Wood, lumber and resilience history

For firewood at Meadowcreek, we only use dead trees.  Right now is when we head out to the woods to select ones which fell or died this summer.  Those are the best for firewood. Actually, I lied.  We did cut some living trees off the pond dam this summer.  They had to go.  Should never have been permitted to get that big.  Still might cause the dam to leak.

white-fences-horses-farm-upscale-1500Anyway, my point is that we rarely cut living trees. Twelve hundred acres of timber is a lot.  Much of it is straight up and down and impossible to log unless you are an idiot or desperate.  Since we’ve managed to avoid both idiocy and desperation lately, that leaves about seven or eight hundred acres of land you could log with a horse.  But that still leaves a lot of trees.   Most are in various stages of decay and decline.  We also need a site for another house.  So, we are seriously considering cutting quite a few trees.

We’d like to cure them ourselves.

Once I built a fence out of uncured lumber.  When I nailed the boards to the posts, it looked like something out of a horse farm postcard.  And it was in Kentucky and we still had the horse we got for a wedding present.  But then the wood dried out.

Turned into the strangest looking fence you have ever seen.  Somehow the boards stayed nailed to the posts, but they all curved in all sorts of directions.  The people who bought the farm from us bulldozed my fence.  The bulldozed it and a beautiful old shed into a draw.  Right on top of where the outlet into our artificial wetlands which cleaned up the effluent from the house.

Then, when the toilet backed up, they had a nice time finding the outlet.  They deserved it.

I doubt we’ll go with an artificial wetlands for the next house we build at Meadowcreek.  We’ll probably just tap into the pipe to the septic field.  Did you know that we plan to grow herbs on the six acres where the septic field is?  Should be fun and free nutrition.  Grass is always greener over the septic tank, as they say.  Just can’t plow deep.  Better to hand dig beds anyway.  Might be some arrowheads down there.

Down on that bench, above the hayfield which can flood, is also where we plan to put the wood curing facility.  We have an 80 foot drop from the spring at that point, so we should be able to generate quite a bit of power.  Maybe enough to run a sawmill in the summer and light the greenhouses.  So its a perfect spot for a wood curing facility.  Plus it has a beautiful view of the spires on the west ridge.

It’s a wonderful place to work.  Or camp.  Or meditate.  Or pray.  Or just be.

Or work.  Did you know that resilience was first seen in print in 1818?  A guy named Tredgold used it to describe a property of timber. Oak is more resilient than beech. An oak yoke can take a sudden and severe load without breaking. Almost four decades later, Mallet, in a report to the Admiralty, referred to a measure called the modulus of resilience as a means of assessing the ability of materials to withstand severe conditions.

The way we use it originated with Buzz Holling.  His 1973 paper defined the resilience of an ecosystem as how much disturbance it can take and still exist.

He further contrasted resilience with stability, defined as the ability of a system to return to its equilibrium state after a temporary disturbance  He noted that both resilience and stability are important properties of ecological systems.

In the early 1970s, the term resilience began to be used as a synonym for stress resistance in psychological studies of children. When psychologists, sustainability advocates and other pseudo-scientists use the term resilience, what they actually usually mean is what ecologists call stability.

Resilience to most psychologists is the ability to return to the steady-state following a perturbation. Ecological resilience research is mainly focused on conditions far from any stable steady-state, where instabilities can flip a system from one regime into another.  We want to know if the cod fishery is about to collapse.  We want to know whether the coral reefs will come back.  We want to know how low the Blue Hole can get before all the fish die.

Yesterday when I went to visit the Blue Hole had shrunk even more.  The fish have started to fight each other.  I guess crowding does that to any animal.  I hope you aren’t stuck in an apartment in a big city.  Or in a tin shack in a favela.  Or in a cardboard box on the street.


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