out of prime wood for the paper-mills. What these chips have is stored energy.
The last I heard, there were big corporations back east who were harvesting ‘bio-mass’ – all plant matter in the forest. They were burning this bio-mass in their furnaces. A big furnace can do this. It is not easy, but it is being done. The big furnace is designed to blow bio-mass and air into the combustion chamber where it is reduced to CO2 and H2O, and Energy.
The task I assigned to Travis was to design a small version of this massive furnace that will do the same job for a single-family home, or perhaps an intermediate version that will heat a huge apartment building.
In order to control forest-fires, and begin harvesting the energy that forests produce, we need to begin this year – right now.
Besides this small furnace, we need to design harvesters to collect this bio-mass. As I understand the harvesters used back east, they are similar in principle to a wheat harvester. They just move along a path, perhaps 20’ wide, raking in everything in its path and reducing it all to chips. Then they leave a 20’ swath for seed, and cut the next 20’ swath for product.
The esthetics of the resulting woods may leave something to be desired, but I am sure we can make the best of the situation, for example, always cut at right angles to the line of sight.
Here at LTR we have a park, which is what we want, but there are areas near us that virtually nobody sees. These areas could be harvested as described above. In many ways, ranchers would like this, because they want grass, not trees.
We all realize that harvesting destroys habitat for various creatures, but if we are careful, it will never be as devastating as a forest-fire. Creatures are adaptable. If they survive, they can find a place to live.
I am glad the ecologists want to save old-growth forests, and the creatures in them, but we must remember that old-growth forests are especially susceptible to fire – they are hard to protect.
I am also interested in grasslands management.
We have a pasture of about 20 acres, that is a pleasure to behold. The reason is explained in Nature-tour guide.
Looking north from the road in front of our house.
Why do men climb mountains? Because they are there. So also: Why do people identify plants and animals? Because they are there.
I enjoy identifying plants and animals. The many Nature Mags that I read tell me that countless other people do also. We have identified close to 100 varieties of plants and animals in this pasture. This endeavor is satisfying. See Nature Tour.
Field of Diamonds
Yesterday morning I was privileged to view a natural phenomenon that gives great pleasure to some of us. It all depends on what turns you on.
With a lot of moisture in the air – it had rained a day or two before – we usually get frost of some sort this time of year. Occasionally, when the temp drops very slowly, and when other conditions are exactly right, our frost consists of huge crystals, perhaps 1/4″ in dia. The biggest crystals usually grow on grass stems, the shorter the grass, the closer the crystals are together.
With these frost crystals on the grass, and the brilliant NM sun peeping over the Creston, we get a display that you won’t soon forget. You see not only the sparkle and glitter that you get with any kind of frost; with these crystals, you get a multi-colored display, constantly changing with your own movement. A non-scientist would probably say, ‘every color of the rainbow’; a scientist would say, ‘every color of the spectrum’; they are the same colors. This is the show I describe as, Field of Diamonds. Not everyone gets to see it, and not everyone who sees it, sees it.
Perhaps my next book ought to be, The Art of Enjoying Life.
[3/16/02 - Actually it is The Art of the Satisfying Life.]
The Hay Field
We have, below the pasture, a hayfield of about ten acres that is irrigated by means of the acequia. It is a source of income for us, producing up to about 400 60-lb bails of prime hay per year (of which the cutter gets half and we get half). In the course of irrigating this field, we flood out many GDMs, who attract many raptors (as well as local dogs). We enjoy our hay field.
We enjoy our river front. We own both sides of the river, therefore we can plan whatever conservation measures seem good to us. There are four beaver dams in our section of the river. So far, no one has disturbed them. In the old days, people were always after such creatures with leg-hold traps (a particularly cruel device). Thank Heaven, this is not a major problem these days. People do not need the money that skins provided. I wish I could say that people are kinder than they used to be.
Will put photo of Sapello River here when I find it.
Has been a major theme with us since we bought this place. Our ideas have changed over the years, but we always wanted to do what was best for the land. I remember thanking the Daisy Flea-bane for holding the top-soil in place until the grass could get established.
I remember fighting the thistles, which my neighbor called a ‘yierva mala’, ‘bad plant’. I remember fighting the ants, by putting rocks on their hills (they just moved to another place.)
Jack summarizes: “I can live with the creatures.”
We practice Conservation, because of what we learn from Ecology – the study of the way living things and their habitat interact. We finally realized that we weren’t losing that many calves to the coyotes, yet the coyotes were thriving. What were they living on? One day Jack saw them in the pasture catching gophers or other GDMs. Coyotes don’t need calves to survive: We let them alone.
We have never had tunnel vision as to the Big Picture. ‘No man is an island.’ ‘No ranch is an island.’ The Rain-forests, AIDS, Top-soil, war – all affect you and me. The Ozone layer, the Green-house Effect, Global Warming – all about us. But mainly: The Population Explosion! It will kill us first. There is nothing we can do about it, as Jack says, but that doesn’t keep me from being concerned about it.
A new field, but one of prime importance to the US. Our people seem to be the most gullible of the nations, but that may be a temporary condition. It needs to be stopped. Can it be stopped? I see ads on TV – stop smoking – use a condom – but they do not have the resources that the commercial ads have. But! See the reports on what Warren Buffett is doing. People may not have any sense, but they are fighters – they will fight population control until the last dog is dead.
I have an entry in my Journal, (from perhaps 20 years ago) in which I list the obligations of a Christian: in this Credo, I list all of those things that the environmentalists and the anti-materialists want to happen. I was aware of these problems over forty years ago; so, this idea is not new.
See Where Do We Go from Here?
The Christian Faith
Like most of my areas of interest, this one is losing ground. It doesn’t seem to have a future. The Evangelicals are gaining – we are losing. Even so, in my own little corner, I still think it has promise. See Commentary on the Christian Faith
The Nature of Reality
I am currently reading The Elegant Universe by Brian Green, and When Machines Think by Neil Gershenfeld. Both have to do with the physical world, but both challenge the rational mind. I am reaching out as far as my tether will let me.
[These ideas were all in what I called The Bonus. There are now books called Where Do We Go from Here?, Courage to Change, Spiritual Health, Activism Today, Commentary on the Christian Faith, Corporate Power/Corporate Greed, and of course my Web Page, lastusas.com.]
[Somewhere in this mess, I explore the nature of the Real World. I find that it is no more ‘real’ than the spiritual world. All matter seems to be composed of crumpled space. I am not even sure that space is ‘real’. They say that the known universe is finite. So the next logical question is. “What’s beyond the universe?”]
Daddo watching one form of space become another form.
(A reference to String Theory.)
(With most photo processors, a photo as dark as this can be lightened fairly easily.)