Monday, March 12, 2012

Pasture progress

We were all very productive this weekend.  Well, at least on Saturday.

Paul spent the entire day with the dozer down one of the many hills.  I could hear the engine from the dozer, the occasional tree crashing down or a loud "CLANK" if it hit a particularly large rock, but I couldn't see him.  I admit that I'm always a bit leery when he's on Godzilla (the dozer) as I'm prone to fabricating horribly scary scenarios that involve skull-crushing trees, boulders rolling over or a multitude of other equally frightening (although unlikely) mishaps.

Rhiannon and I were busy planting beets, parsnips and turnips in the raised beds and keeping an eye on Annette (she wasn't going to kid until later that evening) but I finally gave in and we went to check on Paul.  I wish I had taken before and after pictures, because what he accomplished that afternoon was pretty much amazing.

For the past year plus, he's been clearing the trees from around the house and increasing the goat area to make it large enough to support pasture for the goats, Ms. Melman and Nugget.  You wouldn't think it, but there is an actual art to bulldozing.  Naive as I am, I figured you just pushed everything over and that was it.  But not only do you have to DO something with all that pushed-over stuff (duh!), but you have to make paths and open areas and work areas so you can maneuver the behemoth piece of equipment around.  So although it seems like it would be easy-peasy to relieve the ground of trees and rocks in order to make it suitable for planting pasture, it's quite time consuming.

Anyways, when Rhiannon and I got to where we could see down the hill, I was almost dumbfounded.  The Evil Forest was being tamed!  Well, at least some of it.  Where once there were downed trees (from the Ice Storm of 2009) and scrub trees, brambles, rocks and an untamed tangle of vegetation, there was now the beginning of some beautiful looking open areas and the little wet weather creek that I so loved was now just an easy stroll down the hill.

This is the Evil Forest.  It surrounded the house on three sides
with only about 25' (or less) of open grass between the house
and the rest of the woods.  Not conducive for livestock or a kid.
(This is the current view from the back porch.)
The house is just to the left of the first large tree.  Everything
to the right of it looked like the picture above this one before
Paul cleared the area last year.  And as a bonus, we're now getting
to see the hills in the background.  Before we only saw trees.
Rhiannon and I are standing on the top of the hill and looking
down to where Paul had been dozing the entire day.  If you
enlarge the photo, you can see the dozer way down there.

Remind me to take more pictures because I'd like to be able to see the progress as it goes.  

We left Paul to his dozing for a few more hours until I had to have his help with Rhiannon (Annette was going into hard labor) and he was pretty much wore out by then anyhow.  He would have been on Godzilla again on Sunday, but it rained the entire day.  Good for the plants, not good for dozing.  We're expecting dry weather and 80 degrees the rest of the week, so hopefully it will be dry enough that Paul can continue this weekend. 

I love the forest.  I love the feeling of being surrounded by trees.  But I guess I never considered the fact that all those animals that I would want required open areas.  Dumb, I know.  We (ok, Paul) had to clear for our berry garden.  Had to clear for the goat yard.  Had to clear for the tool shed.  Had to clear around the house for fire safety.  Paul and I are often at odds when land clearing comes up as I tend to want to keep every stinking tree even though I know we need to clear.  (Oh!  Save that one, it's a dogwood, or a redbud or a nice looking hickory.  Can't we keep any cedars??  What about that snag?  That's great nesting habitat for woodpeckers!)  We'll still have plenty of forest on our acreage, so I know I have to just get over it and let him do his thing. 

At least we're getting a lot of fire wood out of it, right?  And eventually a more suitable environment for the livestock and Rhiannon.


  1. If only we had a dozer - we have a multitude of stumps left over from the Commander cutting down the forest by hand with his chain saw. Luckily the goats and sheep like to chew on the stumps or they would last forever.

  2. Whew, that's a job of work. We were fortunate to have some cleared areas, else we'd be having to make the same decisions you and Paul are and yes, I'd be the one wanting to save the trees! We did fence in some of our woods for a browse area for the boys. Eventually we'll have one for the girls too. It's amazing though, to see your progress. A real farm in the making.

  3. There is definitely an art to dozer work and it sure looks like Paul has mastered it! It always surprises me to see what seeds are just waiting to sprout when the sun hits the ground. You may have native grasses galore.

  4. You guys are just like the pioneers of old, hacking a place for yourselves out of the forest! Great job!

  5. Chai Chai, those stumps are a pain! We have our share around here. I've heard you can drill holes in the stumps & fill them with corn, then let the pigs destroy the stumps trying to get to the corn. But one would need pigs then, I suppose :)

    Leigh, When we were searching for our place I would constantly complain how much pasture land cost. I now know why!

    gld, we had a bunch of grasses come up where he cleared, it's amazing to think of all those potential plants just locked away beneath the surface, waiting for the sun or a little dirt scraped away to come to life!

    Candy, Except the pioneers of old didn't have a Caterpillar D series bulldozer! We're lazy sloths if you think of it that way :)

  6. How awesome that you can get this stuff done so early in the spring this year, I don't even see any mud! :)