Well, we had some more dead trees made into lumber for the cabin. The biggest one that you see in the picture that we are sitting on was 24" across, 16' long, and 5' 6" around at the base. We had one that was a little bit bigger, at 26" across and 5' 10" around. We hated to lose these trees, but we were glad for the lumber. These were killed by pine beetles, as opposed to the others we used that came down in the ice storm. We are currently trying to clean up all the dead pine brush that is still everywhere from the ice storm that serves at their breeding grounds. Apparently, these destructive beetles nest in the downed limbs and other dead wood over the winter, laying their eggs before they die. When the new beetles emerge in the spring, they feed on the layer between the bark and the tree, thus killing the tree because the bark then just falls off. From there, they continue to spread to any other pines in contact with the dead one. They progress in this way until you lose every pine on your place.
We lost seven trees this year to these beetles. This comes in addition to the ones lost in the ice storm and the seven we lost to pine beetles several years ago when they got so bad in this area. We have wondered how many of the trees we lost in the ice storm might have been already weakened by the beetles when they came down. We will never know for sure, but we are sure of the fact that if we don't get this dead stuff cleaned up and burned, we are likely to lose the rest of these big pines we have left. This we cannot bear to have happen, of course, so we have been burning brush for almost 2 weeks straight, with only a couple of days lost due to rain. Our goal is to have every stick of dead pine on this place burned before spring.
This is, of course, in addition to the work we have of building our cabin. We are shooting very hard to be dried in by Christmas so that we can at least camp out in it and get out of this little camper trailer. Then we can work on the inside through any kind of weather through the winter as well as burning up the brush that is so threatening to our remaining trees. We will take in the tops of the trees that were too small for sawing into lumber, yet still larger than brush, into the mill to be sold for chipwood. This doesn't bring us much money, but it helps (especially since I have still been unable to get work).
We will continue to keep you updated on our progress. Wish us luck!