A few weekends ago for those of you who follow us on Instagram and Facebook may have seen me posting about us taking out some of our cedar trees. I had a few comments on why we were doing this so I thought I would give a few reasons why we want to take out most of our cedar trees in the next few months.
We make our living off the land so we have to manage that land to make it the most productive it can be for the long-term, long-term being (hopefully) the rest of our lives…and even after. Cedar trees, which can take over your property in a matter of five to fifteen years, are viewed as a constant threat to the long-term production of any farm.
Today the cedars look like harmless little trees. But left unchecked, those little trees will eventually produce thousands of seeds and spread across the property like wildfire. As they get bigger and more populous, they will eventually shade out the grassland and crowd out the better varieties of trees. I’ve seen many pastures where cedars have completely taken over an area, reducing the grazing capacity by seventy to eighty percent. Now, that would be a more extreme case.
For our property, cedar trees were brought in as a decorative accent to a new property, why the contractor chose to do this I will never truly know. As a residential property, this space isn’t usually used as pasture so I’m sure the thought did cross their minds, but it does for us as one day I hope we will be able to house a beef cow of our very own on our crated pasture.
In more populated areas, cedar trees can also pose a great fire hazard since they burn so quickly and so hot. In more isolated areas like ours, fire can actually be a useful tool in controlling the spread of cedars. Not to mention that cedar trees are one of the favoured homes for insects that like to bite, mosquitos being one of the main ones and I for one would much rather have a bonfire that doesn’t have to be immediately followed by a bath in calamine lotion.
The best way is to handle cedars is to just cut them down. As long as you cut them below the very bottom branch, the tree should not grow back. This is really easy to do with just a good pair of tree trimmers/pruners when the trees are small. However, as they get larger I like to use a good hand saw, or as Kevin prefers his chainsaw. It doesn’t take long to cut through a tree and it’s actually pretty good exercise. Our trees are only about as large as a pop can but are still about 15-20 feet tall. I feel like a mocho lady that can do anything when it is easy for me to move this huge looking tree and lift it over my head to place on a pile (insert moment to kiss muscles).
Cedar trees also absorb a great deal of water, which robs the land and water sources of their water supply. In a normal year, this is not as much of a problem. But during dry years it can really hinder grass production, which is ultimately what you hope to have when you intend to keep livestock.
The only good thing I can say about cedars is that they do burn well, who can argue with a full day of hard work improving your land for future use and sustainability. To sit down after a home cooked meal and with family and friends and enjoy an evening of festivities around a great smelling bonfire.