by Madeline Bodin.
Reprinted with permission from the winter 2012 issue of Tree Farmer magazine. Copyright 2012 American Forest Foundation, www.forestfoundation.org. Photos by Rob Amberg.
Mike Fritz slides out of his 4×4 utility task vehicle (UTV), grabs a long pry-bar from the cargo area, and wedges it under a rock in the middle of a cross-country ski trail, part of 20 miles of trails that weave through the 530 acres of land he owns with his wife, Vivien, in Marshfield, Vermont. About 445 of the acres are forested.
“When you see a rock like this with a white mark, that means I hit it with my mower,”Mike.
Autumn on the Fritzes’ Beaver Brook Tree Farm means preparing for cross-country ski season and sees Mike mowing each of those 20 miles of trails twice, then returning on a UTV loaded with hoes, shovels, and chain saws to clear culverts and remove rocks and trees to create a smooth surface for winter gliding.
This is the life the Fritzes imagined as software engineers living in Boston, before they bought their property in Vermont 14 years ago, and before the land itself revealed new possibilities to them.