Saturday, January 14, 2012

My Inheritance

One of the reasons for building a shed was to store lumber that I purchased from the folk's estate. We started with a platform of treated 4x4's and leveled them out, then screwed in pine 2x4's. And we ended up with a sturdy 6' x 12' area to work with.

The next day:

About 500 board feet of quarter sawed red oak, bur oak and a few boards I can't identify without planing first (sorry Sam, that's sad of me). Most of these boards were cut using a portable band saw that a neighbor of Dad's purchased. A lot of boards were cut from trees felled in Des Moines and Louisa counties with that band saw.

We then returned home to re-stack about 300 board feet of planed walnut and now I can almost walk to the back of my garage. That's because I have about 3-400 feet of some of the best cedar I have ever seen, a couple hundred feet of coffeebean and a few cherry, red elm and hickory boards to round out the inventory. Some of these boards will be stored at the shed, others at home. I'm almost out of lath and will have to start making sawdust again.

I've learned this past year how out of shape I am to begin my second career as a "farmer" but I don't think I've forgotten everything my dad taught me. I also called my broker to invest in pharmaceutical companies that produce topical creams and over-the-counter pain relieving medications. I think they are going to have a good year in 2012.

Dad reforested a few acres with hardwoods such as walnut, hickory, and bur oak along with a few white pines. I heard the new owners tore them out but I don't know for sure. Being less than 10 years old, the hardwoods could be removed fairly easily.

I do have some nuts from down home that we're going to plant down on the acreage. If they take root, then I'll be happy that something could be passed on to the next generation (so long as no one takes a dozer to them.) Bur oak from Dad's, and hickory and a few buckeye that came from a neighbor.

It looks like we'll be placing an order with the state nursery for a few hardwood trees soon. We are in the planning stages of what to get and where to plant them. But I think the wife is okay with the plan so far as it looks like I'll be removing some of the walnut trees and reducing the hay ground, our only cash crop.

If the plan holds out for 250-300 trees to be planted this spring, in forty to fifty years, maybe the sons can have a few stacks of hardwood boards of their own.


Crotalus (Don't Tread on Me) said...

That "coffeebean" wood you mentioned: would that be Kentucky Coffee Tree (Gymnocladus dioica)?

strandediniowa said...

You're right, Crotalus. Dad always referred to it as coffeebean.

These are native to Iowa but I never knew anyone besides our family who ever cut them into boards.

The grain reminds me of red oak, although a little wider, and it takes a router well without splintering. I made a narrow bookcase about 20 years ago that still looks good but I should give it another coat of oil finish soon.

I'd like to add a few to the acreage but I missed my chance to get some seed from the trees he cut.

David aka True Blue Sam said...

You want seed?! You will have it! Seeds are a lot easier to plant than seedlings, and most of the coffeetrees seeds seem to sprout on our place.

KY coffetree is a mighty fine shade tree, and it can be used for timber, too.

strandediniowa said...

That would be very much appreciated, Sam and would add to the history of the acreage. Much better than, "I bought this tree from Brand X nursery."

It's a good wood to work with and I wish I had more on hand. That and I'd like an actual shop to work in, too.

Hackberry and boxelder are a couple of other overlooked hardwoods. Dad made things out of each and I have a cedar lined chest made from boxelder that he made a year before he passed on.

I have several hackberry's in the SE corner of the acreage and I transplanted a few that sprouted in my garden from my neighbor's tree.

David aka True Blue Sam said...

The colors in boxelder make it a popular wood for novelty and decorative items, but it doesn't typically produce high quality logs that fit into the timber business. It is pretty much a hobbyist's wood. It is very important in its role as a trainer in young riparian hardwood forests. Boxelder pushes walnut trees straight up, and provides mid-level shade to encourage self pruning. It is also an important wildlife tree, providing food, and shelter in deteriorating, overmature trees.

Hackberry was tried by baseball bat manufacturers several years ago as a substitute for ash, but they had trouble with seasoning defects. I think they didn't have the right kiln schedule worked out, but they gave up on it. That's too bad, because ash may be disappearing as a commercial species because of the emerald ash borer. Hackberry feeds a lot of birds, and its wood is nearly as tough as elm.

strandediniowa said...

Thanks for filling in the blanks, Sam. We never got more than a couple\three feet long of good boxelder boards 6-8 inches wide and it tended to chip up when planed. It took a lot of work but the pieces he made with it look good.

He also made several pieces from honey locust and mulberry and tried anything once. If he liked how it looked, he'd get more, otherwise he always needed more lath. He had a load of 6' long catalpa that he never got a chance to use.

He liked to make big things like cabinets, tables or chests and give the scraps to the crafters. He would try just about any wood but preferred the oak varieties. Hard maple was like gold to him.

Crotalus (Don't Tread on Me) said...

I knew of the tree from summers as a kid in Kansas at Grandma & Grandpa's place. I started a seed not long ago, and now am trying the tree in Palm Desert, CA. It will get plenty of water, but the question is, will it stand up to the heat, as a well-watered Cottonwood can?

Trueblue, I may be bugging you for seed, too!

strandediniowa said...

Sam would be the expert.

According to the state site: "Found growing over the east central United States to eastern Nebraska and Kansas, it grows quite widely over Iowa as scattered individual trees or small groups of trees, in mixture with other species. It prefers rich bottomlands, but often is found on drier locations."

Wiki reports it to grow as far south as Louisiana and "Trees prefer a rich moist soil, such as bottom lands.[2] Its growth is largely unaffected by heat, cold, drought, insects, disease, road salt, ice, and alkaline soil."

But a real woodsman like Sam would know better than I.