northernredsalamander2Salamanders are one of Indiana’s unique critters that often go unnoticed. Few people realize that Indiana’s woodland and wetland habitats host twenty-two different species of salamanders.

They are fascinating to many people because of their striking color patterns and distinctive habits. Particularly, they have the ability to breathe and absorb moisture through their skin, as well as regenerating lost limbs.

Salamanders are amphibians, which means “double life,” referring to their two stage life cycle. As juveniles, many salamanders live in the water with feathered gills and spend their time feeding and growing. Once they reach adulthood, they lose their gills and climb onto land ready to breed.

Many salamander enthusiasts enjoy finding these critters. Because salamanders prefer damp and dark places, they can be found under decomposing logs and rocks. Salamanders are quite shy and harmless, and need to be handled with care.

Landowners can harvest trees to create more cover for salamanders to live under.  With the combined efforts and awareness, salamanders will be around for years to come.

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What is a Forester?

DSC_4388 WEBThe dictionary defines a forester “as an individual who practices the science and art of managing forests.”  A professional forester will typically have a bachelor’s degree from a school accredited by the Society of American Foresters such as Purdue University.  In school a forestry student will learn about ecology, biology, tree identification, conservation and forest management.  Foresters typically have a passion for the outdoors and are willing to work in all sorts of environments and weather.  At Pike Lumber Company we employ many college trained foresters who will happily work with you to ensure that your goals and objectives for your woods are being properly met.

Pike Lumber Company’s newest forester is Amy Baumgartner.  Amy is from Haslett, Michigan near Lansing.  She started with Pike Lumber Company after graduating Michigan Tech University last spring.  Amy enjoys hiking, traveling, and spending time with her family.  She is currently training with our veteran foresters around our Akron, Indian sawmill.  A forester like Amy will be able to tell you about the age, health, species mix, and possibilities and opportunities in your woods.  Give us a call at Pike Lumber Company to set up an appointment to meet with one of our professional foresters working in your area today!

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Ginseng is a small, perennial plant and is found throughout North American and eastern Asia. It is recognized by its distinctive cluster of bright red berries that sits in the center of several leafy stems. Ginseng needs well-drained soils and 75% tree canopy cover. They grow best underneath: Black Walnut, Sugar Maple and Tulip Poplar. In the Chinese tradition, the plant is known for its medicinal background and is believed to help cure many modern illnesses. Because of these properties, it is in high demand, and can be sold for $500-600 per pound. Any legal harvesting of ginseng in Indiana must occur between September 1 through December 31. Humans are not the only ones that like ginseng; deer often will eat the plant if they find it.

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The Great Horned Owl

great-horned-owl-744357_960_720The Great Horned Owl is the largest owl found in Indiana. A mature owl will grow up to 1 ½ to 2 feet tall with a wingspan from 3 to 5 feet across. Their name originates due to their long, “horn-like” feathers on their heads. These large owls can be found throughout North and South America. Their mottled color tone varies from each region’s environment, from a dark soot pattern to a white pattern.

Like many owls, they are passive during the daylight hours and nocturnally active during the night hours. Most of their hunting activity peaks after sunset and before sunrise. They hunt mainly from a high vantage point scanning the area for prey. Their eyes cannot move in their sockets, but instead their heads swivel more than 180 degrees to look in any direction. Their diet consists of mostly small mammals and birds, but can hunt 2 to 3 times its size. Their short but broad wings allow them to fly with great maneuverability, and their extremely soft feathers make it nearly impossible to hear them during flight. On large prey, they dig their talons into their backs to sever the spine to immobilize their prey.

Great Horned Owls can live up to 13 years in the wild. They are known for their deep ‘hooting’ call, usually 4 to 5 stuttering hoots. Many people enjoy replicating their call and watching them curiously flying into view.

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Black Walnut

walnut-1505359__340From early settlement through today Walnut has been the premier Midwestern hardwood.  Typically the most valuable tree in a woods, Walnut’s rich brown heartwood and pleasing grain pattern isn’t only desired in the United States but around the world.  This is particularly true in countries that demand excellence like Japan and Germany.

Walnut is used in many high-end products.  The highest quality logs are used to produce veneer.  Veneer making is the process in which a log is shaved into thin sheets and applied over more mundane surfaces.  The lumber from regular logs are manufactured into products such as high quality furniture, flooring, and gunstocks.  Walnut’s white sapwood has little initial market value but Pike Lumber Company implements a process known as “steaming” that darkens the sapwood creating a uniform finish.

Walnut has a large geographical range across most the eastern United States but a narrow range of suitable soils where it grows well.  Walnut prefers deep, rich, moist but well drained soils, and often is found by streams.  Some of the world’s best Walnut growing soils are found in Indiana and the surrounding states.  Located in the center of prime Walnut country, Pike Lumber Company, has over a century of experience in dealing with this valuable resource and is a major player in the world’s Walnut market. Let us assist you in managing the Walnut in your woods.

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Kentucky Coffeetree

Close-up-of-Coffee-Tree-pod-with-seeds.-Schmitz-and-Carstens-photoKentucky Coffeetree (Gymnocladus dioicus) is a rare tree species in the woods of Indiana. It is most often found in small patches on limestone outcroppings and bottomland
soils, and has scaly, irregular, light-gray bark that curls up slightly at the edges. The leaves are large, up to 3 feet in length. Each leaf has one central stem with several branching stems that bear the small leaflets, which can number more than 100.

Throughout the year on female trees, you will find the short, thick seed pods containing 4-8 beans which give the tree its name. These large roundish beans, the size of a nickel, were roasted by settlers and ground as a poor substitute for coffee. The beans must be roasted
first to remove their natural toxins and the pods are also toxic.

Native Americans are reported to have placed large quantities in streams and lakes to kill fish for food. Some scientists also believe that the trees were spread by pre-historic mammoths eating and partially digesting the seeds. This would explain why the tree is so rare. Now that the mammoth is extinct, there is no very large wildlife to
eat these seeds, thereby starting new populations.

The lumber of this tree is reddish brown like Cherry, with grain similar to Red Oak.
While the lumber is sturdy, easy to work, and rot resistant, due to lack of supply,
the normal market for this lumber is for craft and hobby wood.

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