Thinning Trees At The Farm
This article is part of the moving to the homestead series – part 1, part 2, part 3, clearing timber, part 4. 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.
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.
In another article we had talked about planning a cleanup day at the homestead. This was the day we put those plans into motion.
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 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.
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.
Burning the tree stumps
Leveling the eroded area
Stake out house location
Stake out chicken yard location
Get water well drilled
Forum Thread – Work day at the homestead
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