Friday, October 21, 2011

Timber party! Community pitches in to provide firewood and lumber

A beautiful morning for harvesting two large oak trees that will
be milled into lumber for building a very large dining room table
and benches for communal meals. Once milled, the lumber must
cure and dry for many months on racks, yet the satisfaction of
sustainably harvesting and utilizing Valhalla's own natural
resources will be well worth the long wait.
Last Saturday the Benitz family and friends arrived with chainsaws to harvest some firewood for the coming winter.

Because the Valhalla pilot property includes roughly 150 acres of forested areas there will always be plenty of firewood available through deadfall alone. As part of our environmental sustainability program Valhalla also intends to use some additional trees for building furniture (tables, beds, storage chests for personal items) as well as in future cabin construction projects.

As a new nonprofit, learning as we go, it hadn't occurred to us
to include a structured Valhalla civilian volunteer program. The
neighbors didn't care about formalities though, they simply
showed up wanting to help prepare the property to receive the first
combat Soldiers and war zone civilian workers. Here Ricky 

Heinen shows his chainsaw talents with a freshly downed oak as 
his son Justin Jennings (left) waits to pounce in with his ax.
Over the summer we invited forestry experts from the US Forest Service to come out and assess the property, yet even during the drought Valhalla's forests were so thick that it was impossible to do a proper assessment. Now that the leaves are starting to fall and undergrowth is thinning out the foresters will come back to help Valhalla design a practical and productive 100 year sustainable Timber Harvest Plan.

Valhalla civilian volunteer Justin splitting firewood
from the branches of this oak tree. The trunk itself
has been reserved for milling lumber and the
firewood will help keep the house warm this
winter while reducing dependence on
electrical heating systems.
While having such a plan on private property isn't a requirement, Valhallans should have the opportunity to learn responsible timber management practices within a larger comprehensive program that will integrate wildlife management, fire control, and sustainable farming operations. Voluntarily working with foresters, wildlife managers, conservation service biologists and other public service professionals, over the long term the Valhalla pilot property should become self sustaining to provide food, building materials, and heating and cooling systems.

Neighbor Paul Benitz stacking firewood cut from
deadfall salvaged from the forest floor.
During this early preparatory stage and without necessary equipment of our own yet - chainsaws, axes, a pickup truck for moving firewood and other materials - the role of helpful neighbors has become critical to getting the Valhalla Project off the ground. We are overwhelmed by the generosity of community members who have very limited resources themselves yet are always willing to pitch in. And at every step along the way they remember the Soldiers who have sacrificed everything in the name of their countrymen.

Who are you?
Gordon meets an unexpected trespasser on the front lawn. He then tried to convince her to deposit fertilizer inside the stakes marking Valhalla's future raised bed gardens. The cow refused to cooperate. Neighbor Doug Royston eventually arrived to bring her back to his herd.

Our IRS application for nonprofit status is being processed, 
yet you can still donate to help Valhalla today!

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