Adapting to rural living: Equipment for managing our woodlot
The BBC Nature network defines adaptation as “…a process that helps organisms survive in their ecological niche or habitat; adaptations can be anatomical, behavioural or physiological. ”
In nature, God’s creatures are professionals when it comes to adapting to their environment. These learned behaviors not only ensure survival but also allow for easier, more comfortable streamlined living. Nature’s creatures typically respond to changes in weather, seasons, barriers, drought, flood, etc. by utilizing the surrounding landscape to survive and create contentedness. Their habitat provides the means for them to locate and create basic survival tools: food, water, shelter and thermal maintenance.
For every animal in nature, we have to adapt to best enjoy life in environments that often challenge us as much as they enlighten us. What choices do you make to best adapt to your environment?
As humans, we have adapted in many different ways that most other animal species. Over the course of the past century we have changed dramatically. Although our distant ancestors were well-adapted to natural environments and lived much like other creatures, modern-man is more dependent on other human systems to provide services, resources, maintenance, heat, food and other basic necessities. Technology and industry plays a large role in making us more culturally dependent rather individually self sufficient. It is to the discretion of the individual whether this is a good thing for us, but one cannot deny that we are more detached from nature than ever before. Interestingly enough, technology allows us to be more self-sufficient than ever before in what some would call “more harsh rural landscapes.” With modern tools, one can live an easier life off the grid.
Today, many people seek the comfort and security of tightly woven, gated communities. Many of these communities have managers that maintain each property. These communities represent the fastest growing residential developments in the United States. For those happy in these communities and seek not to maintain their own lot nor expand their skill set, living in these communities may be a great option. For those longing for garden space, privacy, solitude and the wholeness of nature, there’s good new in these modern times. Those seeking to live in wilderness environments can more easily live the rural lifestyle. With the advent of modern tools, careful planning and a little labor (which is good for the mind, body and soul) living a bit further out should not be so daunting. We have, and should consider, the privilege of immersing ourselves in both the modern and natural world. The benefit to living on the fringe where city meets country allows us to reap the benefits of culture yet withdraw to the solitude of nature. This alone we feel is essential to healthy living.
With the purchase of our new wilderness 40 acre property in a mountainous region of North Idaho, we have had to make a few investments in our own pieces of technology to help us live more self-sufficiently in nature. Rather than depending on the convenience of others, our initial goal is to be able to maintain and improve our property ourselves. Being self sufficient is quite freeing rather than being dependent on circumstances we cannot control. It’s our choice, but obviously not for everyone.
The second goal is to do so without an extreme investment in time and physical exertion. In this modern day and age with many forms of equipment and implements available, technology allows for us to live comfortably in a rural setting. This comes with an initial expense in equipment, but in the long-term is more cost-effective than hiring the services of others. Not to mention, being self-sufficient is quite empowering. We are rewarded with a less sedentary, healthy outdoor lifestyle. We also enjoy the aesthetics of the amazing natural world that surrounds us and brings us peace.
The key to living in a rural landscape without succumbing to the elements of mother nature is to identify the right tools that be used for a multitude of tasks. We wish to utilize the right equipment, but have a low impact on the natural landscape. While equipment often can be tied to destruction of habitat, we hope to prove how we utilize this equipment to build and enhance habitat. This equipment allows us to improve the landscape for wildlife, greenery, forest diversity and biomass. The two essential pieces of equipment we placed out investment in was a 20 hp diesel compact tractor and a mini-dozer/landscaper. These two vehicles have already saved us half of what they initially cost us. We have been able to create our own terraced hiking trails throughout our sloping property, and wildlife food plots to enhance biodiversity. We can easily grade and improved our long driveway and clear snow winter-long from the driveway and private access road. The equipment is large enough to do the job, but small enough to be affordable and fuel-efficient. The tractor and dozer have a small footprint, are easy to operate and are very maneuverable in tight spaces. The equipment is also fairly quiet to ease on
area noise pollution. Although we’re implementing equipment in the maintenance of our woodlot we also want to be conscious of the neighbors both human and wildlife. These modern pieces of equipment are intended to ease the burden of upkeep, but also allow us to create habitat to improve wildlife. We have already conducted a fair amount of forestry practices to allow balanced growth of both mature trees, seedlings and beneficial ground cover plant species. Having the right equipment to aid in logging and tilling makes all of these chores more effortless, but also much more fun. Living “off the grid” should not be as challenging as many people fear it to be. It should be fun, healthy and bring a sense of adventure to your homestead.