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Now that the heavy timber has been cleared, its time to do some selective thinning, trash removal, landscaping, cutting trees for fence rows, planning the water well and septic location,,, and the list goes on and on.Working at the Homstead

We arrived at the homestead Saturday morning around 9:30am. As the women were cooking breakfast the men walked the property to get an idea of what needed to be done. The goal of this weekend was to thin the timber leaving select trees. Trees were selected on size, health and location. I wanted to space the oak trees 8 – 10 feet apart, and pine trees about the same.

Breakfast was biscuits, bacon, fresh eggs, pan sausage and a low-carb monster energy drink to wash it down.


We had two people cutting with chainsaws. To reduce the risk of injury from falling trees the two saws were spaced far apart. When a tree fell, there was no way it was going to land on the other cutter. Most of the trees we were cutting were anywhere from a couple of inches to 12 inches in diameter.

We had 2 people running a chainsaw each (a Stihl and an Echo), 2 people loading the debris into the truck (Toyota t-100) who also drove the truck to the bonfire location, then several people unloaded the truck and stacked the debris.

Everything was going great, and as planned, until the chain on the Stihl chainsaw went out. The teeth that grab on the sprocket stripped out so the saw motor could not turn the chain.

Well crap, now we are down to one chainsaw. On top of one chainsaw being out of operation the bonfire would not start. I brought several pieces of dry oak to help get the fire started, but the green limbs would not catch on fire.

Even with 1 chainsaw things were running well. That Echo chainsaw cut more then its fair share of trees.

One of the goals of the the first day was to flag trees we wanted to keep, then thin the obvious ones that needed to go. One example was a 12 – 14 inch diameter sweet gum tree that was leaning into where the chicken yard was going to go. That tree was promptly cut down, cut up and brought to the bonfire.

Another goal of the first day was to thin out around the trash heap. This part of the land has not been used in close to 30 years. During that time various family members have used it as an impromptu trash dump. Most of the trash is metal, which can be hauled to a local metal recycler.

The scrap metal has been thrown into a washed out area of natural erosion. This creates a two phase issue – cleaning out the trash, stopping further erosion.

As day one drew to a close I think it is safe to say that things went better then planned. With one saw doing most of the work we were able to get a good bit of the brush and trash trees thinned out.

We were finally able to get a coal bed large enough to get the bonfire going. From sundown at 6pm to around 10 pm we burned log after log. It did not matter how green the wood was, once it hit that bed of coals the log burst into flames.

Lunch and dinner of day one were sausage and boudain on a bun with chips on the side.

On day 1 we worked for about 6 hours of thinning timber.

As we were sitting around the bonfire relaxing after a hard day of work the coyotes cut loose.

Day 2

Day 2 started out the same as day one, with a breakfast of biscuits, pan sausage, bacon, eggs and a monster low-carb energy drink.

After breakfast a buddy of mine and I looked at what we had done the day 1, and what needed to be done next.

I wanted to clear out where the water well was going, but the brush is well suited to a machete. Instead of clearing out where the well is supposed to go, we cut fence lines where the chick yard is going.

We picked out a spot that looked where a corner post was going, then cut a straight line to the creek, which was about 30 feet. 30 feet does not sound very far, but you have pine trees packed against each other, you have to fight for every foot.

Once the fence line was cleared to the creek, we turned 90 degrees and ran along a old fence line my dad and grandfather had put down in the 1950s and 1960s.

Along the fence line was a tree that was maybe 8 inches in diameter and half rotten. That tree came down and was cut up.

A rather large yaupon holly was in the way of the fence row. Even though my chickens love yaupon holly leaves, the tree was cut down to make room for the fence.

Lunch on day 2 was a cheeseburger with pickles, cheese and jalapenos.

Between day 1 and day 2 we got in around 10 hours of chainsaw time.

Observations

I would like to discussion various observations I made over the weekend.

Chainsaws – I had a double failure with the chains of my Stihl chainsaw. On one chain the guide teeth stripped so the sprocket was not able to turn the chain. Then my backup chain was so dull it would not cut.

I honestly thought my backup chain was sharp.

Good thing my buddy had his Echo chainsaw. If it was not for that second saw we would have been dead in the water.

Fatigue – After day one I was sore all over. My legs were sore, my arms were sore, back was sore,, that is what happens when you sit at a desk for 8 hours a day.

There are a lot of survivalist who plan on bugging out to the wilderness to live off the land. Yea, good luck with that. After the first or second day they will probably be regretting not having better SHTF survival plans.

Clearing land takes a lot of time – We spent around 10 hours thinning the timber. By the end of the second day the progress was clearly visible. Even with 10 hours and numerous truckloads of debris, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.

Two of the biggest time consumers is going to be cleaning up the trash and doing landscaping to fill in an eroded area.

Food fatigue – after eating mostly meat for breakfast, lunch and dinner, I was wanting some fruits and veggies.

Sausages for dinner on day one upset my stomach for several hours into the evening. A couple of people figured it was the grease from the sausages from lunch and dinner had taken its toll on my stomach.

There are several reasons why my wife and I want to move to the homestead, one of the reasons is to have access to fresh food. We want to grow our own beans, potatoes, onions, squash and raise our own chickens.

I hope to raise a wide enough variety of food to combat food fatigue.

Whats Next

Burning the tree stumps

Leveling the eroded area

Removing trash

Stake out house location

Stake out chicken yard location

Get water well drilled
 

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Kev? Do you have a wife who likes flowers?

I planted some daffodils on my land. The deer leave them alone, they double every year, and every spring I get armfulls of daffodils. The land is only 20 minutes from my house, so it makes for a very pleasant afternoon.

My own ill health is preventing us from working that land as I intended it to be worked, so instead I am working on Permaculture: plant once and pick for a lifetime. With the help of my youngest I have established daffodils and asparagus, and it looks like the American Plums have taken as well. I also have an apricot tree out there that SHOULD have taken, but this is Kansas and I am never sure what will have survived until it has lived through its first winter.

I am also thinking about establishing a perennial patch of Jeruselem artichokes, but that will have to wait until the ground is no longer frozen.

My origional plan was to turn it into a homestead, and that might not happen. It can, however, become a very usefull source of food and flowers. I found my State Forestry Deparment to be particularly usefull: the plum trees they sold me were tiny, but they are well adapted to the site and they were 50 cents each. They WILL grow!
 

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Be Prepared
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"Chainsaws – I had a double failure with the chains of my Stihl chainsaw. On one chain the guide teeth stripped so the sprocket was not able to turn the chain. Then my backup chain was so dull it would not cut.

I honestly thought my backup chain was sharp."

I've been in the tree business for over twenty years and I haven't seen this happen to anyone before. I wonder if the chain has been loose on the bar for a long time and it has caused that sort of damage? Some times the sprocket that connects the engine to the chain will wear out over time but the chain gets replaced many times more often than the sprocket, so it doesn't usually wear out before the cutting teeth get filed down so far the chain needs to be replaced.

Learning to sharpen your saw with only a file is a skill everyone trying to homestead needs to learn how to do. I suggest you get an expert to show you and practice this skill for yourself.

Just my opinion. Looks like your on the right track.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Kev? Do you have a wife who likes flowers?

I planted some daffodils on my land. The deer leave them alone, they double every year, and every spring I get armfulls of daffodils. The land is only 20 minutes from my house, so it makes for a very pleasant afternoon.
My wife likes flowers, yes.


"Chainsaws – I had a double failure with the chains of my Stihl chainsaw. On one chain the guide teeth stripped so the sprocket was not able to turn the chain. Then my backup chain was so dull it would not cut.

I honestly thought my backup chain was sharp."

I've been in the tree business for over twenty years and I haven't seen this happen to anyone before. I wonder if the chain has been loose on the bar for a long time and it has caused that sort of damage?
Thank you.

I have probably another dozen small trees to cut. Before its over I'll probably get a lot of experience sharpening a chain.

Next weekend we will probably be burning stumps and cutting more trees.
 

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Check with your local nursery/greenhouse about the daffoddils. You might be too far South for them to reliable survive. My mom is in Alabama and no daffodils for her. Plenty of other great looking native flowers for your wife though.
 

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Looks like Ya got good elevation up off the creek bed in the event it rises,I'm guessin 4-5 foot or more...Does the creek cut thru the property.?. You've got a wealth of fence posts...
 

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gard'ner
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How many acres are you homesteading?
I've been "on the ground" in East TX, beautiful area...
That's a good looking little brook in your picture... How close to the Sabine are you?

Edit: Never mind, I gogled Jasper TX.


Are you sure that you want to drag those trees to the bonfire?
While sweet gum has a bit of a bad name, I find that it burns fine in the wood stove... It's been wood-stove weather here...

I wouldn't bother trying to burn out the stumps... a lot of effort for something that God will take care of in his own time... I cut my stumps even to the ground and ignore them... I will cut the sprouts when they get large enough... Wait long enough, and they won't come back after being cut.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
How many acres are you homesteading?
I've been "on the ground" in East TX, beautiful area...
That's a good looking little brook in your picture... How close to the Sabine are you?

Edit: Never mind, I gogled Jasper TX.
This plot I am working on is 3 acres. I do not want to say too much about the details.

The ashes are going to be used for the pea patch / snap beans later this year.

The stumps have to be removed as they are in the middle of where the driveway is going.
 

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This plot I am working on is 3 acres. I do not want to say too much about the details.
Totally understandable.
I saw that you visited... You might be more interested in my other blog, where I show pictures of my personal garden...
http://gardens-in-the-sand.blogspot.com/

Like Kansas Teri, I'm serious about my flowers...

In reading your other homestead posts, I saw that you expect to pump water out of the stream in droughts...

Does your stream hold water in the drought? I've seen a lot of those brooks dry out in the summer dry months...

In my previous garden, I scouted out seep springs... After digging them out, I piped the water to my garden, using gravity. I also used a lot of soil amendments and mulches to encourage the garden to grow with a minimum of watering...
 

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angel waiting
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Have to burn them where they are.
We started burning stumps when we first started clearing our land now we dig them out and use them as line barriers (zombie barriers lol as I like to call them) around the perimeter of our land. When we have the tractors here we haul thme down back and I throw them on my Hobbit house ( a project of making a hideout within a group of stumps and branches from downed trees on the backside of our land).

Learning to file chainsaws is a must so is having hand tools (for backup).

Never eat large greasy breakfasts before hard work it's a good way to get stomache aches and give yourself the runs lol.
 

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Got to agree, burning stumps in the ground will be an exercise in frustration. You will need to dig them out because whatever is left after burning is going to rot out and leave a void anyway. Not a disaster if you have a gravel driveway, but a problem if you plan to pave it.

When you have the area you intend to plant cleared, start with a cover crop first. Till it in or lay it down on the ground with a scythe a month before you are ready to plant. I would select some grass or grain crops and plant them in the area for the chickens as well. Grow Organic is a good source for cover crops.
 
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