Expanding and Focusing

All of our land is not contiguous and all of it is not clear.  Several years ago, we purchased some at auction.  The previous owner’s parents had gotten sick and then he fell ill, so he was not able to care for his land for a number of years before we arrived on the scene.  In Tennessee this means the woods take over.  What was once acres upon acres of pasture became thickets like you can see in the left foreground of the picture above.

At first we hired a bulldozer.

Apparently we just needed to learn a lesson.

“What?” You say…

Never hire a bulldozer to clear land.  Never do it.

They take all of your topsoil.

Working on a long-term goal of building our herd and grazing year-round (grass is always cheaper and more nutrient-dense than hay), we need to clear more land.  With a bulldozer out, you’ve still got a lot of options.  There are tractor and skid steer implements galore.  None of these, of course, are as sexy as The Mulcher.  This monster literally drives through thickets and mulches trees to woodchips.

Very efficient, your topsoil stays in place, but they cost a fortune.  Not a small fortune.  They cost a literal fortune.

Upon the recommendation of an acquaintance, we rented a mini excavator last winter and ran a test for a few days to see how much we could clear with one of those things.  The test worked and we decided on a month-long rental this summer.

What am I talking about?  Think the arm part of a backhoe on a machine riding on tank treads, with a nifty little articulating bulldozer blade on the front with which to smooth out any mistakes.

I know.

This is where we get onto shaky ground.  Well maybe not shaky ground, per se, but definitely a grey area between play and work.

Yes, some may call this a toy.

Yes, it would be fun for you to rent this tool for parties, anniversaries, weddings… (the first night of rental my brother, Zach, hopped on and ran it from 8pm til 3am!).

No, you don’t have to have any machinery experience to have a blast.

Yes, I have asked my wife to rent one for my birthday this year.

No, this isn’t a sales pitch.

We’re a farm here, folks.  We’re serious grown-ups.  So, let’s call it a tool today.  And a tool it is.

You can see from this pic that one day’s work exposes ground waiting for grass seed.  The ‘tool’ neatly plucks trees right out of the ground, leaving precious top soil in place.  We then stack the trees parallel to the hillside in a long narrow ‘windrow’, discouraging erosion.

Next, we hope to find some cheap, cheap old, round hay bales to roll out as ground cover.  These we’ll let break down to build carbon in the soil.

If everything goes just right, we’ll also build some Inclusion Zones wtih electric fence and use our animals to fertilize and seed the land for us.

That’s a big if, though.  Today we’ve just got to remember to keep fuel in that thing.

 

Have we ever mentioned that our farm is open to you?

If you’d like to come visit and have us show you around, give us a ring and let us know.