How To Clear Land by Hand

Clearing land by hand.  If you have been trying to loose 10 pounds for the past 5 years – this may do the trick.

I have a little advice for those of you about to make the “jump” to the country – if at all possible, try to purchase land that has some open pasture areas.  If you can find a piece of property with some open areas and some fencing that is even better.

We bought 23 acres of woods.  Well, there was a 4 acre peach grove with about 180 peach trees in it.  But other than the peaches, we had woods.

This is awesome if you want to hunt.  But if you want to have animals, crops, gardens, pastures, fields, grapevines or anything else…. woods won’t work.

We like to hunt.  We also like raising animals, growing food and open spaces.  Therefore, I am good at using a chain saw.

Huh?

The chainsaw is the answer to the woods problem.  Sorry if you are a tree hugger.  I like trees too, but my cows can’t eat trees and my garden can’t grow in the woods.  So, hand me the chainsaw.

The truth is, I’m not really “good” at using a chainsaw.  This is entirely beside the point because I LOVE using a chain saw.  And that is truly all that matters.  Chainsaws are power.  Chainsaws are fierce.  Chainsaws are epic.  Chainsaws morph me into Wonder Woman.

Hand over the saw – I got this.

Here is the target:
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We are turning this area into pasture for cows.  If you haven’t yet heard about my cow problem here’s an introduction:

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I LOVE having cows.  Those giant eyes.  Those ears that stick straight out off the sides of their heads.  Those giant cat-tongues.  The snuggles, the nudges, the kisses.

For the umpteenth time, we are clearing land, growing grass and fencing it in.  Because we like cows.

We have this mastered.

If you have never cleared land before by hand – the project can seem a bit daunting.  Don’t worry, you can do this.  If we can do it – anyone can!

Here’s the overview:

  1. Knock over all the trees.  This can be done with a backhoe or a chainsaw.  We do not have a backhoe.  We have chainsaws.
  2. Obliterate the fallen trees into manageable pieces.  This also can be done with a chainsaw.
  3. Orderly distribute pieces of trees.  For us this means:  chop larger pieces into firewood & stack behind the big barn AND burn everything else.  This includes all sticks, brush, bark, limbs and anything rotten.
  4. Grind stumps
  5. Harrow the field.  A harrow is a farming tool used to bust up clumpy uneven land.  After running a harrow over the landscape you are left with smooth ground ready to be planted.
  6. Seed the field.
  7. Stretch the fencing.
  8. Hang the gates.
  9. Buy some cows!

First, we are just going to knock down some trees and have a giant bonfire.

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First, DH took down all the trees.  That was the easy part.

How do you like my giant shadow?  The sun was setting, so I was 85 feet tall.  

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Once all the trees were down, the limbing and burning began.  Which is when all my chainsaw-master-skills come in handy.  🙂

land clear 1

Ladies, there’s nothing that says chainsaws are for boys.

Chainsaw work is probably one of my favorite farm chores.  If there’s a choice between mucking, cleaning, hauling, scooping, spreading, and chainsaw-ing.  Hand me the chainsaw.  I’m your girl.  This is a giant (dead) tree that DH cut down.  My job is to cut off all the branches and slice all the limbs into moveable hunks.  

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After I demolish all the limbs with my epic chainsaw skills, the limbs are carried to the burn pile.  We do save a lot of the lumber for firewood, fence posts and other uses.  The small stuff and dead stuff all goes to the bonfire.

clear land

No need for a gym.  This workout will do the trick.

Good grief my hair is huge.

After making 73 trips from the branch piles to the burn pile I went looking for reinforcements.
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Success.  This is why people had large families 50 years ago.

Free labor.

With me, DH & 6 kids all the sticks were in the brush pile in 15 minutes.  15 minutes.  That’s it.  15 minutes.  I timed it.  Amazing.

Many hands make light work. 

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All the kids were excited about the fire.  A fire is big fun on the farm.

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This was not a wiener-roastin’, marshmallow toastin’ kind of fire…… this was a stay back 50 feet-or-you-won’t-have-eyebrows-anymore kind of fire.

Once the land was tree-free, brush-free and stick-free we ran over the entire thing with a harrow.  A harrow is a tool you can drag behind a 4 wheeler that breaks up clods, removes weeds and levels out the ground.  You can buy one here.

When the ground was level it was time to spread some seed.  We seeded the entire area with a pasture mix and covered it.

You can use hay or straw to cover seeds.  I prefer to use hay, but in this case we used straw because it was cheap and we had a bunch of it.

Spreading the hay/ straw does several things:

  1. Holds the seed in place (so it doesn’t wash away when it rains).
  2. Keeps the seed moist.
  3. If you use hay, it re-seeds the land.  Because hay has seeds in it, when you spread hay around a field it will add a second layer of seeds.  This wouldn’t be enough seeds to create a pasture on its own, but it is a nice way to boost your chances of successful growth.

After the grass was on it’s way, we stretched the fence.

For these pastures (we divided the land into 2 pastures so we can use rotational grazing) we used high-tensile fencing.

I love it.

High Tensile fence is a remarkable way to fence in an area.  It wouldn’t work for smaller animals, but is great for cows and larger animals.  We were able to use trees through the woods for the fence posts (saving us lots of money & trouble).

High tensile fence is clean and beautiful.  It is super inexpensive and packs a powerful punch.  It can keep in a bull or other feisty animals because of the pain factor.

DH connected our high tensile fence to the (charged-up) solar-powered, electric box and touched one of the wires to see if it was hot.  Not only was it hot, it nearly through DH’s shoulder out of his socket.

Yup.  It’s on.

After the fence was stretched DH hung the gates and all that was left to do is buy some cows.

It’s hard to believe that this beautiful pasture was a wooded area.  What’s more impressive is that we cleared this and turned it into pasture with our bare hands.  It is stunning.

We’ve had several cows on the new pastures & they seem to enjoy it.  About half of the fenced in area is in the woods, which the cows love.  This is why you can’t see any cows in the picture – cows love woods.

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XO,

Candi

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