Locust Fence Part 3: Running out of Posts
Today’s post was going to be about setting the first locust posts in the pasture I’m building for our mules and horse….until I ran out of posts. So, back up the mountain I went in pursuit of locust. I found such a beauty, and was taken by how much life it contained, that I wanted to show you some photos of how a log become posts.
Life on a Locust Log
The best locust on farm grows on the ridge behind out house. It’s old growth forest, a mix of red and white oak, chestnut oak, red maple and some tulip poplar in the upper reaches of the coves.
The forest on our farm is considered the 4th Forest. That is, this is the fourth time the timber has been cut since the East Coast was settled by Europeans. The early harvest, at first the first 2, part of the third was done with oxen, mules and horses. The mature trees were felled and the smaller ones were left to grow.
That ended up when the era of mechanized timber started. Instead of hooves, it was treads that entered the forest. Treads of logging skidders, tractors and bulldozers. Now, instead of small patch cuts, whole mountainsides were harvested, in many cases, each and every merchantable tree on site.
This dramatically changed the mix of trees that grew back. Young trees that loved shade, like were disadvantaged. Light loving trees – like tulip poplars – thrived.
So did locust.
Locust is considered a pioneer species. That is, it is one of the first trees to grown back when the land is cleared.
So the last time the mountain behind our house was logged, probably around 1900, thousands of locust trees sprouted from seeds that lay dormant on the forest floor. In time, many decades later, they were outcompeted by the succession species, hardwoods like white and chestnut oak.
Most of these locust died when they were small. Some, outraced the competition to the sky. A very few, only a few per acre, survived to be 100 years old.
So it was with great respect that I fired up my chain saw and cut in to this beauty. It had been lying on the forest floor about 5 years. I was amazed how quickly the forest had moved to reclaim it, especially the bark layer. Luckily, locust wood is incredibly rot resistant. That’s why it’s so sought after for posts by some.
Here are some photos I thought you enjoy of Life on a Locust Log.
Life On a Locust Log
From Log to Posts
I’ve written before how I split locust posts and rails out of a locust log. Still, this one was so pretty and straight I just had to make a few photos. Locust is known to be incredibly cantankerous to split with a maul and wedges so I appreciate a straight-grained one when I find it.
Whew. Now I can get back to building that locust fence.