On a cold January Saturday last weekend, Audrey and I bundled ourselves and our dog into the car for a different-than-average date day.  The kids were both busy, so we set out on the first step of our mission to trace the origins of the wood that is being used to build our farmstand.

Foxbard Farm in Shelburne has been farmed since at least the 1700s, as evidenced by the make of some mule shoes found in one of their fields.  John Payne welcomed us into his well-maintained 1812 farmhouse to talk with us about the history of the farm and the timber management.  John’s parents purchased the property in the early 1940’s, when John was a child.  His father pruned off the lower branches of the pine trees, and thinned the stand to select for nice straight trees with a minimum of knots in the sawlog.  This level of careful forest stewardship is much less common now than it was then, which is perhaps not surprising, given that the benefit was realized a half-century later by the next generation who now has grandchildren!

The farm produces two main products: grassfed Angus beef, and timber.  The farm is close to 1000 acres, of which about a third has been placed into conservation restriction programs.  John’s hope is to have it all conserved before he dies.  John sent us down to the end of “the Long Mowing,” a long hayfield that stretched along the contour of a hillside.  We walked through the woods, admiring the many huge pine trees still remaining, along with the flawless sawlogs stacked by the road, ready to be taken to the mill where some of them will become timbers for our farmstand structure.  We took great pleasure to meet this friendly and thoughtful steward of the land, and felt honored to be part of our local web of sustainable land managers that extends not just over to Shelburne, but back in time as well.

Now those are some nice looking pine trees!

Scout appreciated the careful stewardship
which has produced plenty of sticks in this woodlot
The view up “The Long Mowing” with some nice pine logs ready for pickup

Jeremy with a nice looking white pine

  “The Long Mowing” extends north from the farmhouse; it seems even longer on a map than it does driving by, but I’m sure that the guys picking up hay bales know just how long it is!