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Author Topic: Clearing an old pasture  (Read 1985 times)

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Offline aquinnk

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Clearing an old pasture
« on: January 16, 2021, 11:09:23 PM »
I recently purchased property that is nearly 100% wooded. There is a 1.5 acre area that used to be pasture, that is now small pine trees ranging from 1 to 4 inches in diameter. I would like to reconvert this area back into pasture. I would probably use it for a garden area. 

So my question is this:
Would it be better to spend the money to have a forestry mulcher come in and turn all of the trees into mulch ($1000+?), or use that money to buy a chainsaw and bike handle style brush cutter (I'll have to buy them either way)? Money is more an issue than time, as I don't mind going through and cutting the trees down, I just don't want to lose out on all of that soil improvement that the mulch would add, and having the stumps level with the ground. Does the mulch add enough nutrients to constitute spending the money on a timber mulcher? 

Offline Andries

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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2021, 11:20:03 PM »
If you want to use that 1.5 acres for garden, you'll want to deal with all the roots.
A root spade or a stump bucket on a good sized fel/tractor will pop them out pretty quickly.
Then mulch the tops and roots.
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Online Southside

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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2021, 11:33:25 PM »
Where are you located and how much top soil do you really have?  Pine suggests it might be sandy soil.  Soil disturbance / inversion can play a big part in the success of your garden.  Tearing out / grubbing stumps can be really hard on marginal ground, as a result a mulcher shines.  You can sub soil with certain mulcher heads meaning that the stumps would be disintegrated and become a valuable soil input.   

Myself I would look to remove the sticks and then put some cattle and pigs on the ground and let them address the stump issue.   
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Offline thecfarm

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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2021, 07:24:22 AM »
Good to see you posting.
Depends too on when the garden is going in.  :)  And how much work you want to do. I do that with just a chain saw and a bog hog. But the bush hog does not get down as low. I use to use a mini bush hog.  :D  That is just a lawn mower. If I got one year out of one, I was doing good. 
But I also have rocks to work around. Go down into the ground a few inches, will find rocks. Takes time and A lot of work to do that much of an area. Than the brush has to be burned. 
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Offline mike_belben

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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2021, 08:35:11 AM »
I too think putting livestock in is the most effective way to make this patch productive soil.  If it was good dirt itd have non pines like jim said.   A clearing saw to knock all the sapplings down in place.   This will provide sun on the dirt.  Throw handfulls of forage seed into it the brush and get your fence up.  One its greened up, a few animals. Pigs and chickens will landscape and fertilize it for you.  Theyll mash up the rotting brush and till it in.  Prevent the stumps from regenerating etc.  You can sell the grown pigs after.  Chicken will keep.the june bug grubs and flea beetles, cutworms etc in check.
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Offline moodnacreek

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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2021, 10:29:34 AM »
What I have done in a field like that is ride the tractor and brush hog around and around. The ones I can't run over get chain sawed and then run over. The lazy man's way. Do this mowing every time the weeds come up. Time goes by fast and you may get a plow through a section while the roots are rotting in another.  

Offline aquinnk

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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2021, 11:26:27 AM »
I'm in east central Alabama so the roots should rot fast, maybe in a summer or 2. The soil is somewhat sandy. I like the idea of putting livestock on it. I'm thinking for the ease of clearing quickly, I'll cut all of the larger trees and save the trunks for fencing and such, and burn the rest. Is it worth keeping the brush to let it rot vs just burning it to get rid of it? I wanted to do the forestry mulcher, as I like the idea of the trees turning back into soil, but I could really use the money elsewhere. Thanks everyone for chiming in. 

Offline thecfarm

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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2021, 01:28:34 PM »
Brush here will take about 10 years to rot, well in a pile it will. If cutting trees down, I cut whatever I leave in the woods in short pieces, I try for no longer than 2 feet. I know in 5 years it's gone, this is limbs smaller than 2 inches. 
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Offline mike_belben

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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2021, 08:15:52 PM »
If you have the means to push it up with a machine, get a dirt mixture into the diced up pile.   itll compost quite a lot in about 2 years, leaving only the bigger stuff intact when you push this enriched dirt pile back out. Manures and nitrogen from green matter improves the process.  So does moisture.   



A tractor with a single bottom plow can pluck fair sized sapling stumps up especially after a few years being dead.. But that also may bring a lot of bad dirt up into your topsoil if youve got thin soil over sand or sandy clay.  No till seems to be a better crop method in marginal soils. 

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Offline kantuckid

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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #9 on: January 18, 2021, 02:14:44 PM »
For a garden area I fail to see putting livestock on it after a chainsaw job as serving any purpose? In E KY cutting at the ground into pine post if 4" will sell as the smallest of post sizes they buy in my area. The roots will be there a very good while here and a pine tree doesn't regenerate? If you want a garden anytime soon meaning in the ~ next 6-8 years, I'd doze it and burn piles or rent a chipper and even then you'll likely need to go about building the soil to garden level fertility. In my area any garden if you don't have a dog nearby will require a deer fence too. We get by with a solar electric fence for deer but nothing keeps the coons out, short of a top fence over it all and even then they'll dig underneath. 
Good luck with the garden idea, it's a war zone out there! We fight off coons, rabbits, crows, possums, coyotes(they eat corn these days!), groundhogs, various insects, early blight/late blight and other soil borne goodies. Throw in global warming a weird weather patterns in recent years, you'll need some luck IMO. 

Never saw cattle eat pine roots and pigs may dig but hardly are they through enough to create a garden plot where trees have been growing. Yes, I have done what this thread is about. Some became garden for a few years, most was re-planted in Virginia Pine with alternate rows of EWP both from KY State tree farm seedlings. 
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Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #10 on: January 18, 2021, 03:06:52 PM »
We've always cut it off and taken any firewood or pulp, root rake it up into piles with the limbs, let dry a season, burn the brush. Be done with it. ;D
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Offline kantuckid

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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #11 on: January 18, 2021, 03:18:22 PM »
I had one smaller part of what I'd planted in pines that got turned over by an ice storm. It was small like the OP's  deal.  I had it dozed for about $500 and burned as swampydonkey says. Another spot the trees were near maxed out in  size and mostly all jack pine which we also call field pine or black pine here. I cut them and sold two log truck loads. Then, after seeing that it was decent soil for my goat farm type of land on these hills, I spent mucho money on strawberry plants and raspberry vines. The deer knew about it and ate virtually everything I planted there. It's now turning into a hardwood area naturally.   
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Offline Iwawoodwork

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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #12 on: January 18, 2021, 10:49:23 PM »
At your young age purchase good quality hand tools, chain saw and handle bar brush cutter that will last many years  and start clearing. Its good exercise and very rewarding, I have 6,3 acres at this site, steep hill side,  heavily wooded that I have hand cleared under brush and dead downed trees for fire wood. the front half is now almost park like the back half looked good until the big snow 2 years ago, now have several log stacks to bring off the hill.

Offline stavebuyer

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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #13 on: January 19, 2021, 04:53:39 AM »
I am a big fan of letting the stumps rot in place especially if the topsoil is thin. And doing it by hand you won't clear "extra" that you don't really need cleared and end up having to mow from now on.

Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #14 on: January 19, 2021, 04:39:44 PM »
Stumps take quite awhile to rot for some odd reason. It took 20 years for some box elder to rot out enough to remove by hand here. I kept pounding at them for years. But yet in the woods, 10 years after a clear cut any wood that laid on the ground was nothing but duff you could bust up with your boot. Softwood stumps are still persistent after 15 years. I have cedar stumps that are still hard/solid after 30 years.  Hardwood stumps were mostly gone in 15 years. When thinning with clearing saw, a nice spruce stump along your trail is nice for a seat on a rest break. ;D
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Offline aquinnk

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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #15 on: January 19, 2021, 06:53:05 PM »
Thanks everyone. I think I'll buy a good chainsaw and brush cutter and start cutting, as y'all have said. Then burn everything when done, but save some truncks for firewood and posts. I'm not too worried about having a garden too soon, worst case I can do some raised beds in the meantime.

Offline mike_belben

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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #16 on: January 19, 2021, 06:53:16 PM »
I push dirt up on my stumps to keep them wet and encourage all the decaying stuff to take up residence. Seems to help them get a little punkier compared to dry sunny stumps. 
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Offline reride82

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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #17 on: January 19, 2021, 07:27:39 PM »
If it were me, I'd get the saws to remove the material and chip(rent one for a day or two) it to compost it. You'll have lots of carbon from the mulching, so beg, borrow, or buy some nitrogen to layer into the pile(manure, dead animals, green vegetation, etc) then you'll have some awesome organic matter in 1-3 years depending how much you want to mess with the pile. Burning it tends to send most of your carbon up in smoke.

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Offline stavebuyer

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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #18 on: January 19, 2021, 07:32:05 PM »
Stumps take quite awhile to rot for some odd reason. It took 20 years for some box elder to rot out enough to remove by hand here. I kept bounding at them for years. But yet in the woods, 10 years after a clear cut any wood that laid on the ground was nothing but duff you could bust up with your boot. Softwood stumps are still persistent after 15 years. I have cedar stumps that are still hard/solid after 30 years.  Hardwood stumps were mostly gone in 15 years. When thinning with clearing saw, a nice spruce stump along your trail is nice for a seat on a rest break. ;D
I cleared off my garden by hand(west KY). Worked around the stumps. 4-5 years the maple and hickory gone. Red oak a couple years behind. White oak persisted the longest but what was left could be grubbed out with a small tractor in under 10 years. But KY things rot here pretty much year round.
Cruising timber here; Oak/Hickory forest the tops are pretty well gone in 5 years and most stumps in 10.

Offline aquinnk

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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #19 on: January 19, 2021, 07:45:53 PM »
I've thought about going the mulcher route, but without a tractor it would be difficult for me to push such a large pile around to get it to compost, and then spread. 

Offline Walnut Beast

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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #20 on: January 19, 2021, 07:53:02 PM »
Just get it mulched. No piles, no jacking around 

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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #21 on: January 19, 2021, 09:00:46 PM »
The amount of year round soil activity and resulting organic matter consumption in the south vs the far north east can not be compared.  That is good and bad.  Want your timber trash to break down - it's gone in a few years.  On the flip side if you leave your tilled soil with no cover crop - well then your top soil is also gone in a few years.  There is no deep winter sleep of the soil down this way.  
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Offline mike_belben

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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #22 on: January 19, 2021, 10:39:10 PM »
The land of everything that you dont want growing rapidly, and of everything you do want dying of bugs or blight.
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Offline thecfarm

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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #23 on: January 20, 2021, 06:32:22 AM »
Let me post a couple pictures of my pasture clearing.

This one had really nothing bigger than a 1 feet across for trees. Yes there was a few clumps of white maple that made stumps 3 feet across. Most was no bigger than 1 foot. No before pictures, but you can see the tree line. This was thick grown up woods. I cut all the trees with a chain saw. I kept what I wanted for firewood and made a brush pile. I hauled all the trees to a brush pile and bushed the brush into a pile with the bucket. Most times I would only haul 2 trees to the pile. Anymore was just a tangled mess and hard to see and get at the limbs. I kept this clear with a trimmer and a lawn mower. I call the lawn mower my Mini Bushhog.  ;D  If I got a year out of one, I was doing good. Stumps are hard on mowers.
You can't see all the rocks in the picture. I have a 5 foot bush hog now. There are many places that I can't even fit between the rocks and there are even more that I can mow right over.


 

Than this one.



 
I cut all the trees I did not want, and kept this clear with a trimmer and a lawn mower.
I have no idea how stuff grows in AL. I am in ME and those stumps will put out suckers. It's a full time job to keep up on the new growth. And I am not talking about twice a year mowing this. I said a full time job. I did not have a bush hog at that time. And to tell you the truth I don't think it would of done much on the regrowth part. I was trimming off the suckers as soon as I could see some growth with a string trimmer. Yes, it took time, but I was cutting them way down to the stump. There would be nothing left when I got done. Than I would take the lawnmower to it a couple times a year to get all the other stuff that would try to grow. The first 2 years are the hardest, busiest, full time!!!! Takes a lot of time to keep up with it. After five years, grass starts to come back and I am just about done, now it's part time work.
Bigger stumps need to be recut too. As the ground settles around them, the stumps seem to grow.  :D  that takes time too.
I have a 3pt logging winch on the back of my 40hp tractor. On the small stuff, that I  did not want for fire wood, I would lay down a 8 foot chain and put the small trees on top of the chain. I could haul quite a bundle of small stuff that way. Probably 3 feet across.
Yes, it can be done by hand, but takes a lot of time that way. Just keep at it, full time, and don't say, I will get to it next week. The more you work at it, the quicker the job will get done.
In your case, it will not matter. I have some EWP, an easy 2 feet across at the stump that I cut down and I am still mowing around them more than 15 years later. I was able to get out about 5-6 last year. Still 5-6 left to mow around. And those stumps are still nice and hard. Red Oak will hang onto for years here too.
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Offline kantuckid

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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #24 on: January 20, 2021, 07:33:57 AM »
Fact: OP is 24 years old.
 Fact: Telling me at that age that I could have a nice garden spot in 5-10 years would not have been very logical :D
Fact: Pine trees don't put out suckers.
Fact: Livestock tromping around doesn't make a soil area better. I will agree that the buffalo did fertilize the praries but they also moved around a lot by habit.
Fact: A park-like area is not a garden spot as seen in pics above. Looks nice though.

I'm just glad to see someone young who takes an interest in having a garden. 
OP can PM me when that garden spots ready and I'll share some very interesting heirlooms seeds with him.
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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #25 on: January 21, 2021, 08:14:20 AM »
Correct on the pine will not put of suckers. 
But on my land, disturb the soil and I have nothing but EWP coming up.  :o  It's just like a good carpet. That mini bush hog does a good job on them.  ;D
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Offline kantuckid

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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #26 on: January 21, 2021, 08:27:42 AM »
EWP story- I dug up 5 wild EWP seedlings then transplanted them near to our new house I was building in 1979-80. Contrast those 5 EWP's to the thousands I planted in late 1990's which came from genetically selected state tree farm seedlings and now much larger then the older 5. My 1990's trees are so much bigger it's amazing!
 My general point is that it's worthwhile to use good stock if an area is to grown back in trees, when logical.  
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Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #27 on: January 21, 2021, 10:50:29 AM »
Some of that is not genetics. It can also be shade tolerance or shade versus sun grown. I've seen white pine 30 years old and not even 5 feet tall. I have seen white pine 30 years old and 50 feet tall. Even when transplanted from shade to full sun, those early growing years affects trees greatly. The soil conditions, add that to the equation, then add microclimate. ;D

Seen it in red spruce to. Oldest red spruces found are over 400 years old and not even 20" diameter. I have found 160 year old red spruce 36" diameter, big as white pine. ;D
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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #28 on: January 21, 2021, 01:05:18 PM »
Add to that the soil compaction from building a house and you really can't compare the two situations.  
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Offline kantuckid

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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #29 on: January 21, 2021, 01:39:54 PM »
FWIW, the house aspect is a non-factor in my point. The "slow ones" are adjacent the road coming up to the house but on the edge of a wooded area, not a construction site. The tree farm EWP's are on the same exact soil type beginning about 50 yards from the 5 older trees. One of the 5 planted when I was building ended up too close to my gravity fed spring water cistern and is twice as large as the other 4 which might be 100' away-it had lots of water near its roots and it's very close in size to the younger plantation trees. They do in fact choose genetically superior stock to grow at my nearby state tree farm-so said the forester I was working with. Same is true for the Virginia Pines in the alternate rows in my plantation. 
Back to garden plots... ;D
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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #30 on: January 21, 2021, 02:19:35 PM »
They do in fact choose genetically superior stock to grow at my nearby state tree farm-so said the forester I was working with.
Back to garden plots... ;D
What that entails is 1) selecting seed from dominant trees, expressing desirable traits (phenotype), in a stand of like trees, 2) grafting cuttings from such from the crown, that is 'mature' and flowering age, onto host plants and then breeding with controlled pollination or 3) cloning older parts of the tree with rooted cuttings or grafted to root stock that will flower sooner than a young tree. Over time you cull undesirables. This is a slow genetic gain process, but quicker than nature. When you replicate the experiment over different sites in the species range within the same latitude you select the better genotype of that species to grow in the nursery for planting in a certain region. I've read articles from forestry journals a couple decades ago that said the genetic gain was within 2%, nothing huge. ;D
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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #31 on: January 22, 2021, 08:24:39 AM »
Plant Genetics: I've been searching for an open pollinated extra large, productive jalepeno pepper seed, which would allow not being forced into an F1 hybrid  to start our plants. Whats often called a heirloom. On ebay I ran onto lots of what I'll call opportunist seed sellers. They were simply saving seeds from an F1 they grew or bought at the store and reselling them with no selection process, which as you point out is laborious, to say the least. 
I found one seller from the mtns in GA, my age who had done that work for me and was selling the Mucho Nacho Jalepeno pepper seed at the point of F8 or so. She said she'd lost track at that point so might have been longer in years. In KY, the wood industry is huge and a 13 billion $ plus industry. There are several tree farms scattered around the state and one is ~ 20 miles from me. 
I suspect they know what they're doing as they are staffed by tree experts and grow hundreds of acres. I had a kid in my KYARNG platoon who worked there and always felt sort of sorry for him as he got laid off every winter and destined to never get a retirement as it was called part time work. The trees are available to the public and sold in wrapped bundles at a great price point too. 
FWIW, I used to read forestry journals too as my wife worked at our local USDA Dept of Agriculture Job Corps center thus there was a forester holding down a desk job there (like always they leave the woods for the money) and he saved me his forestry magazines so I could learn about something I've never studied formally. 
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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #32 on: January 22, 2021, 11:16:07 AM »
I've had the opportunity, albeit brief, to work with 2 tree geneticists at Forestry Canada. That doesn't make me an expert by a long shot. But I learned how stuff happens. In about 2000 we were cutting red spruce the size of large white pines off a town lot, we were cutting at the time seed should be ripening. I gave one of the folks I worked for a call, and let them know if they were interested in red spruce seed off very large trees, they should come on up. He knew exactly where to go when  gave him a brief run down of the location. Some of the seed was collected and put into cold storage to preserve the genetics. A bunch of seed I sent to the provincial tree nursery. Later forestry companies were interested in the seed for their own nurseries, notably the Irvings for their freehold lands. Provincial government grows all their own trees for crown (pubic) lands. I don't know if they grew any seedlings themselves off the seed since I switched gears by that time.

Just one of them things you don't forget. ;D
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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #33 on: January 24, 2021, 11:46:10 PM »
My $.02:
1.5 acres is an awful lot of garden. You might find that it is easier to manage and keep up a smaller plot. Maybe consider starting small and expanding if/when necessary.
It also sounds like a tractor is not in this picture.
That means your main day-to-day gardening implements will be your body, hand tools, and hopefully at least a mower.
Your time and energy are your most available resources, and you dont have lots of money to throw at this.
With all of that in mind, I'd say to go the chainsaw / clearing saw route and get some exercise. The chainsaw is the better of those two options IMO. Flush cut the pines low enough for a mower to clear the stumps, and forget about removing the stumps - your going to be toiling in this garden with shovels and hoes, etc. so there is no concern about plowing into them, right? If there is a 1' gap in your row of crops because of a stump, who cares?
Maybe better yet, cut the pines off at 3-'4 high and delimb the stump and now you have a post for hanging your hat or resting your beer on while your toiling. Or you have half of a trellis to grow your cucs on. If you find you dont like it you can flush cut it later.
If you're cutting other trees/bushes that will resprout, paint the stumps with an herbicide - there is lots of info about that on this forum.
If your married to the idea of keeping the mulch and organic matter, rent a chipper for a day and feed it the brush youve cut. A brush pile will be a motel for many of the critters you dont want in your garden, so keep that in mind when you decide whether to do it, and where to put it. Burning gets it gone quick, but is the least effective and can be counterproductive in terms of amending the soil, and will leave an imbalanced patch at the burn site (assuming you burn it as a pile).

With all of that being said, if you go the skid-steer-forestry-mulcher route, you might also find that a set of forks on that skid steer can be stabbed through the soil at the base of the tree and grub the whole thing up at once (to be mulched after). Or it may be done after the mulching to pull just the stump. I like to set the forks close to each other (~1') when doing this. These are 1-4" dia trees, right? This would depend on the soil that you are working in.


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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #34 on: January 25, 2021, 12:23:03 AM »
Yeah a 1.5 acre garden will feed a football team, and keep them busy all the time.  Too big for most families. 
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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #35 on: January 25, 2021, 04:42:24 AM »
I kinda chuckled when I read the original post again, "1.5 acre pasture" stood out. What did it pasture?  A trailer? :D

Well considering I have several things going on here on 1.5 acres. I have berry gardens, fruit trees, grapes and veggie gardens. Of course there is green lawn area in between them. But if you consider all that, 1.5 acres isn't that much. Certainly will keep you busy, but not full time unless you like standing and waiting for a weed to pop up so you can pluck it. :D :D I cut brush and mark out lines all day and still tend gardens. That ain't noth'n that one man can't tend. Vine stuff takes a lot of garden space, tomatoes to. You use a pile of cukes and maters in pickles and sauces and not have as much as you think you might after it is all processed. With maters, making sauce you'll use many x's more maters than you think to make a couple pints of sauce. :D Takes a lot of berries to make any amount of juice. Won't be growing near enough to make 12 bottles of juice I bet. :D  

Feed a football team, "I think you'll need a bigger garden". :D
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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #36 on: January 26, 2021, 03:49:00 AM »
I kinda chuckled when I read the original post again, "1.5 acre pasture" stood out. What did it pasture?  A trailer? :D

Well considering I have several things going on here on 1.5 acres. I have berry gardens, fruit trees, grapes and veggie gardens. Of course there is green lawn area in between them. But if you consider all that, 1.5 acres isn't that much. Certainly will keep you busy, but not full time unless you like standing and waiting for a weed to pop up so you can pluck it. :D :D I cut brush and mark out lines all day and still tend gardens. That ain't noth'n that one man can't tend. Vine stuff takes a lot of garden space, tomatoes to. You use a pile of cukes and maters in pickles and sauces and not have as much as you think you might after it is all processed. With maters, making sauce you'll use many x's more maters than you think to make a couple pints of sauce. :D Takes a lot of berries to make any amount of juice. Won't be growing near enough to make 12 bottles of juice I bet. :D  

Feed a football team, "I think you'll need a bigger garden". :D
Evidently tundra gardens are different. I'll side with Mike. 3 crop rotations in the same dirt each season is typical for me. I started mowing last year in early March and mowed every 4 days until Thanksgiving. Living where the temps and humidity are both commonly the 90s; I think it would be amusing to watch someone show me how to do hard labor in the mid-day sun and then hand them a hoe around 5pm to try and weed in baked clay with the thermometer tickling 100 and the air dead calm.

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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #37 on: January 26, 2021, 06:18:24 AM »
You have to work smart, is all it takes. Early mornings Saturday, Sunday, evenings on cloudy days. A garden does not require your presence every to do hard labour, many days your just inspecting your plants for health or picking something to eat.  Our summers here are increasingly in the 90's from June to September. Not the historical norm for us, but true for the last 4 summers. In fact the first 90's days last year were the end of May, the previous 3 years the first week of June. We do one garden crop a year up here, that's the same work as 3 rotations. No harder to hole a row for a seed as to hoe for weeds. Fruits only flower once a year, one crop. And grass, when it is dry and hot, grass is rarely mowed, it doesn't grow. Not up here at least. Last summer, I never mowed more than 6 times and it is never moved in September. Some old farts do, something to do with themselves and ride around doing it. Mow it every 3 days, blowing more dust than grass clippings. :D

Hay on fields is typically cut twice a year, after August the hay is not as good as June-July.

My gardens are small but lots of them. For instance one patch can grow cukes that the beetles never bother. If I plant them on another patch I have the beetles devour them. Have not figured out why to this day. My English cukes grow as big as zucchini, if I let them. I don't let my gardens get overrun by weeds as you see below. And I use zero pesticides, zip. Last summer I had to haul water on my SxS all season, no rain at all for months. Would not have had a garden at all.

One of my many gardens.



Some folks must have more stuff after work to do than tend gardens, I don't. I like to garden, so the garden gets full attention.

That little strip of green between the beets is parsnip, they will be harvested this spring. :)

Grapes on a new garden. Frost hit them hard after they flowered last spring, but they came back. And then we had to head off the robins and blue jays, as they had planned a raid that we interrupted. :D

earlier in the season



Juice, elderberry, grape, blackberry.



Notice the dead lawn, not going to mow much this week. :D

spaghetti sauce. Trust me, 5 gallons of tomatoes does not make a lot of sauce, maybe 2 pints. :D



Some of us are quite familiar with hard work, thank you very much. Thank goodness for winter. :D :D :D

Come on up and use my clearing saw for a 40 hr week and I'll give ya a $500 bonus. :D
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Offline thecfarm

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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #38 on: January 26, 2021, 06:27:28 AM »
Gardens can take some time. Some think they can plant and have weeds higher than what they plant and than wonder why the garden don't produce much.
I have grass across the road, an old field, that will produce grass almost year around.  :D  Before they ditched the road here, I have mowed that with a stocking hat to keep the grass down so when they plow the road I could rake the rocks out of the grass easy. But up by the house I have no more than 2 inches of top soil. Not much mowing going on come mid July.  ;)
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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #39 on: January 26, 2021, 07:23:00 AM »
Having grown up maybe 75 miles west of you SD and now living down this way I can say the growing condition differences are impossible to comprehend until you experience it. 

Yes, I remember some 90 degree days, and it was hot, but down this way it is just plain oppressive when it is 90 and 90 at 9:00 PM for weeks at a time. It rains here in the summer and you really don't want to see the sun come back out because it's gonna get nasty. 

Right now my Daffodils are up a few inches. Night and day difference. 
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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #40 on: January 26, 2021, 08:16:58 AM »
Having grown up maybe 75 miles west of you SD and now living down this way I can say the growing condition differences are impossible to comprehend until you experience it.

And yet, early 20thC they did it in the south or starved. American economy back then was mainly agriculture until the war. You see old film of early tractors that came to market, they never had them here for years after. Not before the 50's in fact. There was no money, they didn't give them away. Yet my great grand father farmed 300 acres with horses and men. 1-1/2 acres? :D
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Offline mike_belben

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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #41 on: January 26, 2021, 08:24:44 AM »
Well, the OP doesnt sound like your grandad, so im sticking with the concept that 1.5 acres of garden is a lot to jump into first time for a fellow who hasnt got a chainsaw yet and has to start with woods.  

;D
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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #42 on: January 26, 2021, 08:36:08 AM »
Gardening's not for wimps. New book. :D
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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #43 on: January 26, 2021, 08:45:59 AM »
People here make a living on 1.5 acre market gardens, but these are intensely managed, multiple crops per season where possible etc.

If it's a home garden yeah put in some grape vines they take up a ton of space, some fruit trees of a couple varieties, berry bushes, then your annual row crop garden space isn't so big you'll never bother to weed it :D

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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #44 on: January 26, 2021, 10:14:39 AM »
your annual row crop garden space isn't so big you'll never bother to weed it :D
How much ya want to bet? :D Grass, thistle, burdock, purple vetch and dandelion all want to take over in this part of the world. If you let that trash take over like the 'kids' across the road do, you ain't got no berry garden. :D Should see their raspberry and rhubarb, now rows of burdocks and other tall weeds. Oh it's gut busting laughter. :D These are folks with "intensive" gardening. Yeah, making fortunes. I want that book. :D :D


Some of you fella's I can tell aren't gardening much. There is a time of year you get a big flush of weed species, then that quiets down and you more or less groom it keeping the weeds at bay without having to cover every square inch with the hoe. Mulch is your best friend, and not the kind full of weed seeds. ;D
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Offline mike_belben

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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #45 on: January 26, 2021, 11:01:09 AM »
My garden is the size of a living room.  I have no issue with weeds.. Sawdust and grass compost just keep going ontop.


But the sun here in the southeast will scorch a crop like nothing, even without a water interruption.  I have no qualms with lugging buckets. Next is just wave after wave of bugs.  For me its flea beatles, cucumber beetles, june bugs, hornworms, cutworms, aphids, and a variety of catapillars.  You go to bed with a nice row of lettuce and next morning it looks like an umbrella frame. Turn your back for a day and something eats it.  Or.. You get that all settled and a neighbors chicken shows up to peck every fruit you slaved for. Click click boom goes the feather pillow but not til he wrecked a lot of work.


And then a week of summer thundershowers where the air is just a curtain of water particles 24/7 present the perfect condition for a huge blight to take the next wave out. Even the trees are splotched 50 feet up or even leafless on a bad year.  It looks like fall in august.


Youre pretty close to insulting a lot of peoples hard work by insisting its a piece of cake.  Youre free to come give it a shot if you dont believe us.  Outdoor organics is incredibly hard in the southeast without chemicals.  All the neem oil and beneficial bug youtube stuff is a bunch of crap too.  The places where it works, are NOT the same as the places where it dont.  You have a beautiful garden, i respect your knowledge and i know you know what youre doing there.  But you aint done it in georgia alabama carolina yet. 
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Offline mudfarmer

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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #46 on: January 26, 2021, 11:14:38 AM »
your annual row crop garden space isn't so big you'll never bother to weed it :D
How much ya want to bet? :D Grass, thistle, burdock, purple vetch and dandelion all want to take over in this part of the world. If you let that trash take over like the 'kids' across the road do, you ain't got no berry garden. :D Should see their raspberry and rhubarb, now rows of burdocks and other tall weeds. Oh it's gut busting laughter. :D These are folks with "intensive" gardening. Yeah, making fortunes. I want that book. :D :D


Some of you fella's I can tell aren't gardening much. There is a time of year you get a big flush of weed species, then that quiets down and you more or less groom it keeping the weeds at bay without having to cover every square inch with the hoe. Mulch is your best friend, and not the kind full of weed seeds. ;D
I think my thought wasn't stated clearly or you completely misunderstood. I was not saying that you would not -have- to weed it, just that it would be smaller so that you -would- weed it, which was part of the topic of the discussion (a beginner biting off a 1.5acre garden).


Also do not understand why you are laughing about "intensive" gardening. Like you said to me one time, there are plenty of books with info so have a look in some of them. Who knows you might learn a new trick or two?? Nobody is making a fortune here growing vegetables but there are families providing a living and that is all that I stated.


As for the rest... Yes it looks like you grow a nice garden but a lot of other people do too, and it would be wise to give them the benefit of doubt without making pith poor assumptions and as mike said bordering on insulting ::) ::)

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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #47 on: January 26, 2021, 12:18:31 PM »
Not really trying to insult anyone. But I am very used to local folks trying to insult my intelligence about farming and gardening that is it sometimes ridiculous. Sometimes you just have to smile and wave back. Maybe I'll do less typing and more smiling.  :)
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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #48 on: January 26, 2021, 03:51:15 PM »
Three words - warm season weeds - never saw such a menace up in The County, but get down this way and it is a world of difference.  I have zero issues with cool season weeds, grasses, etc - but that all changes about the 4th of July.  Thistle was up earlier this month and growing in the pastures, the burdock down this way will eat your burdock for breakfast, it's a different plant and very, very, aggressive.  Ever seen sicklepod? Johnson Grass?  Try killing Fescue.  It's just a different world.    
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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #49 on: January 26, 2021, 05:42:34 PM »
I'm sure there are weeds down there we don't have, one needs to be vigilant. I've dealt with a pile of burdock and thistle over the years. Those do get roundup, but it is not on my gardens, more at the edges or in the lawn strips and also on my property edge some burdock seeded in I suppose from wildlife. The neighbor's farm is perimetered in the stuff and the wild turkeys love it in winter. ;D In the berry rows they are uprooted by hand and shovel or hand spade. Chickweed, purple vetch or barnyard grass can be very aggressive if you let it take hold. I never give it much chance. I even pull that grass when it is barely up, you can just see a green spec. I remove a lot of vetch from the berries and grapes or you'd have nothing but vetch. ;D Weeds slow down a lot after late July up here, they are making lots of seed by then and the dryness will turn any new germinate a dwarf in dry dirt. ;D Once your garden is up and filling the rows with foliage, weeds haven't much chance. :) I only see one bug of concern around the grapes and that is flea beetles, they also eat basal. I spread the basal in different locations and small clumps. The bug doesn't touch the grape leaves until almost the end of August. I squish'm like tater beetles. I never have many tater beetles, but some. Gotta keep them squished. Firm believer in healthy plants, I see the results in my beet experiment. Kept them healthy with water and nutrients, no black spot or leave holes. No sprays. No corn borer in my corn, never even seen a moth. Years ago when the garden was run down on nutrients they was around. I'm not a corn man, I think it wastes garden space for all I eat. So decided not to grow any this year. I never buy it in the store. I'd rather have nice string beans, fresh and mustard bean pickles. :) Our burdock will grow head high, in case you forget, ~6'. They usually prefer the best ground. They are stout enough to make walking sticks with, the neighbor a mile down the road makes them. Rugged enough? I know, I said "what!?!" to. :D
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Offline mike_belben

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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #50 on: January 26, 2021, 08:29:01 PM »
I dont know what any of those weeds are.  The flea beatles hit everything first.. When the yellow cuke beetles show up my cukes are destined to get the blight shortly after as well as most cucurbits.  I will go from beautiful fruit to 1 in 3 being edible if you overlook the ugly.  No way sellable.  Junebugs and caterpillars are last.  I will pull 20-40 a day out of that tiny garden and then go around spot spraying another hundred a week atleast.  One briar can have 30 on it all mating away.  The caterpillars i get wreck my kale until it gets too cold then bug problem are over but so is most of the garden!  Drives me crazy. 
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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #51 on: January 26, 2021, 09:33:47 PM »
I haven't forgotten what the burdock is like, just saying these are on steroids. 6' is not a problem at all.

Gregg Judy has a YouTube video where he turns 300 head into a burdock patch that showed up after a flood. You literally can't see the cows through the weeds.

Mike is spot on when it comes to blight, rust, wilt, etc.  Heat, humidity, and zero air movement, perfect storm.  We actually are going to triple if not 4X the foot print of our garden this year, without adding any plantings to speak of.  Going to hill a lot more and leave a LOT of space between rows so the sun can get down in there and keep the plant bases from rotting out.  

On the subject of weeds, can't believe I forgot about the king of them all down this way - Pigweed, especially Palmer Pigweed - the one with sharp, hard, spines that run up and down it.  That stuff will germinate from March through October, and does not take long at all to have viable seed later in the year.  

Lets say you manage to get your corn in by late March.  Now if it's sweet corn the smut will take it over, assuming it didn't turn to 95 degrees the week it tasseled out, if it's sileage then it will be off by late August.  As soon as that ground sees sunlight it will explode with weeds, and even in August and September there are enough days for Palmer to produce 1 million viable seeds per plant before the killing frost.  It's a massive problem in the south now, the chemical response was to go to 2,4-D, but now even that doesn't work.  Nature will find a way.  
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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #52 on: January 27, 2021, 03:24:57 AM »
Forgot to mention, we do get a lot of 90's days up here now and certainly over 80, but thankfully our summer is shorter than yours. 90% humidity with 90F heat is the same no matter where you stand. ;D It will take the 'p***' out of ya. All the extra water your drink'n, see? :D The last 4 years have been brutal, especially when on the end of a clearing saw. ;D We usually start cutting by 5:30 am depending on how far the travel. You can get a lot of ground cut between 5:30 and 9:00 am, by 2:30 pm you're on the way home, often by 1:00 pm. That's still almost 8 hrs on that saw. ;D Back 10 years ago, for 3 years, I was saying, "is the sun ever going to come out"? Rained 3 out of 7 days a week. I mean rain, not that mist.  Farmers couldn't even hoe the taters. A lot of them now have them big tractor/airplane looking sprayers, no hauling big tanks behind anymore.:D
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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #53 on: January 27, 2021, 08:04:53 AM »
I tell people all the time that the dog days of summer are the same in both places, we just trade a few winter months for summer months.  The different isnt so much more intensity (like hawaii.. Thats sun is a lazer) but lack of shade.  The northeast US is much more expensive and crowded with building.  Very little horizon to be seen and lots of shade to hide behind.  The south has so much more wide open. My yard down here i have to move about to follow the one spec of work shade or get burnt to a crisp. 

 

I will have something growing from like late march to maybe november.  But i never succeed with corn.  


I asked around and at a consensus of recommendation, tried sevin one time in the garden on plants i knew werent gonna put up any more fruit, and it made no difference i could see.  Still had variety of bugs.  So i took to blasting the japanese beatles directly with it on a lap around every other evening.  we call'm june bugs here not sure if thats correct.. they sure venture beyond their calendar appointment!  The 5ft high brushy weedy edge growth all around me supports swarms of them.    And i realized they were the white ground worm ive began stomping every time i see them.  so i hope last years reduction makes a big dent this season.



There are some old NY hippy transplants been here 40 years that i know and they grow year round with plastic tunnels.  Actually in the tunnels their stuff grows like wildfire!  I couldnt believe the photos.


I had too much going on for it this year but i think a lot of my solution will be going to more cool season gardening under plastic.  No bugs or blight to swear at.  Summer time hobby farmers are all over selling cheap out of truck beds in parking lots so why not support them more?  
Psalm 37:16

Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #54 on: January 27, 2021, 09:31:00 AM »
Our June bugs here are huge fat things in the lawn under the roots that the skunks dig and eat (white grubs). They fly at night, and thankful for screen'n or they would buzz right on into the house. They are big like dung beetles. Lots of skunks around by the dozen. ;D

"Cheap, out of truck beds" don't compute up this way. You're $3 for 3 lb of carrots in the store will be about $9 from them. :D Your probably used to $2 eggs down there, your not going to get them from the hobby guys up here for less that $6.50 a doz. :D I can get them for $3 if I go out of my way, or get them $3.50 in store with the rest of the groceries. :D
No amount of belief makes something a fact. James Randi

Offline mike_belben

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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #55 on: January 27, 2021, 10:23:31 AM »
Eggs get pushed on me free my a friend with a chicken problem.  Thankfully i hardly ever deal with skunks any more.  Had to shoot a mess of em under my shed in mass.


Theres no money on this plateau.  14 an hour is a lifer wage.  Someone can ask what they want but theyll just be bringin em home to rot.  Theres one guy i see in one particular spot always packing up a full load as "rush hour" ends.


Its meth marlboro and mountain dew so that whole organic thing hasnt really took off yet 

;D
Psalm 37:16

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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #56 on: January 27, 2021, 10:43:08 AM »
I don't deal with the skunks, they deal with the grubs. They can dig all they want on this lawn. Father always called it a ram pasture, so ain't hurt'n noth'n. :D Besides, skunks is purdy critters. Skunks like to rob eggs. :)
No amount of belief makes something a fact. James Randi

Online Southside

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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #57 on: January 27, 2021, 12:47:38 PM »
I leave the skunks alone as they eat a lot of grubs, same as the possum since the suck up every tick they can find.  
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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #58 on: January 27, 2021, 02:40:02 PM »
how many acres total?

My 2 cents
spend your $$ carefully, they are hard to come by, try to have $3,000 in reserve
get the chainsaw and mower, echo makes a good general use chainsaw

raised beds = Good
Greenhouse = Better

2 fuel tanks, one diesel and one non-ethanol gasoline
can be 55 gallon drums with hand pumps with water separator filters.
one pump gasoline rated

then get a tractor, diesel, minimum of 30 HP and 4x4, with front-end-loader (FEL) with skidsteer quick attachment

attachments, front or back
rototiller
disk plow
skidder winch with trailer hitch
box blade, or grader blade
pallet forks, i added 2 extra forks to make a tractor pitch fork

I have used Agdirect.com for forestry loans.ALWAYS get Fixed Rate

Future - get a sawmill. the Wood-Mizer can be modified to cut wider.
https://forestryforum.com/board/index.php?topic=84823.msg1297441;topicseen#msg1297441
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"let the machines do the work"

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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #59 on: January 27, 2021, 04:59:42 PM »
Fence it, 48 inch woven wire. and add some goats to that previous  list  (big ones,not pygmy or nigerians)  to the 1.5 acres they will quickly  eat /destroy anything tree wise you don't need a chainsaw to cut.

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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #60 on: January 27, 2021, 05:22:42 PM »
And they will readily trim what falls!
Trying harder everyday.

Offline aquinnk

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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #61 on: January 29, 2021, 02:15:43 AM »
Total land I have is 13 acres, all woods currently, except a roughly 2 acre pond and 2 creeks. The entire plot used to be apart of a very large pasture, but was broken up over the years and is now mostly trees. The area in question was always grass up until 2014, which is when the pines made their stand. No more I say. I bought an echo 410u, and have been making good progress. Lots of scrub pines everywhere.

I should've been more clear with the 1.5 acre usage, as it won't all be one big garden. It's just me for now so I'll probably have a .5 acre garden, maybe some chickens and turkeys as well. Really it'll be my open area, with multiple uses. I just wasn't sure if having all of the pines converted to mulch was really worth the expense, which after reading everyone's comments, I decided it wasn't.

Here are satellite photos from 2014 vs 2020. In the 2014 photo you can see where the pines started to spring up.



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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #62 on: January 29, 2021, 04:12:31 AM »
It's a constant battle for sure. A 1/2 acre garden will certainly feed ya. A lot of the time and garden will have a large viney plant spot that can take a lot of space. Chickens will be in the greens, they will also eat bugs. ;D Up this way an unattended pasture can become a really thick spruce grove (limbs intertwining neighboring tree limbs) in 15 years or aspen grove. I have been watching a little patch on a neighbor and it is solid spruce thicker than grass. :D
No amount of belief makes something a fact. James Randi

Offline mike_belben

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Re: Clearing an old pasture
« Reply #63 on: January 29, 2021, 09:38:46 AM »
that pine don't waste any time.  in 2015 i mowed a row of seedlings i didn't know was there.  they're approaching 10ft tall now. 
Psalm 37:16


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