On a 33-acre 270-year-old former dairy farm in Bethany, Connecticut, much of that land is doing what Connecticut does: growing trees. It might be hard for some to envision a different future. Over the years, the woodlands have become choked with invasive and native “climbers,” like bittersweet and multiflora rose.
But at Rocky Corner we envision enjoying sunny summer days in a clover meadow under a towering ancient oak tree, trail hiking to a nearby pond, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing through a wintry landscape, or picking apples and pears from our orchards. But first we have to clear much of this invasive brush away!
Regular work parties have tackled patches of scrub with loppers, snippers, root-digger-outer thingies, and limb saws wielded by a small devoted, army of Rocky Corner community members. Brenda deftly maneuvers the loader on her tractor for the heavy lifting of dead tree trunks and piles of prickly vines. Others select from an array of tools gathered from the NEW barn for the day’s work.
In one area, a foot and horse path is being revived for an easement from our property along an old stonewall (aplenty in Connecticut – it’s the “rock” in Rocky Corner!). The path continues across a conservation and land management stretch known as the Spykman Preserve, along a creek bed, running fast from the spring melt and rains. Further on, the path reaches a small wetland where the creek feeds Lake Chamberlain, which is under the jurisdiction of the Regional Water Authority. Fishing anyone?
We’ve worked on a patch of ground that when cleared will provide a lovely meadow at the base of a towering white oak. Visions of Sunday picnics here! And yet another day’s work reveals a gargantuan rhododendron in full spring bloom, among a small grove of maples (sugar?!) and shagbark hickories. A weathered wall and crumbling stone foundation of the original owner’s house, with a small, mysterious ground covering patchwork of old bricks are windows into the history of this land.
Nature’s stunning beauty, speckled with hints of American history and lore, is all around us! There is always something new to observe and enjoy – any time of the year.