The forestry secret of happiness

I got into tree farming backwards; I love forests and I wanted to own land, but I had to convince myself (and my wife) that tree farming could be a good investment. I made what I considered generous estimates and jumped in. Now it looks like tree farming really is a good investment.

Mills opening in and near Virginia, a possible housing revival, a thriving relatively new market in wood pellets, many of which are going to places like Germany to support their renewable fuels programs, and things like Dominion Power's decision to convert some coal fired plants to Virginia grown biomass is making me (and my wife) happy that we decided to get into forestry.

But good investment potential is just the factor that enables me to be engaged in forestry; itself it is not the reason I do it. I take great satisfaction is watching my trees grow and planning for the future, knowing that the future will be just a little better because I am helping preserve and improve the quality of the soils, the purity of the water, the beauty of the land and its capacity to support wildlife, all the while sustainably growing timber and forest products that we need. This is a long sentence because it encompasses a lot. This is why I do it. This is why we do it.

My sons often come with me to work on our land and meet forestry folks. The other day, my older son asked me, "Why are the people we meet always so happy?" As I thought about the question, I realized that he was right in his observation. People involved in forestry are an unusually happy bunch. Coming up with a definitive answer might require research beyond my abilities but I have a few ideas. Mostly they related to the things I said above.

People are happy when they are doing what they love and when they know that what they are doing has value and meaning. It helps if what they are doing is sustainable both for them and the larger community. Good people want to do good things. Forestry includes all this.

Don't get me wrong. I like money and I am delighted that a forestry investment pays off. Profit is the price of survival. I could not do forestry if it didn't pay off; few of us could. But I don't know anybody in forestry who does it only or even mostly for the money. People in forestry love forests and we love them in all their glorious complexity. We like to look at them, walk in them, plan for the future and remember the past. For me, and I believe for many others, the forest is a place of sweet contentment, where yesterday, today and tomorrow flow together. In times of stress, I find my mind wandering back to my woods. The problems of a day are ephemeral compared with the perpetuity of the forest.

There is a corny saying, "If you are lucky enough to be in the woods, you are lucky enough." But it is true. We should all work to continue the tradition of forestry through organizations like Tree Farm. We grow the trees and we grow happiness at the same time.

Posted by Christine & John at April 20, 2013 11:48 PM
Comment #364656

With a BS in Natural Resource Management and Forestry I understand your love for the natural world. Renewable natural resources such as water, soil, fisheries, timber, and wildlife are essential to humanity and you both protect and foster them, and also make a living from them.

Good renewable natural resource management does not destroy, but both uses wisely and restores. I congratulate you for your worthwhile endeavors.

Among my happiest memories are those spent in national forests camping and fishing.

Posted by: Royal Flush at April 21, 2013 12:12 PM
Comment #364671

Jack “…in 1795 Archibald McIntyre bought 300 acres of land from Jesse Bethea, and an adjoining tract of 264 acres from James B. Legette all on the waters of Beaver Dam Creek and White Oak Creek. Here he estab­lished his home, and here he lived out the remainder of his life. These two purchases became the nucleus, the heart, of a plantation that grew into many hundreds of acres, and in its day was con­sidered one of the best managed and most productive in that com­munity.”

I have inherited 41ac of that estate belonging to my Great, Great, Great Grandfather McIntyre. Sometime in the next year it will be cleared and some months after that it will be re-planted. Over 200 years ago a man gave up everything he ever had and moved his family distances you and I couldn’t imagine in order to secure a better life. The profit from that sell and the re-investment will insure that at least a part of that planation will continue to fulfill Arch Sr.’s dream.

Posted by: George in SC at April 22, 2013 1:37 PM
Post a comment