Women's Chainsaw Safety Class

by Barb Spears

The Metro Area and Northeast chapters of the Minnesota Women’s Woodland Network co-sponsored a women’s chainsaw safety class on March 18.  The class was taught by chainsaw safety instructor and logger, Alex Bildeaux of Bildeaux Services. 

This full-day class covered chainsaw basics such as proper personal protective equipment, how to purchase a saw, chainsaw handling and safety techniques, basic chainsaw maintenance and included a tree felling demonstration. 

Through a pre-class questionnaire, women cited many reasons for taking this class including building confidence in using a chainsaw for cutting firewood, clearing brush/invasive species, storm cleanup, trail clearing, and chainsaw maintenance. 

Twenty female woodland owners, including a few women who don’t own land but are interested in woodland management, attended the class.   Many others had to be turned away because the class was full!  Women came from all over including as far as Waseca to the south and Cloquet to the north with the majority from the Metro Area.  The women represented approximately 920 acres of land ranging from less than one acre to 225 acres with an average of approximately 61 acres.  There were family members (grandmother/daughter/grandchild, sisters), co-workers, partners, old friends and now new friends.  This was the first chainsaw safety class that Alex has taught with a 5-month old future woodland owner in the class!

The class was held in the brand new geodesic dome classroom at the Women’s Environmental Institute (WEI) in North Branch.  The WEI is an environmental research, renewal and retreat center that includes a house where the class enjoyed lunch and networking. 

Funding support for this class was provided by the MN Women’s Woodland Network (mnwwn.org) through a grant from the MN Department of Natural Resources, and from the MFRC East Central Landscape Committee. 

Tap into Spring. Tap into Conservation.

by Julie Miedtke

Maple season signals the end of winter and is truly the first sign of spring.  For some landowners, maple season provides a special opportunity to be outdoors, make a special, natural product and strengthens ties to our land.

We have a small sugarbush on our land, and our operation can be described as ‘low tech and high touch’. We have only a few taps (25-30), hang jugs from the spiles and use a simple evaporator to produce a few gallons of syrup. For a short time, maple season occupies our lives and alters our lifestyle with everything evolving around the trees.  We check the buckets before running errands, naturally the laundry piles up and ‘the mud room’ lives up to its name. We seriously think about the weather and smile when freezing-thawing temperatures will have us on the run collecting and processing sap. Generally finishing the syrup comes a little later, when we aren’t so rushed.

I really love maple season because I am out there, close to the trees. Honestly, my brain fills with questions about what is going on in the sugarbush and I find myself waking up at night with thoughts of trees, sap flow and wondering what the day will bring. With each day in the sugarbush, I find myself relaxing, breathing easier, and I enjoy having uninterrupted conversations with family and friends. It’s cool standing over the evaporator with the steam rising into the air and getting a daily ‘maple facial’.  And I enjoy drinking a cup of hot “maple tea” scooped directly out of the evaporator pan while tending the fire warms the spirit.  Time flies as you simplify and focus on your life and the natural world around you.

Maple season brings us full circle as we collect sap from trees on our land, create a healthy, natural product that sustains us.  It always reminds me of this intimate, primal understanding that I am NOT just out in the woods, but I am actually part of nature. I am part of the web of life and it is not digital and has zero gigabytes.  This annual rite of spring, the making maple syrup, elicits the spirit of conservation.  As a landowner, I find myself asking questions on what can I can do to improve our maple stand, how can I improve habitat for wildlife? How can I help our land become more resilient during climate change? It calls to me one gallon at a time.

Native Prairie, Honey Bees & Pollinators

by Jan Bernu

On September 10, Darla Van Heerde of Esko hosted the MN Women's Woodland Network-NE fall event: Native Prairie, Honey Bees & Pollinators. Darla showed us around her 40 acres on a gorgeous fall day. With lots of hard work and the assistance of various entities, Darla has created a beautifully blended mixture of orchards, gardens and native prairie with a variety of pollinator plants, as well as a pond for wildlife and some wooded acreage. She is also a bee keeper with 10 hives. At the end of the tour, she treated us to a glass (or two!) of her delicious homemade elderberry flower lemonade and carrot salsa.

NE WWN Fall Event. Buckthorn ID & Hands-on Control Methods

On October 24, 2015, Northeast WWN member Peggy Meseroll hosted a buckthorn removal event on land that she manages. Gail Bong, NRCS Technician, gave a “Buckthorn 101” talk and they hacked and chemmed a good sized area, and prescribed follow-up to kill the seedlings before they turn into seed bearing trees.  They used Buckthorn Blasters: http://landscape-restoration.com/, a great little tool for the homeowner/landowner.  Buckthorn control/eradication takes a lot of hard work followed by many years of dedicated follow up to keep it at bay.  

Peggy made amazing gumbo that she shared withus afterwards!  Buckthorn busting and great food with fantastic woods women.  It doesn't get any better than that!

Massage in the Woods and Goods from the Woods!

On August 29, 2015, Gail Bong (WWN NE) hosted “Massage in the Woods and Goods from the Woods – Show & Tell, Buy & Sell”. The outdoor massages, provided by Certified Massage Therapist Eric Bong, were greatly enjoyed by several WWN NE members. Some of the women brought "Hand Crafted Goods for Show & Tell, Buy and Sell”. Darla VanHeerde brought delicious Elderade that she made from Elderberry flower syrup and lemons. She also brought honey, lip balm, and lotion bars from the bees that she keeps at her  home business, and shared the very fun story of why she named her farm “Pants Mary Apiary.”  Sue Smith (Stoneybrook Farms) brought Pickled Milkweed pods, Highbush Cranberry jelly, and Wild Raspberry jelly, and Gail made Sumac juice, Chokecherry jelly and Elderberry jelly. Show & Tell Woods Crafts included baskets made from Red pine needles, and jewelry made from local rocks, bear claws and teeth, and porcupine needles. Dried, pressed, and framed plants and flowers were on display, too.   

Happy Woods Women!  Photo credit:  Gail Bong

Happy Woods Women!  Photo credit:  Gail Bong

Garden Gurus!  Photo credit:  Gail Bong

Garden Gurus!  Photo credit:  Gail Bong

Goods from the Woods.  Photo credit:  Gail Bong

Goods from the Woods.  Photo credit:  Gail Bong

Goods from the Woods.  Photo credit:  Gail Bong

Goods from the Woods.  Photo credit:  Gail Bong

Goods from the Woods.  Photo credit:  Gail Bong

Goods from the Woods.  Photo credit:  Gail Bong

Goods from the Woods.  Photo credit:  Gail Bong

Goods from the Woods.  Photo credit:  Gail Bong

Bee Talk and Woods Walk

On June 26, 2015, Metro Area MNWWN member Debra Donath, along with husband Kent, hosted us to learn about honey bees. We were also able to tour her 23-acre property near Welch to learn about their land management practices involving tree planting of white pine, oak, and walnut and their two prairie restoration sites.   

Goats for brush control. How about hogs?

At our Metro Area MNWWN gathering in October 2014, we discussed this topic.

Goats are being used in MN on many projects.  Here is a link to a local SE MN company that rents their goats for buckthorn and other vegetation management needs:  http://goatdispatch.com/. 

Also, check out these links for more information on this topic:

Timber Sale - the Nuts and Bolts on an Active Job Site

Northeast MNWWN and Peggy Meseroll Host a Tour of an Active Timber Harvest by Jan Bernu, MNWWN Northeast

On February 28th, the MN Women’s Woodland Network (MNWWN)-NE local network sponsored a tour of an active timber harvest at the Maki Family LLC property near Esko, MN.  Peggy Meseroll, MFA Board Member and member of the WWN-NE local network, and her sister Mary are members of the Maki family and hosted this tour.  Jan Bernu, Two By Forestry consulting forester and contracted forester for the Maki family, led the tour and discussion on “Private Timber Sale Nuts & Bolts Basics.”  Jan is also leading the WWN-NE group and arranged this tour.  There were 12 participants, including 3 from the Metro Area MNWWN, who braved the cold temperatures to learn about timber sales, timber harvesting and woodland management. 

Bell Timber bought the Maki timber sale, which is currently being harvested by No Sweat Logging.  The participants were actually able to observe an active cut-to-length harvesting operation and received on- site information regarding the active timber harvest.  The Makis’ are thinning their pine stands to enhance the health and growth of the pine.  The pine wood products include pulpwood, sawbolts/logs and telephone poles.  They are also cutting some of the aspen to further enhance wildlife habitat for early successional wildlife species.  This harvest will not only provide income from various timber products but enhances forest health and wildlife habitat. 

Image by Ginger Kopp

Image by Ginger Kopp

Image by Gail Bong

Image by Gail Bong

Image by Barb Spears

Image by Barb Spears

Image by Barb Spears

Image by Barb Spears

Image by Barb Spears

Image by Barb Spears

Image by Ginger Kopp

Image by Ginger Kopp

Original invitation: 

What: Timber Sale – the Nuts & Bolts on an active job site by Jan Bernu, Consulting Forester & acting forester on this job site

When:  Feb 2015 - TBD but hopefully sometime this month – might even be as soon as next weekend (21st)

Where: Maki Family LLC land just north of the city of Esko - Peggy Meseroll & her siblings’ property

Peggy and her siblings are harvesting some timber on their property this winter.  She has graciously agreed to allow us to come over and see their timber sale in progress.  However, I still need to get permission from the logger that they’re OK with having a group on or near the active site with all of the running equipment and trucks, etc.  Also, loggers’ schedules are often fairly last minute so this will be last minute if we can do it.  If possible, you will need a hard hat – I do have some hard hats but if anyone has one, you will need to bring it or let me know if you’ll need one.  You’ll also need to dress for the weather as this will be an outdoor gathering.