About stumping

Stumping, meaning the removal of stumps, doesn’t have a special season.  It seems to fit well between planting and harvest times, especially if the targeted stumps can be located in the underbrush that cannot be mowed and grows accordingly.  The most common and least favorite stump in the Bluecircle is the Black Locust.  Although most are less than 1o inches across and some have been cut nearly flush, they are remnants of substantial groves that were “slashed and burned” 5 years ago.  In most cases life remains in these clustered stumps and only regular mowing prevents another revival of this invasive tree.

So benign neglect of these stumps to await decay and resolution won’t work.  About a year ago Charlie stumped with his Bobcat, a small track-excavator, yielding a modest pile of smaller stumps and a battlefield of roots, clumps and divots.  He didn’t offer to come back for a second afternoon, and I didn’t invite him.  Either a different approach, or heavier equipment, was in order.IMG_0989

Farming – always a challenging and even a dangerous occupation.  An Ohio neighbor of mine lost his grandfather to stumping in the 50’s, apparently when an explosive intended to lift a stump malfunctioned.  We crossed this approach off the list and rented the largest available backhoe.   This began well enough until a hydraulic line ruptured an hour into the job.  Your farmer got thoroughly spattered with fluid while trying to identify the leaking hose, but by mid-afternoon the ‘hoe was back at work.

On into the evening our neighbor Geeorge, an experienced operator from his years in utility construction, dug and pulled, and dug again at the field of stumps.  Twenty stumps were piled at day’s end, with probably that number left for another day (or more) of stumping. IMG_0987

Celebrating green in midSummer

IMG_0984This Summer the Bluecircle is washed with green.  There is impressive new growth on almost all of the pines that survived the drought of ’12, and on a few hundred Scotch pine replacements.  It is almost lost in the rapidly rising tide of ragweed, wild grape and even poison ivy – wherever it has escaped the mower.  The Japanese beetles, brown with a little green, have emerged to challenge the upwards growth of the cultivated grapes.  Ironically, these guests with no natural predators seem prefer wine grapes and roses over the wild varieties.  Overnight new leaves and blossoms were lost and it was time to break out the pesticides.

The grasses have already produced seed and now mostly subside, growing dryer by the day.  Random sunflowers seeded here and by the birds and rodents are weedlike but will evade culling if they lie within the rows of pines or infant oaks.   So far, regular rains have improved the appearance of essentially everything on the Bluecircle.