East Wind is located on 1,045 acres of primarily forested land in the beautiful Missouri Ozarks. Nearly 800 acres are set aside by the community as a type of nature reserve; the wooded landscape interrupted only by the occasional dirt road and abandoned homestead. During the cooler months of the year, it is here that most of our forestry projects take place. The undertakings of East Wind’s forestry team include cutting and gathering firewood, harvesting and milling logs on our sawmill, and clearing and maintaining the roads. In addition to owning and operating our own sawmill, we also possess a tractor, a gas-powered log splitter, a wood chipper, a 1919 fly wheel engine, professional climbing gear, a log carrier, and a small fleet of chainsaws and handsaws. We share a number of farm trucks with the rest of the community.
Many of us who participate in the forestry program have a deep respect and appreciation for nature and for the land we call our home. We respect the other forms of life with whom we share the land, and so we make every effort to create a positive impact on the environment we have chosen to steward. We regularly survey the land to observe the health of the forest and our effects on it, keeping an eye out for diseases that may be harmful to our trees (Dutch Elm Disease, Oak Wilt, etc.). We are appreciative of the natural resources the forest provides in such abundance; the firewood that gives us warmth and the lumber that allows us to build and create are certainly among these gifts.
All of the personal shelters in community use wood heat, as well as some of our larger buildings and communal spaces (currently, the largest residences use electric heat). Firewood is a necessity during the winter months; so cutting, splitting, hauling, stacking, and curing enough firewood to feed all of our wood stoves is a priority. Fortunately, firewood is plentiful, and we are able to continually harvest sustainably by collecting wood from the forest floor and by felling dead standing trees.
Before live trees lose their leaves in the autumn, we scout out recently deceased standing trees near the road and mark them to be cut (some dead trees are left standing to provide homes for wildlife). During the winter, the marked trees are felled and brought to our sawmill to be made into lumber, as well as logs from trees that have naturally fallen. We most frequently mill black oak and white oak, and occasionally mill black walnut, cedar, etc. If we choose to fell live trees to be made into lumber, posts, or firewood, we practice low grading (this entails selecting the poorest species or specimens and thinning them out to make room for healthier, more "desirable" trees).
At this time, much of our milled lumber is stored outside, protected only by sheets of tin. This arrangement sometimes results in boards becoming molded, warped, and occasionally unusable. We are presently working on relocating our sawmill to a nearby spot on our property where we intend to build a wood drying shed alongside it. Our sawmill currently runs on gasoline, but we plan to install a recently purchased and restored steam engine after the relocation project is complete. In the spring of 2010, we demolished an abandoned and dilapidated house to create space for the new sawmill site (and had lots of fun doing it).
We also maintain the few existing dirt roads, mostly by clearing away fallen trees and branches and creating drainage ditches. We use our wood chipper to clear and utilize brush, creating wood chips for our gardens and orchards. Though much of the work we do takes place out in the woods (on what we call “the New Land”), it is occasionally necessary to fell or prune diseased or dead trees near buildings in community as well.
Newcomers are welcomed and encouraged to learn and help out.