When you clear a lot of trees, large or small, it’s a lot of work. When you have little or no equipment, it’s even more work. This past weekend, we finally had a day to go work on our little 5 acre property. We’ve had a really busy spring (check out my blog Grandchildren, Vacation, Retirement and Graduation). We have a 17.5 hp lawn tractor, so that’s what we used. We also have an old lawn size utility trailer. Note: I removed the mower deck to get more ground clearance.
Our work clearing the “opening” so far has involved cutting many small to medium size trees. We wanted to save as many “poles” as we could. These are merely lengths of relatively small logs that are nice and straight and about 6 or 8 feet long. Thusly, we have many piles of “poles” on the lot.
We also have plenty of large trees left to cut, but that is for another day. Knowing that at some point, we will have to hire heavy equipment to dig up stumps and level the lot, we thought it would be a good idea to centrally locate all our “poles”. So, we are stacking our “poles” in a central location that is out of the way of any dirt movement work that will have to be done later. I saw an article somewhere (may have been Capper's Farmer) that showed how to build a “no dig” fence using poles like these and I would like to experiment with it later as time and opportunity allows. If all else fails, I can cut them down into usable pieces of firewood.
So as we began to load this small utility trailer, it quickly became obvious to us that it would be slow going. The little trailer couldn’t handle very many of the poles before it became overloaded. Additionally, the little lawn tractor is not built for such tasks. It would spin and loose traction easily. Even with my considerable weight on it, the tractor just doesn’t have the heft to pull the size loads we need to pull. When we hooked up to one of the larger logs, the strap even bent the front wall of the trailer down towards its bed. I was able to beat it back into position with a splitting maul, but we knew at that point we were asking too much of the little trailer. So, we figured out that in order to move the bigger logs, we are going to have to buy either a UTV or a small tractor. Anyway after adjusting our strategy (I cut that big log into two pieces for example), we were able to move about half the poles. We will continue to use this rig for the balance of them on our next work day. Then we will be done until we can afford to buy a piece of equipment of some kind. That’s OK, we knew we’d have to at some point anyway.
Even with the difficulties we had, we accomplished much. Our driveway and “clearing” are looking better and better each work day. We are excited about making progress however slow it may be. We did have an unusual concern on this trip, however. On the lot that adjoins our property to the west, someone has started a house. The heavy equipment operator didn’t respect the property line and pushed downed trees and brush onto our side of the line. I found the phone number of the contractor and called to let him know about it and ask that it be cleaned up. He promised to look into the situation and let me know. The next day I got a call from the party responsible for the work that did the damage. The guy was extremely nice and promised it would be cleaned up within two weeks. I thanked him and kept the conversation positive. Construction work is seldom precise. I knew that having been around it all my life. The amount of damage was minimal and once they clean it up everything will be fine, I want to always be friends with my neighbors. No one wins by letting situations like this become adversarial.
Finally, as we prepared to leave, I went on a walk around the 5 acre lot. I often do this because I so enjoy looking at how the land lays and plan an endless number of projects to build on it, farm it, and otherwise enjoy it. My wife came along a few steps behind (we were tired, we work hard). We hadn’t ventured out too far when we both at the same time saw them. Native azaleas. My wife ran to get her camera. My wife and I both love all kinds of trees, bushes, etc but have always had a special admiration for native azaleas. They are so pretty when they bloom and have such a wonderful fragrance. We’ve often talked about planting some native azaleas on our property at some point. We’ll as it turns out, during our walk over our lot, we found many native azaleas. Wow, maybe even hundreds.