Caring for and Healing the Earth


Down to the Roots

Brian Richard

Brian Richard is a former instructor at the Tracker School

    What tools should we use for caretaking? Stone tools, a knife, clippers, mules, tractor, scythe, weed-eater, handsaw, chainsaw, bare hands, or fire. Well, it seems that each tool has its place and value. I’ve seen where a chainsaw worked best for thick rose bushes (but dangerous). Obviously some tools make tea time out of much work. But let me tell you it’s easy to get carried away and make mistakes. Sometimes it’s good to just stop and reconnect, and stay connected. Power tools are fast and great but there is something about the closeness and connectedness of hand tools, or even your bare hands.
    Around my cabin, here in South Carolina, I deal a lot with taking out invasive privet, Japanese Honeysuckle, wild plums and blackberries. A coarse cutting handsaw (Stanley Shark – toolbox size) works best for cutting branches, shrubs, and small trees. I also found that a weed-eater with a 3-winged sharpened blade works great for honeysuckle, blackberries and other shrubs.
    A big problem with cutting stuff out is that it grows back with what are known as "coppice shoots". The solution to this problem is simple. Pull the whole plant out of the ground, roots and all. Then knock the dirt off the roots and lay it on the ground with the roots up to expose them to the sun and air to dry them out. This is a sure enough way to get rid of the plant for good. A little barbaric, but effective!
    I would like to recommend a great book for all you caretakers and nature lovers in the eastern half of Turtle Island. It’s Peterson’s Ecology of Eastern Forests (#37 in the Peterson’s Field Guide series). It’s a great book for learning the interaction between plants, insects, animals, area communities, and a whole lot more. It’s a must for understanding a lot of the mysteries of our forest.
    Remember that it’s important to learn as much physical knowledge as possible. It helps greatly with the spiritual stuff too. Teaching it to others helps to solidify the knowledge in your brain. Studying the physical aspect also helps us out on those down days, when the spiritual realm seems distant. I’m glad that I can fall back on my physical skills.
    Keep your feet in the dirt and let your spirit soar.
    God Bless.


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