I promised pix and observations and here we go!
This is our newest baby forest, a grouping of volunteer pine trees of various sizes/ages. We have no idea why, or how they started growing there, in this bit of poor soil to the back of the land. In the background, you can see the mostly birch “protoforest” that was beginning when we got here. At that time, in 2008, most of the “trees” were barely taller than I was. Now they are much taller, enough so that many sustained damaged in the recent wind storms. More about that later.
When I am in the back field, I always keep an eye open for more little volunteers. When resetting the sheep pasture fence, I spotted one small one, less than a foot tall, that appeared to have been killed over winter. I had not previously marked it and it was quite a ways from the rest of the “herd” if one can say trees come in herds. While I was pulling electric fence wire, I noticed this new arrival, a bit farther east and literally at the edge of the proto-forest. Welcome, little tree! You have been noted.
Farther along, I was regarding the damage from the wind storms at closer range and considering what, if anything, we humans might need to do to help. I know I will never make a living in forestry; my first response to anything like this situation is to ask the trees! Their response, when asked yesterday, was “Wait. Be patient. We will show you <how it’s done>.” And they are. I am not sure how or why these toppled branches, laying on the ground, are budding, but they are. And now I am paying attention! And curious as heck. I wonder if this will be a short-lived push, fueled by energy stored in the branches or if they are in a sense “hanging on by a thread,” with a bit of living tissue still connected to the trunk and to the earth from which they are supplying themselves with nutrition. And I wonder, in the long run, will these branches, while they are living thusly, if they are, layer themselves… putting down roots and becoming their own tree. As the trees have said, only time will tell!
The proto-forest is also the home of our crab apple tree, which now has one limb quite nicely at a height to be raided by this human, and another higher up, for other creatures to feed upon.
Next to it is a shrub that I do not recognize. I took pix of both the leaves, up close and personal, and what appear to be either unopened buds or seed pods. I was thinking pods at first, but a bit of exploration with a “surgery needle” (sewing sharp that I use to remove splinters) under my magnifier shows white bits that resemble the petals of unopened flowers more than anything else, so once again, wait and see! It is not a pussy willow, as I picked a bit from one of them for comparison. Take a guess, folks!