Well, it didn't seem like a very exciting week this time around, but I'll try to make it seem like it was. We started the week doing a block that required a 3.6 km walk in (that's the one that we had to helicopter the trees into last week). We did some dressing up and hit some ugly land. Read on for the particulars....
Alex's crew may not be able to win a boat race, but we can sure...er...yeah.
T decided it was dress up day this week, so everyone aquired a frilly little number to plant in for a day. It's hard to believe, but all thirteen crew members threw in their two bucks at the church basement and acquired themselves a planting gown. Wow, what a fearsome sight! It was far too cold that day for justdresses until the very end of the day. Sadly I was so involved with crew bossing duties by then to take any pictures, so I'll leave that to your imagination.
What are the chances that we would be visited on the block by our own Quality assessor, one of our client's assessors and the MNR all on dress day? The odds are mind boggling, and at the end of the day I'm still not sure who were more embarrassed, them or us. Still, make hay while the sun shines, right? So we played up our sex appeal with the quality folk and, surprise, surprise, we got the stamp of approval.
Alex, Josie & Anna pose with Pat, the Quality Guy.
But the good land couldn't last forever. Our next block saw this year's crop of rookies exposed to their first ugly unscarified. Unscarified land is land that has not been prepared for planting. It means that after the cut nature is simply allowed to take its course for several years, which means that we very often end up reforesting terrain that already looks very much like a... well, forest. Let's just say the experience was a bit of a shock.Where's the smile now, Lefty?
This particular block was not raked very well either. Raking is where the cutters drag the unused portion of their cuts to the roadsides where they form unplantable slash piles. When the slash is left in the block it makes the terrain less plantable, as Luke is discovering.Luke vs. the Slash. No contest.
Watch me check tree quality in this labyrinth of slash and poplar in this short VIDEO CLIP (approx. 20 MB Download).
Even when the land is scarified the remaining slash can form near impeneterable barriers. Leaving the land for years after scarification is also a good way to ugly up the land, and the two together make for less than happy planters. But cheer up guys! Good land is just over the next hill, I swear!Megan and the planting obstacle course.
After all the planters have been assigned lots in a block, and after a thorough quality sweep has been done to ensure the trees are going in properly, the next duty of the crewboss is to scout the land ahead. Crewboss Kate and I decided to suss out a large landlocked unscarified pocket to see how we would tackle it. The only way in to the block was a 1.5 km long winter road -that is, a road that is useable in winter with four feet of compacted snow over it, but otherwise doesn't look much like a road at all.
Kate's prognosis on using the winter road for access: Thumbs Down.
A kilometre and a half is a long way to walk to bag up trees, and a very long way to carry fifty pound bins of trees in. Essentially it is necessary at least to get a four-wheeler (quad) into a block or it is unplantable without the use of a helicopter. However, since our pocket would only take about eight thousand trees a helicopter wouldn't really be a very economical answer. In the end we decided that this portion of the block was not feasible and it had to be cut.
Alex stands in the winter road. Literally.
Some camp wildlife: this little unwanted visitor was tame enough to let me pick him up and put him in a box. I think it might be time for some traps or maybe a camp cat....Gaw, he's so cute! Too bad he eats our food and poops in everything....
This is my tent set up. It's on a pile of pine needles that we suspect was left from the coners (people who gather pine cones for money). It is a very soft base and, because it was slowly composting away beneath the surface, extremely warm at the beginning of the season. So when the snow was falling and everyone was shivering, I was warm and snug in my ground-heated habitat. I was a bit leery that I would be sweated out when the air temperatures started to rise, but the composting reaction has really pittered out lately. In mid May you could not stick your hand six inches beneath the surface and hold it there because of the heat, but now it's not warm at all. There go my dreams of heating my future house by stuffing the basement with compost....
Alex's temporary dwelling.
A temporary dock made of timbers salvaged from the block and whatever was laying around camp make an ideal causeway over leach infested waters to the refreshing open water beyond.
It's a dock.
And the award for best staff meeting attendance goes to....SHEPPERS! I guess you just can't teach an old dog new tricks. At first Shep came out to the block every day with me, but it was just too much running for a dog of her age, so now we've fallen into an every other day schedule. When she's not on the block she can almost always be found on the office couch. Staff members stand or squat on the floor through meetings because she's simply too big to be moved. She's docile enough to sit on, but nobody seems to want to try their luck.
What a good dog!
Finally we took a (relatively) normal looking crew shot! From left to right we have on top: Van Damm & Luke. Standing on the hood: Sunshine, Megan & Shannon. Sitting on the hood: the Tweedles. Standing in front: Crew Boss Alex, T, Giver & C-Bass.
The Rabid Sasquatch Commandos pose with their flag.
What a crazy looking bunch, eh? Stay tuned for the continuing adventures of the Rabid Sasquatch Commandos!