Chick Farm has roughly 170 acres of forest. Our primary species are white pine, red maple, and red oak, with lesser numbers of many other species including yellow birch, white oak, red spruce, balsam fir, blackgum, hemlock, aspen, and black cherry. Our land features several springs, wetlands, and small streams, all part of the Branch Brook watershed, which is the public water supply for several of the surrounding towns. We take very seriously our responsibility to protect the quality of that water supply.
Our forests and fields support a diverse mix of wildlife, including deer, fox, coyote, ruffed grouse, moose, wild turkey, fisher, mink, woodcock, and snowshoe hare, as well as hawks, owls, and many kinds of songbirds. Once in a while we cross paths with a Black Racer snake, a large (4-8 ft) but harmless species that's endangered in Maine. Our woodlot narrowly missed a direct hit by Maine's infamous 1947 forest fires, but a smaller fire ten years later burned about half of the woodlot. The forest also shows the effects of many years of "high-grading", a logging practice that favors quick profits ("cut the best, leave the rest") over long-term forest improvement.
All that changed when we bought the farm from Marilyn's grandfather in 1992. Step one was to hire a licensed forester to survey the woodlot and write a Forestry Management Plan. The plan supports our management objectives, which are to:
Using the management plan as a guide, Rick does all the woods work himself, making good use of his many years of professional experience as a logger. During the winter months he cuts firewood, taking out the lower-quality trees and leaving the better specimens to grow. He also prunes the young white pines, removing the lower branches so that as the trees grow they will produce "clear" (knot-free) wood. Since Rick started working on the woodlot in 2000, we have seen a steady increase in the growth of young white pine (our primary target species for timber production) and a clear improvement in the quality of wildlife habitat. We have found that forestry is a lot like gardening, except with bigger crops and a much longer growing season!
We belong to the Small Woodland Owners of Maine (SWOAM) and the American Tree Farm System. In October 1999 Marilyn attended Yankee Woodlot Forestry Camp, a weeklong adventure in Lincolnville, Maine, sponsored by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, SWOAM, and the Maine Forest Service. She highly recommends it to anyone who has an interest in forestry and likes to spend time in the woods.