Haak Property Tour – Saturday October 17th, 2015

2015-10-17 10.50.25-1Haak Property Tour
Saturday, October 17th, 2015

F0rty H-P Woodlot Association members ignored the winter weather warnings and attended a woodlot tour at John and Janet Haak’s property on a chilly October morning.  Located near the Hullett Provincial Wildlife Area, the Haaks purchased the property in 1994, when much of it was in agriculture. Due to poorly drained soils the land wasn’t very productive, and the Haaks decided to retire much of the marginal land into trees, ponds, and prairies.

2015-10-17 09.43.04First off, we received a demonstration of a loader mount shred till from Gary Roth.  The shred till spot tills, shreds, and mixes soil in existing grasses and light brush to create a suitable tree planting site.  For more information, contact Gary (519 272-2283; elliceelectric@quadro.net), or check out the shred till YouTube video by clicking here.

2015-10-17 10.03.06After decades of tree planting, today the Haak property contains 70 acres of forested land, 3 acres of tallgrass prairies, 6 ponds, and 17 acres of workable land.  John can’t resist adding more trees every year, and on the tour he showed the group the extensive work he has done to manage the woodlot to produce the best saw logs possible, and to maintain high biodiversity of both plants and animals.

The last stop on the tour, John pointed out 4 trees of different species, and asked the crowd what tree they would keep if they had to remove three.  As to be expected, there were many different opinions about what would be ‘the best’ tree to keep.  The lesson to be learned was that even though there were 4 different answers to the question, all answers were correct!  The way your woodlot is managed depends on your own long term objectives, and there is not a single ‘correct’ way to do things.

Thank you John, for a very informative tour!

2015-10-17 11.08.28


40348 Summerhill Road (Summerhill Road is the 3rd road north of Clinton or 2nd road south of Londesborough on Highway #4 (London Road). Turn east on Summerhill Road and travel 2 km to the first intersection at Wildlife Line).


Turn north on Wildlife Line.  Parking will be at the end of the dead end road.

Agenda (tour starts at 9:30 a.m.)

We’ll tour John and Janet Haak’s property near Clinton and view marginal farm land restoration, hardwood and softwood management, tall grass prairie & wetland establishment, species diversity, etc. John has been particularly innovative in his management approaches and ability to access various assistance programs. John was named a Trees Ontario Green Leader in 2012 for his dedication to tree planting.

Our Woodlot Association Chapter visited this property in April 2005. It will be quite interesting to see tree growth and new projects that have been established and other changes in the ten years since our first visit.

Following the tour we’ll have a hot dog barbeque and social time at the Haak’s cabin. We’ll ask for donations to cover the cost. Any surplus will go to the chapter.


Please contact John Haak by phone (519-482-3353) or email (janethaak@hotmail.com) if you are planning to attend so he knows how much food to buy. Everyone welcome.

Upcoming Huron Perth Woodlot Association Outings for 2015

We’re still pursuing the possibility of touring a mechanized plantation thinning operation. We’re not certain when or where this might be. If arranged, it will likely be on short notice.

November 21, 2015 – Strategic Planning Workshop for the Ontario Woodlot Association. Our provincial organization is hosting a series of four strategic planning workshops to help set future direction and ensure sustainability of the Ontario Woodlot Association. The final and closest workshop is November 21st in the Brantford area. No further details are currently available. We assume more information will be posted on the provincial web site as it becomes available.

Haak Tour Oct 17, 2015-1Haak Tour Oct 17, 2015-2

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Invasive species tour – September 12, 2015

At a recent outing of the Huron Perth Woodlot Association, members were lead on a woodland hike by Brenda Gallagher of the Upper Thames Conservation Authority (UTRCA) as a follow-up to the chapter AGM where Brenda spoke about invasive species.  While the focus of the hike was invasive species, she also pointed out other species and discussed their history, ecology, folklore and medicinal properties.  UTRCA  generously provided access to their Wildwood Conservation Area near St. Marys for the event.

As with many sites across southern Ontario, Wildwood was heavily infested with European (common) buckthorn. It is on Ontario’s noxious weed list, primarily because it is an alternate host to the oat rust fungus.  It seeds prolifically, annually bearing a heavy crop of black berries.  .  Its Latin name Rhamnus cathartica relates to the cathartic (laxative) effect the berries have on whatever ingests them.  Birds feeding on the berries quickly spread the seeds far and wide.  A cousin, glossy buckthorn, is also invasive in woodlands in parts of southern Ontario.  Apparently glossy buckthorn was planted in some areas in the 1800’s and early 1900’s since burning the wood produced charcoal with ideal characteristics for manufacture of black powder (gunpowder).  Control of buckthorn is best carried out with appropriate herbicide applied as a basal bark treatment to standing trees or to freshly cut stumps.

Another invasive plant the group saw was dog-strangling vine, a relative newcomer to Perth County.  It has the ability to overwhelm existing natural vegetation.  Currently the only means of control is repeated application of appropriate herbicides.  Gallagher said a caterpillar that feeds exclusively  on dog-strangling vine had recently been released in the Toronto area.  Hopefully it will be as successful as the beetle released several years ago to provide control of purple loosestrife, another non-native invasive.


Dog strangling vine.

Along the trail Gallagher pointed out a number of interesting plants and presented a variety of information about them.  In a wetter location she identified several skunk cabbage plants and was able to show the group remnant leaves and seed pods.  Skunk cabbage gets its name from the skunk like odour it gives off when flowering or when the leaves are crushed.  It actually starts growth and flowers in late winter, usually when there is still snow on the ground.  It is a thermogenic plant, which means it has the ability to raise its temperature several degrees above the surrounding environment through cellular respiration ( thermogenesis).  Carrion flies and other insects are attracted into the flower by the odour and higher temperatures.  They reciprocate for the warm place to stay by providing pollination services.

Participants were shown several species of plantain that are common in both natural and disturbed areas.  Plantain is reported to help reduce inflammation and itching from rashes, insect bites and stings.  It is also said to help healing of wounds.  A mashed up poultice of the leaves can be placed directly on the affected area.  She also showed the group the common woodland plant, jewelweed (also known as touch-me not or impatiens).  Many people believe the sap from mashed up jewelweed will help relieve symptoms of skin problems such as sunburn and poison ivy.

Brenda talks with the group.

Brenda talks with the group.

Gallagher really caught the group’s attention when she described how to make a tincture of hawthorn berries by chopping them up and placing them in a container, then covering them with vodka.  After a few weeks the liquid is drained off and kept as the tincture which is administered orally as needed.  Hawthorn apparently has benefits for heart health.  Several folks seemed quite interested in trying this process.

As the group stopped under an elm tree Gallagher described how elms had often been used as outdoor meeting places throughout history and planted outside courtrooms as symbols of justice prior to devastation by the Dutch elm disease.  She also explained that natives in our area had often used elm bark in making canoes due to a lack of birch trees in our local forests.  Apparently they were taunted during interactions with nearby groups that had faster and lighter birch bark canoes.  She laughed about how people are similar today, only now they may be envious of others who have nicer cars or pickup trucks.

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Annual General Meeting held on Saturday, April 11th, 2015

  • Morning Tour: Bill & Anne Phelan’s Forest Property near Bayfield
  • Afternoon Speaker: Brenda Gallagher of Upper Thames CA: Invasive Species
  • CHAINSAW DRAW and Raffle

Click here for full details.

9:45 a.m. Tour: of Bill and Anne Phelan’s forested property. It is hard to believe, but it is 15 years since we visited the Phelan site in April, 2000. At the time they were in the process of thinning their pine plantation. The Phelan’s can now show us and discuss the results of that thinning operation as well as highlighting other activities on their property including a small wetland creation project, products from their small bandsaw mill, wildlife related topics, etc.

Location: 77915 Porters Hill Line northeast of Bayfield (west side of Porters Hill Line, between Tower Line Road and Telephone Road). Parking will be available beside the driveway or near the buildings, depending on the weather prior to April 11th.

12:00 Noon: Lunch and Business Meeting at the White Carnation Banquet Hall located at 79867 Parr Line south of Holmesville

  • Lunch
  • General meeting and updates (e.g. past activities, planned activities, treasurer’s report, election of executive members, chainsaw draw and raffle, etc.)


One member in attendance will win a: STIHL MS 251 Chainsaw (45.6 cc, MSRP $479.99)

  • Each current member who attends will receive one draw ticket.
  • Members will receive one additional ticket for each guest they bring who purchases a new membership prior to the draw.
  • Each new member purchasing a membership prior to the draw will receive one draw ticket.
  • You must be present at the draw in order to qualify to win.


There will be a separate raffle table. If members have, or can access, items to donate for the raffle, please bring them to the meeting (e.g. wood crafts, tools, books, clothes, etc.)

Afternoon Speaker (approximately 1:30 p.m.) Brenda Gallagher will deliver a presentation on Invasive Plant Species, a growing threat to biodiversity in our woodlots and other natural areas. Brenda is an Upper Thames CA staff member and is very knowledgeable on plant identification, edible plant species and assorted native plant restoration topics.

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First Annual Western Ontario Woodlot Expo (WOWE)

This gallery contains 15 photos.

By all accounts, the first annual Western Ontario Woodlot Expo was a great success! The event was hosted by the Huron-Perth Chapter of the Ontario Woodlot Association and the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association at the Hoover Maple Farm. Upwards … Continue reading

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Woodlot Tour and Sawmill Demonstration

Woodlot Tour and Sawmill Demonstration
Saturday September 27, 2014
Field trip to the farm and woodlots of Roger and Elaine Cook

4335 Road 110, northeast of Stratford
(see full details and map by clicking here)

Morning (9:30 a.m.)
A walk through and discussion of Roger and Elaine’s conifer plantations. Two lots of different ages and stages (34 yrs. and 20 yrs.). Featuring: initial planting spacing, species composition, tending, thinning and pruning which has been ongoing for 25 years, as well as expectations and target spacing. Also a walk through the native hardwood lot which has been heavily thinned of declining ash trees. Discussion of the feasibility of replanting a few hardwood and conifer trees to enhance species diversity with hemlock, white pine, tamarack and red oak. Also, a tree and wood I.D. quiz.

We’ll order pizza for those interested, or feel free to bring your own lunch.

Activities after lunch will include an antique circular sawmill demonstration.

Registration –Registration is not required but is appreciated. Phone Roger and Elaine Cook at (519) 271-1978 for details (or email doubleccfarm@gmail.com). Everyone is welcome.

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Annual General Meeting 2014

Roughly 80 members of the Huron Perth Chapter of the Ontario Woodlot Association enjoyed perfect weather and an interesting day at the Chapter’s annual general meeting on April 12th.  Hosts were Harold and Aileen Burgin at their Green Arbour Farm, just east of Kirkton.  Following the tour, participants travelled to the Kirkton-Woodham Community Hall for a meal and business meeting, followed by a visit to the Heritage Barn Museum maintained by George and Verna Burgin at the south edge of Kirkton.

Harold Burgin outlines their forest management activities to chapter members

Harold Burgin outlines their forest management activities to chapter members

Harold provided an interesting history of the farm and their activities since purchasing it in 1980. By the early 1900’s much of the natural forest in the area had been cleared for farmland and also to produce firewood to heat nearby homes and power local industry.  Somewhat unusual on the Burgin farm is that some of the forest was replaced with a four acre silver maple plantation established in 1928.

Also uncommon is the fact that the Burgin’s have tapped those silver maple trees to produce maple syrup since purchasing the farm.  Most maple syrup producers tap hard (sugar or black) maple trees while very few utilize soft (silver or native red) maple.  Typically sap from soft maple has a lower sugar content than that from hard maple, but in the Burgin woodlot there doesn’t seem to be that much difference.  Harold usually tests the sugar contact of sap several times during the season.  His silver maples are usually around 2.5%, while hard maples in an adjacent woodlot that he rents for tapping are about 3%.

Harold also outlined their many other activities including establishing  a sugar maple plantation, Christmas tree plantation and windbreaks.

Lucky winner of the chainsaw draw: Rick Kaptein

Lucky winner of the chainsaw draw: Rick Kaptein

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EAB Meeting – Bayfield 2008

Emerald Ash Borer Information Session

The session was held at Pine Lake Camp near Bayfield on December 16, 2008. Speaker presentations can be viewed by selecting one of the links below.

Brian Hamilton, CFIA – EAB background and update

Eric Clelland, MNR – experiences from Norfolk County

Terry Schwan, MNR – managing stressed woodlots


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