Friday, December 18, 2009

Monarch of the Forest

Nineteenth century farms included not just farm fields but also woodlots and forest. Ours at The Farmers’ Museum does as well. This farm has been used for about 180 years. Some of our current forest stands where once sheep pastured in the 1840’s.

You can see a legacy of that by the existence of this massive White Pine. This king of the forest started life in an open field! You can tell that by the open spacing of the branches, the twin trunk and how it grew outward instead of upward. That happens to trees growing in full sunlight that do not have to compete with other trees for sun. You can also see its great girth when compared to the size of a person.
This massive tree sprouted in a pasture’s edge and quickly grew too big for the sheep to eat. It grew upward and outward into a large spreading pine. We know sheep and cattle were grazed on this hill, and they likely took advantage of its shade. At some point in the last century a new fence was built about 100 feet away. Saplings sprouted, and a new forest grew up around this mature tree. You can see it is now bracketed by trees that may themselves be fifty or more years old.

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