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The Buckthorn Brigade

We just finished a job out in Delafield clearing a rather steep hillside of Buckthorn. The hill is overlooking Nagawicka Lake and is the home to many large and wonderful Oak trees as well as many turkey, deer and squirrel.  We have worked at this site for a few years now and I would guess that we have been cutting out buckthorn for a total of about 30 days over the past three years.  I have got to tell you, it sure feels good to look the hillside over top to bottom and not see any buckthorn.  Except of course the little shoots that are sprouting up from the area where we started three years ago.  But, if you squint your eyes just right, you don’t even see those.


From what I read, the buckthorn berries can survive for up to seven years.  So, even if you cut down and kill the plant, those pesky little berries will start you a new crop of plants to battle for up to seven years.  Our plan is to keep after the hillside every few years so that it doesn’t get away from us and start to re-seed again.   We are hoping that from here on out we’ll be able to use a brush trimmer rather than a chainsaw to manage the buckthorn.
The hillside that we are working on overlooks Nagawicka lake in such a manner that at first glance, a person feels as though they are standing on lake front property.   It’s not until you can pull your eyes away from the magnificent views of the sparkling lake water and really gaze down to even past the bottom of the long hill, past the little tributary and past the beautifully flowing marsh grasses and cattails that you suddenly realize that you are not on lake property at all.  There is a road that separates this magnificent piece of land from the lake.  I’ll tell you this, you definitely can’t tell from inside the house.
Adding to the beauty of this hillside setting are the many retaining walls, walkways and steps that wind their way between the grand Oaks and around the house offering many choice vistas to appreciate the beauty of the land or to sneak up on a turkey or deer.   The wildlife on this particular hill is rather abundant. We have seen many deer in the early morning as we ready ourselves for the days work.   But, much more common that the deer are the wild turkeys that roam the hillside.  These large, beautiful birds have oftentimes startled me with their general disregard for or lack of fear of humans.   It is not at all uncommon to be working on the hillside, minding your own business only to stand up and realize that you are being cautiously approached by a flock of the local turkey family.  For someone who hasn’t had this pleasure, I’ll tell you that those birds are really pretty big close up.   Especially those show-off Toms, always strutting around with their tails in the air showing everyone who’s boss of the oak knoll.

Other than those crazy friendly turkeys, I’ve encountered some other unusually friendly wildlife on this property as well.  One day, I was getting some tools out of the truck when I saw what appeared to be a small dog trotting down the middle of the road. I looked away, but then looked back, realizing that something wasn’t quite right. What I initially thought was a friendly neighborhood dog, turned out to be a Red Fox.  I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw that Fox just running down the road, not even caring that he was running toward me and the truck. Well, having never seen such bold actions from a Fox before, I just stood and watched as he coolly trotted by, barely even giving me a glance.

This little oak hill is definitely it’s own special piece of land, the views are unlike those seen elsewhere, as are the local inhabitants.  Maybe the place that time has forgotten?  Well, all right, I wouldn’t go that far, but it sure is unique.  and now, thanks to our many days of cutting, it is uniquely void of buckthorn.  We are planning a trip back there tomorrow to help start up the stream for the summer.  I’m always anxious to get back there to once again spend the day working, surrounded by nature and views afar.

Check out this quick video of the hillside. I know it’s not great, but I’m just learning how to get these videos up on the web. Give me some time, it will improve.


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