restoration story | History and 2020 Vision
Our church property was once covered by a mature white pine forest. It was farmed by the Reid family who emigrated from Ireland. A farmhouse and barn stood way back from the road in the middle of the property but by the 1950's, both house and barn were gone. Still remaining are several old stone walls or fences, made by piling up stones removed from the fields.
In the years before 1998 a system of walking trails was developed on the property, but the Ice Storm damaged many of the cedar trees that later fell onto the trails and onto the beautiful old stone wall that runs north-south about one-third of the way back to the high ground. We re-routed some trails and cleaned up others, but never had the time to also clean all of the debris from the wall. The trails were used by youth groups, day camps and individual members in the following years, but have gradually fallen into disuse, likened to Proverbs 24:31 “… thorns had come up everywhere, the ground was covered with weeds, and the stone wall was in ruins.”
This fall would be a perfect time to restore the wall and the trail that runs beside it to give everyone in our church family a safe place to walk, snowshoe and ski, and enjoy the natural world in all seasons.
David Gray, a member our Property Committee, would welcome your involvement in this restoration. Taking COVID into consideration, strict social distancing would be in place. He will co-ordinate the work so that individuals or families would work on a specified part of the wall, just like families did, when they restored the walls of Jerusalem. “The work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall.” Nehemiah 4:19
Work areas will be clearly marked and specific instructions given so that families can work at their part of the wall at any time of the week, including Saturdays. Gathered debris will be piled to be burned once the snow is on the ground. Younger members of each family might bring their shields and swords to stand guard and help protect the workers, as they did at Jerusalem in Nehemiah's time. The timeline for this restoration is between September 25 and October 25. Why those dates? Nehemiah 6:15 says: “So the wall was finished in the 25th day of the month.”
The first Saturday, September 26, the challenge was accepted by a 23-person work crew, made up of 10 adults and 13 kids from 6 families. With 3 chainsaws and a lot of muscle, dead trees and branches were cleared from the entire wall. According to David, progress was amazing and a lot of fun. The amount of debris was astounding, far too much to carry away for burning. This coming Saturday work will begin on restoring the trails.
Over Thanksgiving weekend, 16 people, representing 7 families, working on the Heritage Trail. They dug out rocks, cut fallen trees and pulled up Prickly Ash. They also re-routed the east end of the trail so that it now passes through a small grove of wild apple trees. Some also cleaned up the top of the stone wall and filled in the ruts on the Farm Laneway. Thanks to all who helped out!
digging out rocks
filling in ruts
The next weekend, 18 people working on the trails; 9 adults, 9 kids and 3 dogs! The old farm laneway was cleared to the big field, the path through the field was mostly cut, and the first one-third of the access trail to the beaver pond was cleared, with almost all of the prickly ash gone. There were also two new posts installed for placing trail signs.
young apple tree site
no more prickly ash!
The next week, our restoration crew was made up of four families. They removed more of the dead, broken cedar trees on the west side of the old stone wall, installed another trail marker post, reflagged the Heritage Trail with yellow markers, and brush-cut a swampy part of the Beaver Trail. Join us coming Saturday morning to work on the Beaver Trail!
Working on the stone wall
a section of the beaver trail maintained by deer
On the final weekend of the restoration plan there were 15 workers from 4 families active on the Beaver Trail. Most of the trail is now brush-cut, as is the trail across the farm field. The chain saw crew cut most of the logs crossing the trail. The old, lower beaver dam was reconstructed to make the trail more accessible.
Proceeding beyond the plan, one more Saturday will see the hoped-for trail work completed!
the old dam before
a family hard at work
the old dam after