History of our land

Vermont Forest Cover

The best things about Vermont is how small and friendly the population is.  Sure, the mountains, lakes, and seasons play a big part, but I really like the people.  Over the past year, we’ve had a lot of work done to the house and almost every crew contains one person who sheds more light on the history of the house or the surrounding land.  I doubt we know the full story, but I think we know enough to write a little about it.

Like much of the land on Oak Hill Road ours belonged to a small farming family maybe as far back as the 1800s.  Based on the stories this family still owned our land into the 1970s.  We know the person who built our house bought the property between 1998 and 1999.  Her and her late husband completed construction in 2000 on 2 acres of cleared space.  We took over the 38.5 acre parcel in 2014 and have added another 2 acres (estimated) of cleared space.

Based on stories and my judging of tree growth, I think it is safe to assume our land was part of the late 1800s and early 1900s Vermont clear-cutting effort.  Most of Vermont was cut down to fuel the logging industry during this time and then some of the land was used for agricultural purposes thereafter.  There are some small rusted pieces of deteriorated metal I’ve found in a few spots that could have been metal water troughs, but the deterioration is so bad I can’t tell for sure.  It is very possible livestock pastured our land at one point.  Even though our acreage is all downhill, it is at a grade of less than 10 degrees; which in Vermont, is basically flat.  Devoid of trees it is excellent farmland.

I recently learned a neat fact about forest regrowth.  Forests re-start (and probably start) as softwood forests.  Softer tree species grow faster.  In Vermont, that mostly includes varying pine and birch species.  In time, the hardier species creep in and suffocate the soft woods out.  In our yard that mostly consists ash and maple.  We also have a lot of cherry and poplar growth, but maple is by far the most dominate species.  When land is livestock pasture the first species to dominate are part of the evergreen families because cows don’t like the taste.  We absolutely have signs of this on the upper part of our land.  The pine forest is in decay, but it’s location is the most easily accessible to what would have been the main farm operation.  Below this area are a few large pines fighting maples that are probably in the 30-year-old range.  In another 20 years, of unmolested growth, we will definitely have a true hardwood forest.