Use of the Forest

Public use of Saginaw Forest is encouraged. Rules for the public's use include (but are not limited to):

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Surveying the property

Old fence along boundary line
Today I talked with the surveyor on the property. I found him out on the SE corner of Third Sister Lake, surveying the PALL/Saginaw Forest property line. It was an interesting thing to learn about a little bit of the property, and surmise upon the history of certain artifacts in the area. For example, I thought that the location we were standing on was actually inside Saginaw Forest; it was, after all, covered by trees. However, looking around, he pointed out the old fence that was trampled. Using that as the reference point, it became more simple to see where the Saginaw Forest property stops: it's where the tree-type changes from tall pines to not-tall not-pines.

He had placed the prism pole in a steel pole sticking just out of the ground, possibly something that was used in an earlier survey of the lands. He told me there was a similar post in the pavement on Wagner Road, marking the center point of the larger section of land (Saginaw Forest is 80 acres, and is therefore two quarter-quarter sections or an eighth-section) that happens to include First and Second Sister lakes.

Similarly, we talked about the path of Liberty Road in this part of Washtenaw County: where it changes from a city road to a county road. Why does it - before becoming an east-west road - cut through the SE corner of Saginaw forest? He surmised that it was a compromise in planning to connect an east-west road to a non-cardinal road. Looking at a map of the region, it becomes easier to see how the original parcels in the region likely lay, with Liberty Road cutting through the four parcels between Saginaw Forest and I-94 (it takes a little bit of squinting to see where those four parcels used to be).

Cold day today

Today has been a cold day: 25F/-4C at 2pm. There's a little bit of snow falling, but not enough to actually cause any problems. The wind's been steady and carries with it a bite of chill that pierces through you. I kind of feel sorry for the surveyor, having to stand in the cold for hours on end, just next to the totally exposed quarter of Third Sister Lake.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Weather cooling... and land surveyors in the forest

The weather has turned back toward actual weather we might expect during the winter months of January/February. The water in the creek is still flowing, and it reached a crescendo at some point yesterday afternoon; the overflow sheeting over the iced lake surface.

Also, this week, surveyors will be in the forest, doing some siting for a future plan of a walkway over the wetlands to the east end of Third Sister Lake.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

No new mice in the trap

Last week I forgot to check the live trap and after looking into it, I realized that there were two dead mice inside. Well... one dead mouse, and the heavily gnawed upon (and mostly eaten) remains of one dead mouse. However, after disposing of these two dead mice (and the dead mouse from the previous day) and washing out the trap, I have not caught any more mice. Perhaps the three mice that I threw out were the same mice that I had previously been catching over-and-over again. Hopefully, therefore, no other rodents are likely to find the way into the house that these mice used. I'm leaving the trap out, just in case. (Either that, or I used to have up to seven mice - the total number that had been caught.)

Drizzles overnight = a bit of snowmelt happening

January snowmeltI noticed this morning the characteristic *ping-pang* of rain hitting the chimney cap of the gas stove. I had seen the weather forecast say that the rain was supposed to come down today, and had started a little earlier than it was supposedly going to happen. The weather forecast for the rest of today calls for possible thunderstorms, too! (If I hear that happening, I'll try and take some photos.)

Melting lakeThe rain cleared off the remnants of the snow covering the (I'm sure) ever-shrinking layer of ice. The coloring of the ice is now a nice light gray-blue.

Snowmelt disappearing into the snow
The interesting thing is that - unlike what happened during the torrential downpours of Christmas day - there isn't enough rain and snowmelt to saturate the stream. Indeed, the water slowly flowing down the streambed slowly disappears into the sandy ground, and (at least at the time when I took the photo) none of the water was reaching the lake's icy surface.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Updating past log entries: 2006

I am now going through the entries from the caretakers who were here from 2006-2008. I am moving through those more slowly than the previous ones, mainly because they were more prolific writers (good job guys).

For some reason, there were several gaps between caretakers (1988, 1993-1995, 1995-1999, and 1999-2006). I just suppose that they weren't as interested in writing in a journal. (Truth be told, if it wasn't for the online nature of my writing, I would not be writing. Indeed, it even took me 3 months to start writing.)

Definitely the ability to use photos and video has given me more incentive to add my own touch to the history of Saginaw Forest.

Updating past log entries: 1990 & 1991

Finished updating past records from 1990 and from 1991.

Chopped some wood

Chopped woodDuring the tree-thinning process, a lot of trees were cut into pieces, the logs deposited on the side of the road. The work left a lot of timber, and - due to future wood need - I decided to cut one of the logs into manageable pieces which will then be cut into firewood.

Before doing this, I needed to purchase a sledgehammer for this to be made more simple (the 3lb and 4lb single-hand hammers were a little too light-weight). I settled on purchasing a 6lb two-handed sledgehammer from Stadium Hardware, and another log-splitting wedge.

Cutting up that log was a bit of work, especially since it was about 4 ft in length, and splitting it required a lot of work in driving in the wedges, but after one hour, I was able to split the log three times and then transport the lot back to the barn. I'll cut them up further with the chainsaw - into 1ft lengths - later, and then chop those pieces up into smaller wedges of wood.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Above the melting point

We've reached melting-point, and the icy powder that's been lying on the ground since last week is now transitioning through icy packed snow to ... clear ground. Already, parts of the roadway are clear of snow, and I can only hope that the plowing efforts have been adequate enough to ensure that excessive erosion doesn't occur during snow-melt.

I also hope that people have enough sense-of-mind to not venture out across the lake during these days. There are more and larger patches of watery ice visible, so if people only ensure that they use a modicum of common sense, then there won't be any fall-ins. I have hope: the visitors are usually on top of the ball about safety (if not about following dog-leash rules).

I caught another three mice in the trap. It seems to work quite well for these buggers. However, this last time I forgot to check the trap for a few days and one of the mice ate the remains of its fellow captive before it, too, died. Kinda gruesome. Both were disposed of onto the frozen lake where - once it melts - they will become food for the Lepomis macrochirus that live in the lake.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Gas delivery

Another gas delivery today. The guy from the company says that he comes out here whenever the company computers determine that the cabin needs a fill-up. The model is apparently based on square-footage of the cabin.

Well, I must be doing something good here, because the computer estimated 45 remaining, and when he checked it, I had 55. Turning the furnace down at night and when I'm out really helps keep the gas bill down, I suppose.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Snowfall in Saginaw Forest

Enjoy photos from the snowfall on Saginaw Forest:

Front sign
The Saginaw Forest sign -- covered in snow.

Snow-covered road into Saginaw Forest
The main road before the plows came.

Snowy evening
The a snow-covered world at dusk is magical.

Going home along the snow-covered road

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Bird feeder and greedy squirrels

The bird feeder was knocked to the ground this morning - too much weight caused the frayed string holding it to fall. After checking the roof flashing above the feeder, I noticed several apparent claw marks, which would seem to indicate that squirrels were somehow trying to divebomb the feeder to get at its contents. One likely succeeded, thus causing the whole thing to collapse to the ground.

I've hoisted it up again, but doubt that the attempts will halt. Perhaps attaching it to the underside of the eaves (and thus out of the way of all but the most acrobatic of squirrels) may be a more appropriate solution. True, I could just remove it completely, but after providing food for birds through the autumn and start of winter, I think that I have a moral obligation to continue feeding them, since it's kind of late for the remaining birds to try and migrate south.

More mice caught

Hrm... More mice caught in the live trap. This time, I released them further from the cabin - in the creekbed. Again, one of the mice scarpered after being set free, and one hung around, making me wonder if these might be the same two mice as yesterday. Just in case these are the same two mice as yesterday, I'm thinking about tagging them somehow to see if they are returning to the cabin after I release them. However, I've set up the trap again. Let's see if I get two mice again tomorrow...

Two trapped mice

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Lit a fire

As part of my Zipcar shopping trip, I picked up some long-burn logs. These things are great as fire-starters, being a great foundation for burning "regular" wood -- like this pine.


Caught two elusive mice

Mouse live-trapFor the whole of the summer, fall, and up until last night, I knew there was at least one house mouse that I hadn't caught back at the end of summer. As part of my Zipcar shopping trip yesterday, I picked up a live-trap, since none of the traditional mouse traps were able to capture it (they have been good at capturing four mice so far though...).

Looking around, earlier, I had noticed that the mouse basically confined itself to the loft area, and had somehow brought in some black sunflower seeds (likely from the bird feeder outside). This makes me think that there is a hole somewhere in the roof or a hole between the chimney and the roof (and mouse tracks in the snow on the roof seems to bear this out). However, this bit of knowledge made me realize that this was a good (and easy-to-clean) option of baiting the trap, and this is what I did.

Trapped miceBy sometime after midnight, I heard some noise from the trap, but not wanting to deal with it at the time, I left it alone. This morning, I peered through the holes and found ... that there was indeed a mouse inside. Yes! I had finally caught the little bugger that had been scratching along the roof line and scurrying along the exposed chimney-stones. Carrying the trap outside, I upended it into the snow-covered fire-pit, and out fell two house mice (result!). One immediately shot off for the woods, while the other ran and hid under a piece of half-burnt wood. Hopefully the distance of the campfire will be enough to make sure that they don't get back into the house.

I have re-baited the trap, and left it out again. Hopefully, I won't have to worry about more mice, but if they are there, this little trap seems to be a good one for the more wily house mice that have learned (either via nature or nurture) to avoid the snap-traps. (And it's apparently good for up to 30(!) of the wee sleekit cowrin' tim'rous beasties.)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Another ice-fisher on Third Sister Lake -- not allowed without appropriate permits

Ice fishing tentAlthough the rules-of-use of Saginaw Forest disallow fishing (i.e., No hunting or harming vertebrates), people still try and get away with fishing on Third Sister Lake. This ice-fisher was the third one that I found this year. Why do they try? Do they think that no one is actually here and monitoring Third Sister Lake usage? Hmmm...

This ice-fishing tent was photographed as I went out to go to the laundromat. As with all ice-fishers, DPS was called. When I returned, I noticed that the ice-fishing tent was no longer there. Combining this evidence with new tire tracks in front of the cabin, I assume that DPS actually talked with the ice-fisher, hopefully informing the person that fishing is not allowed.

How can one go fishing out on Third Sister Lake?
A State of Michigan fishing license doesn't cut it, since - as far as I know - this lake is not connected to navigable waters, and, because it is completely surrounded by a single property, access to fishing is controlled by the landowner; in this case the University of Michigan. The requirement for collecting fish from Third Sister Lake is that a person have a vertebrate sampling license from the University of Michigan. However, this is only for research purposes, and not for personal consumption. Of course, I'm not a lawyer.

If you are a researcher who is going to be coming out to Saginaw Forest in order to do research either on Third Sister Lake or on the lands surrounding it, e-mail me, especially if you don't want to be dealing with DPS.