Jim and Phyllis House

They Took To The Woods

No, the House family does not live in northern Maine, but its not hard to imagine that you’re in Maine while standing on their back deck. There is a good chance to see wild turkey, deer or other wildlife species that depend on the forest for their survival. Jim and Phyllis own 110 acres of woodland which they purchased in 1987. Their property is located in Rensselaer County, just a few miles east of the Hudson River and twenty miles from the city of Albany.

Jim has always been at home in the forest. From early childhood, he enjoyed time with his grandfather on a farm near Rouse’s Point, New York. His Dad, an avid fisherman and golfer, taught Jim to love the outdoors. Jim’s uncle introduced him to hunting and conservation. In his youth Jim fished and hunted every chance he got and was also active in scouting. Being a forest owner was a life-long dream, and, after a 35 year career with New York State Electric and Gas Corp, he retired and was able to make the dream come true. A few years ago, Jim completed his Master Forest Owner Training. Others are now benefitting from the months of experience he has garnered in the management and conservation of forest land.

Phyllis, on the other hand, appreciates the beauty of nature but remains a “city girl at heart.” She is content to let her husband spend time in the woods building roads, cutting firewood, and occasionally selling sawlogs and even cherry burls which are highly prized by wood turners. Phyllis offers what she can to the Capital District Chapter of NYFOA in volunteering for various functions. Jim and Phyllis were recognized for their efforts at the 2006 annual meeting. A quilter, budding artist, scrapbooker, and genealogy buff, she also enjoys making silk and dried flower arrangements and other creative works. Phyllis also writes poetry and has the ability to write verse after just a few moments of thought. The following poem was recently composed over a lunchtime conversation at the kitchen table:

Our Forest

by Phyllis Lovelace House

In the dark and sheltered forest

One can shed life’s cares and woes

There is wonder in the findings

Of the seasons long ago

If the trees could tell the story

Of the world beyond the berm

Would the willow truly weep

Would the beech and maple squirm

No they stately hold their features

Tall protectors of the land

How I love the forest fathers

And the worthy timber stand

Most of the trees on House property were cut about 70 to 80 years ago in order to make charcoal. Millions of acres of marginal farmland in New York State were being abandoned by the early twenty century, and charcoal was a source of income for many Rensselaer County landowners. Trees that otherwise had little timber value could be made into charcoal, although not much was left after a charcoal cut. There is still evidence of the charcoal “bottoms” in the House woodlot, where tree trunks were stacked and partially burned to make charcoal.

Today, it is hard to imagine how much the landscape has changed from the early 1900’s. The forest has returned and, in the House woodlot, is rapidly approaching a point where thinning will be necessary to keep the most desirable trees growing vigorously. With the help of a new Kabota tractor, Jim has developed a woods road system for access because, as he says; “All of the wood in the world isn’t worth a dime if you can’t get it out.”

Jim and Phyllis are the parents of three grown children, who have also learned to love the land and enjoy all it has to offer.


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