Several generations ago it was a farm, then came the agricultural depression of the early 1920s, followed not long after by the great depression of the 1930s. As happened so frequently, the small family farm was no longer economically viable and the fields were abandoned to slowly revert to woodland.
Now in the 21st Century the only obvious sign that part of this forest had once been a cleared field is an old stonerow among the trees. On one side of the stonerow is a mature forest with a great variety of tree species and large fallen trees, on the other side the trees are smaller and primarily species that colonize old abandoned fields.
It’s a stonerow because it’s just a jumbled line of stones, stones that were never in a stone wall. It was just a place to dispose of rocks that had been laboriously picked from the field. A few pieces of old barbed wire protruding from some large trees speak of a need to confine livestock. The fairly small stones included in the stonerow are a sign that the field had not just been a pasture or hayfield but had been cultivated at some time in the past.
Agricultural history is not why we’re here today, but it is why the stonerow is in this part of the Big Woods.
Stonerows provide a focus for wildlife activity; they collect tree seeds and nuts in crevices between the rocks and harbor insects, salamanders and small mammals which, in turn, attract predators both large and small. All that wildlife persuaded this camera trapper to put a camera trap at the edge of the stonerow. The camera had been in place for several weeks, here in alphabetical order are some of the results –
The arrival of fall hunting seasons has prompted me to remove the camera since, unfortunately, not everyone is honest.