14 February 2008

Slaying the Pine, Hiking Part II

On the second day in the South Carolina swamp we decided to take a hike through my family's pine forest. Now, this farm was originally a slave plantation and has been in the family since it was deeded to us by the Lord Proprietor. I love the farm and the pine trees make it very pretty. There has been cotton and soybeans and corn planted over the years but at some point we switched to pine farming. Most of the land is covered in Slash Pines but the front field is reserved for my favorite, the Longleaf Pine.

Since Hewy not only wet her pants but also her shoes we started the hike by me carrying her about 1/4 of a mile to her car to find new shoes. I guess it would have been easier to get the shoes and bring them back to her but it wasn't as much fun as carrying her piggy back the whole way. Of course the last 20 yards I started to give out and when we arrived I promptly took a rest.

On the way to the pine forest we saw lots of American Robins. I love the way they can fill the sky. We also spotted a Cottontail Rabbit. At times we have large populations of rabbits and then the Bobcats come and the numbers are reduced. My father doesn't appreciate the Bobcats and often kills them when I'm not around. To him they are competition to his deer hunting and these so-called "wildcats" need to be low in number. We keep having talks about this and I hope one day he will decide to leave them in peace.

Once inside the rows of pine we all feel like we're in some Star Wars movie were the Ewoks live. It's beautiful under the trees and after awhile we find a dead pine that is almost fallen over. Now, I know the importance of keeping these dead snags upright but we couldn't help ourselves and decided to push it over. This one didn't have any sign of cavities or activity. Plus, there are many more snags inside the forest for the birds. This tree can be for the insects and fungus closer to the ground.

As you can tell we were quite proud of our muscles and it was the first time any of us have pushed over a tree. We continued the walk through an old cotton field. The cotton was well on its way to decomposition and the field was full of Broom Sedge. Last time I was home this area was covered in sparrows but nothing could be found today except a few cardinals on the perimeter. The one thing that we did notice was an aluminum chair stuck in an oak tree.

I'm not sure when this chair found itself inside this tree but over the years the tree has grown around it. Now removing the chair would prove impossible. I'm sure it was part of a deer stand at one time and now it is permanently a part of the trees landscape. After years of walking this path I can't believe this was the first discovery. You never know what you'll find when hiking the farm.

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