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Options to clear 5 years of scrub trees

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  • Options to clear 5 years of scrub trees

    As our farm search continues we found a place that the elderly seller stopped mowing hay off of about 5 years ago. Lots of wild rose and sumac/other small caliber scrub trees. Definitely more than a brush hog can handle. Hoping for some recommendations how to get this cleared to fence and pasture. There is also a slope to part of the land. Falls off about 20 feet over 150 feet on one side of the property I’d like cleared.

  • #2
    This is 'dozer work. There are other options but one you use your yellow pad and calculate costs I think you'll find the guy with 'dozer is a bargain.

    Contact your local Extension agent for more advice.

    Then, once the trash is gone, decide on a grass that Extension recommended and take a soil sample. Then in the fall drill seed and do the fertilizer.

    Good luck in the project.

    G.
    Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Thank you G. My first call was going to be to an excavator but wanted some COTH reassurance this was the best first path. The seller suggested a "controlled" burn. That seems (a) dangerous and (b) excessive. Looking to clear about 6 acres, variably grown up. If an excavator is the way to go I'll have him prep the pad for the barn and dry lot in one visit.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by fourfillies View Post
        Thank you G. My first call was going to be to an excavator but wanted some COTH reassurance this was the best first path. The seller suggested a "controlled" burn. That seems (a) dangerous and (b) excessive. Looking to clear about 6 acres, variably grown up. If an excavator is the way to go I'll have him prep the pad for the barn and dry lot in one visit.
        You're welcome!

        There WILL be a controlled burn when you burn the piles of detritus that the 'dozer will make.

        Talk to Extension or Soil Conservation where you are and ask them for their advice. It will be very specific to your area and they may have other options for you.

        Good luck in your project.
        Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão

        Comment


        • #5
          Do not burn sumac. It LOVES a burn-- seriously you will regret it. I learned the hard way burning our ditch that had lots of sumac and was rewarded with a literal sumac forest that 2.5 years later I have yet to conquer. I think this is the year I finally 'get' it, and Garlon is my best friend in this endeavor, i.e. I've had to bring out the big guns in the form of a restricted-use pesticide.
          Don't burn sumac.

          Comment


          • #6
            6 acres would be more than I would want to do with one of these:

            https://www.palletforks.com/skid-ste...hoCAGgQAvD_BwE

            But thy are amazingly satisfying to use!

            Comment


            • #7
              Hire the guys with the bulldozer and backhoe / front-loader. They'll push it all over, scrape it up, and set it on fire. Then you can plant grass.

              (It turns out that the tracks left by the bulldozer are *perfect* for planting grass -- if you spread the seed and then use a chopper/blower to cover it with shredded hay or straw, it comes right up! It was winter and they used a DOT mix, we had rye come up first, and now bahia and possibly something else.)
              --
              Wendy
              ... and Patrick

              Comment


              • #8
                I cleared similar acreage a few years ago. My contractor brought over his track loader and cleared land in no time -- left the ground nice and level ready for seed -- pushed brush into piles in inconspicuous places-- piles are rotted down now, can't even see them.

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Thank you everyone, great insights. I hadn’t considered needing to seed after clearing. Duh. Of course I’m eager to get my guys home but this changes my timeline, a lot. If I clear in September I can plant immediately around here but won’t be able to meaningfully use for another year. Or, I need to put in a dry lot . . .

                  Very round figures should I be looking at bidding the job or by the hour?

                  Ill also need some trenching, pad sites, propane tank install and likely a bunch of other work so I’d like to find someone fair and relatable and treat them well.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    If you want to make one hire to accomplish multiple jobs like trenching, concrete work, etc, then you're looking at hiring a general contractor who would hire out subs for each of those. Which introduces another level of cost, since the GC will need to make a profit on top of the subcontractors' profit. Not trying to discourage you, because it will probably save you a lot of headaches and TIME. A good GC should be able to get all these subs to come much sooner than if you try to hire each one. This is because they'll see you as a one-off job -- you only need one propane tank-- whereas the GC will have past and future jobs s/he can leverage.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      You'll probably want to put in a dry lot _regardless_. There will always be somebody on a diet who refuses to keep their grazing muzzle on, or an insanely rainy season where you don't want them churning the pasture to mud, etc., etc.

                      I'm using Premier1 horse quick fence for that right now, to section off a sacrifice area inside the permanent fencing, for when the pasture is too wet. I was skeptical at first, it's just four thin plastic ropes, but mine totally respects it!

                      --
                      Wendy
                      ... and Patrick

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Talk to farmers in you area. You shouldn’t do it, but we have done a lot with controlled burns. However, you need a dozer and to build the fire lines FIRST. Appropriate ones for what you are burning. And for God’s sake don’t burn on a day with any wind.

                        6 acres is a lot and a controlled burn can save the clearing crew a lot of time. Plus it puts nutrients in the soil. It is not a bad thing....but you need a pro to handle it so you don’t set the county on fire.

                        i think a GC is largely a waste for a farm project. Unless they have special farm skills few are competent. The farm/landscape guy I hire to help me is far more useful. I pay him well and he grew up here and knows everyone. That is gold when it comes to farms. He can separate the wheat from the chaff.

                        every farm needs a drylot or 2. Never know when you will have an injury and need it.

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          The place is Zoned Ag in a Township that allows controlled burns/burning of remnants of clearing (with a permit). Hadn't considered that a viable option. Thank you all. COTHers are a great resource!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by HungarianHippo View Post
                            Do not burn sumac. It LOVES a burn-- seriously you will regret it. I learned the hard way burning our ditch that had lots of sumac and was rewarded with a literal sumac forest that 2.5 years later I have yet to conquer. I think this is the year I finally 'get' it, and Garlon is my best friend in this endeavor, i.e. I've had to bring out the big guns in the form of a restricted-use pesticide.
                            Don't burn sumac.
                            We had the Natural Resources and Conservation people out. One guy had a quote that I remember:

                            Leaves of 3, let it be (poison ivy), leave of 5, eat you alive (poison oak) and leaves of 7, go to heaven (poison sumac).

                            He mentioned that he knew several people who had burned sumac and ended up in the hospital with lung issues.
                            Great advice HungarianHippo

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              fourfillies Check with your local fire department. They do controlled burns here if you have 10 acres. Good luck!

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                We had a similar issue, but with honeysuckle in a neglected area, and hired someone with a Bobcat and a forestry attachment - ate everything down to mulch, and now we just brush hog/mow to maintain it. We weren't immediately making it pasture, so fine with grass growing in on natural timeline.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  We have easily removed small trees up to about 4-6 inch trunks by wrapping with log chain, and using tractor bucket to pull. The ease of this task is greatly influenced by your tractor power (we used 110 HP) and soil moisture. Six acres is a small enough area for a family project. Two people, one wrapping chain, and second driving, can accomplish a considerable amount in an afternoon. Large brush can be piled for burning when conditions permit. Running over the field with disc and cultivator prior to planting will look after any small growth.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by LilyandBaron View Post
                                    We had a similar issue, but with honeysuckle in a neglected area, and hired someone with a Bobcat and a forestry attachment - ate everything down to mulch, and now we just brush hog/mow to maintain it. We weren't immediately making it pasture, so fine with grass growing in on natural timeline.
                                    That's a very good point. There's probably a lot of grass under all that scrub, and if given the chance (by regularly mowing its competition) it will take over. You might want to try just mowing If the trunks of your scrub bushes aren't so big that they'll prevent mowing. See how it looks in a year or two and then decide if you need to completely renovate/reseed.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      We've cleared more than that ourselves with a small tractor and two tough teenaged hands, supervised by DH. They used chainsaws, a tractor with forks, winches, a chipper, and we now have a monster burn pile to contend with. Next time, I'd suggest hiring a team as Hungry Hippo suggests, but DH enjoyed the physical work, and kept him and the boys out of trouble every weekend all winter.

                                      That cleared ground is now a fertile patch of weeds and healthy undergrowth, perfect for wildlife, which was our plan.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        We cleared about 10 acres that hadn't been touched in over 10 years. Chainsaw and/or a tractor for the big ones that were in the way, and a brush hog for the rest. There was lots of grass underneath so we never bothered reseeding. It will only ever have 2-3 horses on.
                                        Before you start getting heavy equipment in there assess your soil. Wet summer with a ton of clay? You'll make a huge mess, equipment can get stuck, etc. Might be better to wait until the frost is in the ground, that's the only time we can do major work on our fields.
                                        If it's dry and sandy than you should be fine.

                                        Controlled burns of fields should really be done by the fire department. Burning piles of wood is more contained and can be done yourself. Look into permits and burning in your area. We're in the middle of an all out fire ban stretching hundreds of miles, involving dozens of townships. We'll need weeks of rain before anyone could consider a controlled burn of that size.

                                        Another poster made a good point about poisonous plants and trees. Don't touch them with your bare hands, and if you're going to burn them then make sure you have a proper mask and wear sleeves and pants. Hot, poisonous sap is not a nice thing.

                                        Comment

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