Everyone – at least those in the fracking lands – knows that a landman (land-man, no ess) – is the person who goes out and negotiates land leases for oil and gas outfits.
But a landsman (with the ess) is a different critter and one of the few places I’ve seen signs for such folks is on land they are managing in Texas.
This is not an urban career. It’s a specialized deal that involves knowing everything there is to know about land in a particular geographical area, right down to which timber company will give top dollar for harvested trees if there are many to be had.
Here lately, I’m been doing a ton of “landsman” work around our place and I thought I’d share some of it because it’s pretty danged interesting.
Yesterday’s appointment my ass had with the tractor involved neatly bush hogging 5-acres, or so, of the south 16.
Readers with not much real rural time may be appalled that we do such things but the fact is that if you have brush much higher than ankle-height, or so, you get some of the meanest, nasty’s: The spiders which include scorpions, the snakes (cotton mouth, coral, and copperheads) plus an assortment of “other.”
After running goats on the land for about five years, they’d done a marvelous job of pretty much eating everything in sight. So once we sold of the herd of 30-odd, it fell to Ures truly to keep things down to where the goals had left it.
Part of the job is mowing and the other part is picking up “deadfall” and the leftovers from previous “limbing up.”
One reader asked my we don’t simply bury the wood, but that’s easier said than done. When oak or ash trees are less than six months down, they tend to spring up. Hickory? OMG, one damn tough wood. So the size of the hole required is HUGE.
For the larger straight sections, sure. We have a site on the west 12 where I’ve buried about 8 tall pines (18+ inch diameter) and buried them. 30 foot long, 5-feet deep. A foot or two of dirt mounded over.
But in real world land management, burying large lengths of trees has to be done with some caution. It provides an ideal habitat for things like rabbits. But, soon as the rabbits come in, so do the snakes.
Want a termite farm near your home?
The good news is that with the snakes came out family of hawks. Elaine was out in the yard taking pictures Thursday as I was mowing and spied my “helper”:
This hawk had a wonderful time because of how I bush hog the field for them.
I begin by running a double line – call it 8-feet wide – of cutting down toward the creek.
Then I go up to the top of the property and zig-zag my way down the gentle slope.
The hawks had a field day! They must have gotten a dozen of so geckos (we call them “insurance salesmen,” right Warren? lol), one 14-inch snake, and a few other things. Their nest is around the 70 foot level of a big tall pine so the food delivery service was on for the kids as I literally beat the brush for food for them.
While Elaine was up checking on the garden, she also snapped a good picture of one of our other “helpers” around here: A woodpecker who to give you a sense of scale, is seen here holding on to a 4-by-4 holding up the fence corner:
This guy didn’t hang around the garden long, but was off to a nearby pine tree where a bark beetle, or some-such, got his attention.
With a gusty north wind kicking up at times over 20 miles an hour, I cut the burning short. It will resume Saturday morning after Peoplenomics is posted when winds for the whole day ought to be under 5-MPH.
I should explain that the “limbing up” which results in these branches is not just an exercise in landsmanship for the fun of it, though it does open up the property and let’s you see “who’s coming…”
Rather, it’s real role is fire suppression. There are two kinds of fires out in the woods. There’s a ground fire which burns the brush down low. A “real” forest fire is when the canopy takes off and the fire begins to spread tree-to-tree without touching the ground. “Crowning” it’s called.
When you limb up 8-15 feet from the ground, the odds of a fire getting up into the crowns decreases a good bit. And like I said, it looks pretty damn good as evidenced by this view from the top of our front yard looking south to the portion of the field I mowed Thursday:
The wee bit of low smoke you see (lower right) give you an idea how little the fire size was.
There’s a ton more to it. In fact, I’ve got Oilman2’s son coming out in a few weeks to make us a bid on doing more clearing and mowing. The back 12 could use a good clean-out this year and it’s worth it to find the young and strong.
Armed with the right degrees, he’s building out the OM2 farmstead about 30 miles south of us. And for occasional articles on the more rural side of life, don’t overlook the www.ruralpioneer.com (tm) where he’s been kind enough to post some of his works in progress as well as some notes from around here.
I looked for a simple “Landsman Basics” ebook and I don’t see much on Amazon that would apply. Oh, sure, you can find gobs and oodles of “property management” books, but other than tax planning, depreciation off into the sunset, and ROI’s versus inflation versus other uses of money…sure there’s that all over the place.
But in keeping with our observation that people have become “virtualized” the real “landsman stuff” – like how to sharpen a chain saw blade by hand, or using a machine….or tricks to faster on-off cycling of your 3-point implements… even basics like “What are the major categories of three-point hitches?” None of that.
Sure, you work most of it out by yourself usually. But that’s the kind of real “owning real land” that is different than living in a city with a small manicured green postage stamp for a yard.
It’s a matter of time and effort. Having had a “postage stamp” before (9,500 SF yard) it was almost impossible to spend more than an hour a week on it. And that included weeding, fertilizer, edging – the whole thing.
You become a landsman by default when doing a good job on less than 20 percent of your land is an all day affair.
You evolve a sense of what Nature has planned and then try to work with that.
For example, there’s one part of the property where we have China-berry trees. Damned if I can find a use for them, so down they go. Nature figured it would be nice, but we get into disagreements once in a while. Me, the tractor and a cup of diesel usually win.
Same thing with goat weed, though 10-gallons of diesel. Need a few bushels of organic goal weed leaf?
Worth all the effort and more to come? You can see where I left off Thursday and where this morning’s “seat time” will resume… The far left is what the rest looked like “before.”
I am sure some citified environmentalists will be upset. “Why you’d be doing the Earth a huge favor by just leaving things alone, you in-sensitive lout!”
Odds are near-zero that the enviro’s would notice the tree in the middle right of the picture is our Catalpa tree – which produces some of the best fishing worms in the world around its base.
So, no, city slickers. There is more going on with landsman work than meets the eye.
For example, there is goat weed mixed in a good bit of that rough. In this county that’s a “noxious weed” and all it takes is a complaint and next thing you know here comes an order to clear and pesticides and….
But this is the kind of disconnect we see all the time out here. People in the city trying to tell us rural folks how to live and – how to manage our land.
Thanks, but we’ll work it out. We’ll leave the Big City life to the city folks, but in return, leave the farming (even if it’s tree farms, like ours) to the farmers.
Write when you get rich – and a few more pix Monday as the Great Land Clean-Up continues…