Today was another yard clean-up day. We focused on the area where the new deer fence will soon go around the vegetable garden. After yanking up all the old fencing and fence posts, we concentrated on clearing tree and shrub growth further back from the area, so that the new fence, which will be about 8 feet tall, can be erected without banging into anything. We’ll store the old posts and fencing material for reuse later. Large piles of limbs now surround the garden area.
Tomorrow, we will carry them all down to Brush Pile Mountain. That’s what I call the giant pile of organic debris — mostly tree limbs, but also pulled weeds — that sits in the middle of the floodplain. One advantage of not living in a suburb with HOA rules is that we can do things like this — build humungous piles of brush without offending the neighbors. I’m pretty sure our neighbors can’t even see the pile — the advantage of living on five acres.
Lovers of wildlife know that brush piles are excellent habitat for all kinds of critters. Raccoons, groundhogs, and possums have all called the pile home at various times. I’ve accidentally disturbed sleeping salamanders under logs as I’ve added new material.
But the creatures I notice most often are birds, especially in winter. White-throated sparrows and slate-colored juncos seem especially fond of the shelter. When we know snow is coming, we usually manage to place a few evergreen boughs over the top of the pile to create air pockets beneath for creatures to huddle in.
Brush Pile Mountain usually peaks in height and width during winter clean-up season. Right now, I’m guessing it tops out at about 15 feet high and maybe 25 or 30 feet in diameter, maybe more. Summer heat and humidity will shrink the pile as the wood decays. And we’ll build it back up next winter.
Building up Brush Pile Mountain is satisfying labor. You feel like you’ve accomplished something tangible when all that organic material looms high overhead. Knowing that wildlife can use it, and that natural processes will break it all down eventually to enrich the soil adds to that satisfaction.