Sunday October 11th 2020
We are well into October and while there are lots of brilliant fall colours in the area, here on the shore of Lake Huron most of the trees in the park are still fully green and holding on to their leaves. Just like in the spring the westerly breeze off the lake give a strong cooling effect in the fall the opposite happens as the breeze off the lake give a moderating effect preventing much of the frost that happens a few miles in from the shore. So we get very few brilliant fall colours through out the park, but there have been lots of leaves falling from the poplar trees, they do turn yellow but really don’t provide any brilliance.
In fact they are what we refer to them as a garbage tree, part of the willow family many people have planted them because of the rapid growth rate, in other words they provide quick shade, as compared to a maple tree. But they are a dirty tree as well, with leaves, and small branches falling off with every little breeze. And as we are removing them from the park they literally snap apart when they are cut down, and every few years when they seed they they produce what is called poplar fluff similar to the cottonwood tree which is also part of the willow family. Most of the poplars in the park are eastern poplar and can grow 100 feet tall and send out roots double that in a circumference from its base. Poplar wood falls in to the hardwood category but is the softest of the hardwoods, mainly used for skids, plywood, and pulp and paper. A very low value tree, a quick scan of the tree tops and you can see the poplars standing above the rest of the canopy.
We have a tree removal scheduled for the first of November, to remove as many of the poplars as possible, it will be an ongoing project for years to come as we have to work between the trailers throughout the park.
The lake waters are still warm compared to the air as se start to feel the freshness of the fall temperatures, it’s a crisp 3ºC (37ºF) this morning, and a quick look at the forecast shows rain for five of the next ten days with four of the days showing highs of only 9ºC (48ºF) and that takes us till the 20th of October. I guess we should be thankful there is no snow in the forecast but I’m pretty sure it’s not far away … just saying.
Another true sign of fall is the harvesting of the field crops by the farmers, this year the fields by the park where planted with soybeans, and today was the harvest day, the equipment is much larger than ours growing up as a kid in Oxford Centre, on the family dairy farm. And soybeans was never a crop of choice, as our farm supported our dairy herd, the crops were carefully rotated between silage corn, oats, hay and pasture to provide the majority of the feed base for the herd of Holsteins that produced the milk to provide our livelihood. Soybeans were not a crop that had any value to milk production, it was a crop that was just coming into its own as a food supplement for humans, we had seen experimental crops at the agricultural college in Ridgetown where our uncle was a professor and had a doctorate in soil conservation. And that was some fifty years ago they were trying to find soybean varieties that would grow well with good production in our Ontario climate. Most of soybean and corn production is carried out by what we referred to as cash cropping. And just as the name refers they plant it, harvest it, and sell it to the highest bidder. Most cash croppers have huge operations planting thousands of acres, most don’t own the land on which they plant their crops, they either just rent the land or share crop it with the land owners. The rental is simple it’s just so many dollars an acre, while the share cropping is a little more complicated with the cost of the land being a percentage of the harvest so the farmer and the land owner are both committed to seeing a bountiful harvest and both suffer losses when the crops are poor because of weather or growing conditions.
Either way they harvested the crop today and it made for a dusty afternoon as our normal on shore westerly breeze was an off shore easterly breeze today blowing the dust through the whole park … ah the joys of country living. But it happens just once a year and with the size of the equipment it happens quickly, just a few hours and they are off to the next farm.