Prepping for rain, sleet and snow

On hands and knees, Sid is prepping the annex for more concrete flooring scheduled for Tuesday.
Keeping the forest roads clear is more challenging as winter approaches.
Moving split firewood from the woods to the landing is nearly a daily chore in sunny weather. We are about half way done.
Moving the old water heater out of the way of the concrete pouring.

Firewood mounds growing.
This alleged “helper” takes a lot of breaks.
Who, me?

Master Naturalist Tour

On October 4, 2019, Kathleen led a group of 11 to parts of the Marys River watershed. City of Corvallis and Holly from the Council also attended (as did I – to help on the part of the tour featuring Shiver River .
Fish ladder on the South Fork of Rock Creek.
Rock Creek reservoir
Overflow area of the reservoir.
The uptake apparatus on the reservoir is in the background. It draws water to supply the City of Corvallis with drinking water.
Lobster mushroom unearthed on Shiver River property during the tour. Good eating, so I’m told.
Apparently this is not a good one to eat!

Firewood duty and game cameras

Bill and Kay loading firewood to haul to the house or to the stash we keep on the Loop trail.
In the meantime, Sid keeps on roofing …
Installing game camera #1 near a game trail at the entry to the forest on the Loop trail.
Camera #2 installed in the clear cut.
Deer photo from Game camera #2 in its original placement.
Same camera, but at night.
Game camera #1 caught a squirrel in action.

GT Article published

Shiver River, LLC is a true family affair.

The timber company on the flanks of Marys Peak just outside of Philomath has been run by three generations of family members since the 171 acres was purchased in 1921 for $5,000 by Marion Colfax Brent and Wladzia Moneta Brent.

Matriarch Emma Virginia Picht led the second generation. She was a pilot and also known for her ability to take out ground squirrels with a pistol. Five children have cycled in and out of the homestead: Kay Daniels, Judi Myers, KC Thompson, Diana Blakney and Sid Picht.

Some relatives still live in town. Some have moved out of state to places such as Philadelphia, Seattle, Chicago and Colorado Springs. And some have moved back.

“All of us spent a ton of time growing up here,” Blakney said.

Blakney and Sid Picht currently live on the farm, with Thompson also involved in its management. And you can tell that they intend to stay because Sid is building a huge outbuilding for farm equipment and also is adding rooms onto the main house.

And you can tell that they intend to continue to take care of the land by the way they treat it. The land was farmed in row crops in its early days, with tree farming taking over in the 1950s. Last month Shiver River was named Benton County Tree Farmers of the Year by the local chapter of the Oregon Small Woodlands Association. The farm will be up for state honors Oct. 26 at the association’s annual meeting and recognition luncheon at the Oregon Garden in Silverton.

Picht and Blakney took the Gazette-Times on a tour in their Polaris Ranger ATV. No doors or windows, but it seats three somewhat comfortably in the front and has a rear deck that can be used for firewood piles, tools … or the photographer.

It felt like a Disneyland ride, but the trees, dog (an Italian sheepdog named Bianca who romped ahead of the ATV), creeks and bumps in the road all were real. The temperature dropped about 10 degrees once we slid under the tree canopy and the air took on an earthy, mossy fragrance.

Shiver River practices uneven age management, which means trees of wildly different sizes and ages in the same stand.

“You don’t clear-cut it and replant,” said Blakney, who added that “mom always complained about clear-cuts. She said it meant no more crawdads in the creek and the water wasn’t as clear.”

“Maintaining and sustaining the natural beauty is the way to go,” Picht said.

Blakney and Picht credited Scott Ferguson of Trout Mountain Forestry with playing a key role in guiding the management and sustainability practices of Shiver River. Ferguson has worked with the family for 35 years.

And as we pounded through the property in the Ranger it hardly looked like a “tree farm” at all. Blakney and Picht pointed out the locations of recent cuts, which usually occur three to five years apart. They don’t burn the slash, Blakney said, “because it’s good for carbon sequestration, rebuilding the soil and wildlife habit.”

They leave everything alone in the 30 acres of riparian areas. A total of 110 acres are actively farmed out of the 140 acres that is forested.

“We’re mainly seeing 60- to 80-year-old trees,” Blakney said. “This was never an old-growth area. It used to be meadows.”

The property abuts both Starker Forests property and the city of Corvallis’ Rock Creek watershed, which supplies about a third of the city’s water. Private property owners, the city and nonprofits have been working together on habitat restoration, particularly on Rock Creek and Griffith Creek, both of which Picht plows through in the Ranger without even slowing down.

At Griffith Creek, where it seems for a moment that Picht is planning to take on a 15-inch diameter log, we come across Kathleen Westly, education and restoration project manager with the Marys River Watershed Council.

While Bianca cools off in the creek, the discussion ranges across stream temperatures, the log placements in the creek that are intended to improve fish habitat and a long-term goal of reintroducing the beaver to the area.

Westly says she has seen “chewed stands of trees but no dams. We would love to restore them. They are a keystone species in the watershed.”

We also take a short walking path to some red cedar saplings that have been planted in the past five or six years. There are no plans to harvest the cedars. They are there to add to the diversity of the riparian areas. And they like the wet weather.

Then it’s off on a white-knuckle ride in the Ranger back to the homestead, including a final uphill climb up a 30-percent graded meadow that seems impossible given that there are four “average-sized” adults in the ATV.

“We’re proud of what our mother has done here,” Blakney said. “All we’re doing is carrying on what she has done.”


Gallery: Shiver River Tree Farm

  • Updated 23 hrs ago


Name: Shiver River, LLC

Location: Philomath

Size: 171 acres

History: The property has been in the same family since 1921

Major species: Douglas fir, grand fir

Latest honor: Shiver River has been named Benton County Tree Farmers of the Year

Criteria: Should be someone that is doing an exceptional job of forest management, as well as someone working towards a balanced program that is meeting the needs and capabilities of both the landowner and the land.


Diamond Lake and MWM Mini-College on Fire

Diana at Diamond Lake. The Mini-College continuing education class and tour for Master Woodland Managers and took place here.
Snow for our tour of a back-burn area.
Our teacher. He was fabulous!
Lunch in the rain at a beautiful spot on the Rogue River.
Sugar pine cone!

Benton County Small Woodland Owners of the Year tour, September 21, 2019

Last minute prep – clearing the loop trail.
Installing game cameras.
The more roof, the better.
43 persons attended the tour, including family and our own farm forester, Scott. Judi and Kay stayed behind, prepping for the post-tour picnic.
KC listens carefully.
Bianca stole the show.
Crossing Griffith Creek.
Karen, who gave the large wood presentation, and Diana.
Dave, the organizer and co-leader with Scott and Karen, celebrates as the tour comes to an end with the picnic.

Windows, path clearing, and the tour preceding the MRWC annual meeting

Sid is building the frame necessary for window installation.
Nice job, Sid!
Bill and Diana toured Duffy Creek riparian plantings on Belnap property.
Steve the fish biologist led the discussion as did Kathleen from the Marys River Watershed Council.
Fish passage culvert on Duffy Creek.
Visited the clear cut today. Most of the seedlings look good.
Clear cut area
This skinny log fell across the road we will be walking on the tour.
Weed whacking and otherwise clearing a trail to riparian plantings and a Rock Creek big wood placement we will be visiting on the tour.

KC at the farm

Sid hurries to assemble his new tool chest before KC arrives.
Sisters and bro all in one place!
Diana and Sid with videographer Pat. On September 4, he videoed an interview with us and toured the farm in preparation for the video he is making for each of the Small Woodland Owner of the year nominees.
KC, Pat and Sid.