In the 1970's, we were in partnership with the farm next to ours raising beef cattle. Electric rates were going up, and cattle prices were falling. Our partner on the adjoining farm retired and sold his property. Firewood prices were rising, turning our interest more towards trees. Raising trees has a much larger window of opportunity for planting, weeding, and harvesting than say a corn crop. Since I worked at least forty hours a week off the farm, we found we needed that window. We read an article about reforestation in "Progressive Farmer" magazine, May 1979, by Karl Wolfshohl, and decided to try growing trees. In 1980, we planted pine trees on 25 acres. In 1987, we called our county forester due to gypsy moth mortality in our hardwoods. Phil Pannill, DNR Forester, made a forest management plan for us, and that is pretty much how we got started.
Don attended the Coverts Workshop (now called the Maryland Woodland Stewards project) and learned much valuable information there. We've attended many forestry seminars and tried to learn as much as we could on how to manage our forests. We enjoy working with natural resources professionals and foresters. Most of the time, they give us new ideas and better ways to do things.
We wanted to increase the wildlife populations and make some money on our investment. In fact, the biggest improvement in our woods would be the increase in wildlife populations.
In forty years, the lessons we've learned would fill a book. Well, one lesson would be that a pine thinning always looks like too many pines were removed but in two years, you can never tell any trees were removed at all. The pines definitely respond to the thinning. Another hard lesson learned is to never plant tree seedlings in grass.
Think about what you want from your land, talk to a forester, get a plan and get started. Trees take a lot longer to mature than a corn crop. We found it easy to get started; my grandfather was a farmer (plow and cows), so we look at trees as another crop and really enjoy working with them.