Hey Kadence, best wishes on your efforts. Some techniques from conventional forestry that could be helpful:
- Think in terms of basal area (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basal_area
) in planning and in implementing plans. This makes it easier to see the forest through the trees. I get stuck doing silviculture because I think about every tree, but with a prescription based on species and basal area for a forest stand (area of homogeneous characteristics), it's much easier for me to walk through and apply a prescription: if basal area is 100sqft/ac and I want to bring that down to 60sqft/ac, I can figure out what kind of trees translate into what amount of basal area (using wedge prism as in "variable plot sampling", very quick and requires simple tool), then walk the stand systematically considering clusters of trees and removing X trees to drop basal area as desired, making selections based on the silviculture prescription.
- Plan out a silvicultural prescription and stick to it. Even better if you can mark trees for a prescription in a separate time than cutting, so you can focus on doing each process well, each one deserves careful attention (silviculture for forest health, cutting requires full attention for your own health!)
- As you mark out your plan in the woods: think about access, light and seed bank. Natural regeneration forestry is a lot about using logging to manage light and soil exposure. Think about how cuts will change what plants and soil get light. Also it can be worth marking out your trail in a thoughtful way, as it will do damage skidding logs out of the woods and you want to be strategic about that damage. The way I used to do it with a company was to mark all trees to either cut or not to cut in a stand, then we lay out trails to access all the cut areas, making trails high and dry and strategic about what trees will get banged up when dragging logs out.
I would guess shelterwood cuts (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shelterwood_cutting
) are appropriate for Ohio's mixed hardwoods, but that's a very rough guess lacking lots of important details. Reading up on good conditions for the silvopasture you desire, and appropriate cuts for the forest you're working with, is where I would start. Trying to find where those two converge: what change to the forest (e.g. reduction in basal area, species and age composition) suits the silvopasture, what cuts are appropriate to get the current forest there.
Eventually that all becomes more intuitive. But starting out if you can I think it's wise to be more systematic about it, to minimize long-term mistakes and build that intuition more thoroughly.