My road, which has probably been in existence and periodic use for 200 years, is narrow, gravel and 2.4 miles long. Since it cuts up Naked Mountain through a forest, trees line both sides of it from the beginning to the end. Invited guests that make it to the top are rewarded with spectacular views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and nice cup of tea (or something stronger) proffered by the lady who lives in the small gray one-story house on the ridge (that would be me). However, to reap the reward part of this journey you must be able to get up the road. This is not a problem on foot, but if you are driving, you may encounter a few problems. A common one is tree fall. See the August 23rd blog entitled “Stymied.”
To try and prevent the experience in “Stymied,” my good neighbor Steve suggested we cut down obviously dead trees that look like they could fall into the road. We set aside this past Saturday to do the work. Another friend, David, joined us. The captioned pictures below describe how the trees were selected and cut. Most of them were additionally cut into logs that can be split into firewood. We piled these next to the road for later pick up.
As I have decided, unlike some women in rural areas, I am not well-suited to use a chain saw, I took the opportunity, as we walked down the road to each tree site, to do another
road work task: grooming the sides of the road by cutting small saplings that will eventually impede travel by growing into trees. I probably cut 250 saplings of varying sizes with a pair of loppers and my sore forearm muscles are confirmation that I did.
We cut down a total of eight trees. As Steve cut the largest one, pictured here, an Eastern Screech Owl flew out of a hole in the tree. We were all sorry to have destroyed this owl’s home. But I am confident there are many more large dead hollowed out trees on Naked Mountain and that this owl will quickly find another home within its established territory.
I do not understand why these charming, small 8-9 inch reddish-brown owls are called screech owls. They do not screech. Their song is a pleasant descending whinny quite similar to a horse whinny. During mating season the song is often a monotone trill. You can download an audio recording of an Eastern Screech Owl from the Cornell Ornithology Lab here. You can see photos and read more about screech owls here:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_Screech_Owl.