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!!!! Why I build trails all over my wild homestead

 
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Often when we build our gardens and growing areas, we aim to limit the size of our paths. But what if we did the opposite? Throughout my wild homestead I’m creating a number of what I like to call nature trails.

These trails are not just for helping with access/harvests but are instead meant to make my wild homestead a welcoming place for my kids and really anyone to explore and enjoy. The trails also provide other benefits.

All of this is covered in this week’s blog post—Nature Trails - 3 Reasons Why You Should Build Them—This post provides some tips and resources into how to build your own nature trails and then covers 3 benefits of these trails.

Make sure to check out that post. The following is a bit of a dive into how nature trails can help you live a natural life.

Nature Trails versus Paths



When you build a garden, you likely have paths between the beds that let you maintain and harvest all the yummy fruits, berries and vegetables. Because of this you likely try to minimize the size of these paths in order to maximize growing space.

That makes sense when the paths sole purpose is for maintenance and harvesting.

But part of wild homesteading is living a natural life that is integrated with nature. This means that the outdoors is also a place to explore, and simply live.

This means that paths often become nature trails.

Nature trails are not just for maintenance and harvesting but for adults and kids to run and play on and be part of their natural world. These trails will lead to hidden little nooks and sanctuaries and places to sit and observe all the life that exists on a wild homestead.

Nature trails are places to exist with nature—they are part of living a natural life.

A Different Take on a Garden



When I built my kitchen garden, I made it with no paths. Instead it has one big gathering area that will one day become an outdoor kitchen and living space.

There will be a sink with running water, a rocket oven, a grill, some sort of stovetop and places to store and clean dishes. It will also have enough room for preparing our meals.

Wrapping around the cooking area will be a small pond with cascading waterfalls and various herbs and other edible plants. Some of the plants will grow tall enough to provide some shade in the summer. A picnic table will be just off to the side with enough space for additional chairs and a foldout table for larger gatherings.

All of this in the middle of the kitchen garden.

This makes the kitchen garden a place for my family and our visitors to hangout and enjoy. It means that we will spend a large amount of our time outside in a semi-natural area surrounded by wildlife. Already we watch hummingbirds, other birds, and various insects visiting the garden—all while we sit on our picnic table eating dinner.

Later I will be building larger gardens that will be more focused on large harvests. But I’m already planning to have 1-2 winding nature trails that run through these gardens. Off these nature trails will be smaller paths that will be mostly for maintenance and harvests.

This way even these more production focused gardens can be a place for people to explore.

Living a Natural Life



The outdoors can to be a place where you don’t just visit but truly live. It can be a place where you make your morning cup of tea, prepare and eat your meals, do your paperwork, all while being surrounding by a natural abundance.

As someone who writes most days for my business (blog posts and soon books) I find I’m far more productive and inspired when I’m sitting out in nature.

Nature trails are just one way of making the outdoors a place to truly live.

While living a natural life is part of wild homesteading you can’t do that without bringing back the wild to your homestead. Nature trails also help with this by limiting soil compaction and by focusing human activities in chosen areas that then leave other areas open for wildlife to find sanctuary from us.

The blog post covers both of these benefits of nature trails in much more detail and also discusses a bit more about how they help us live a natural life.

Plus, you can sign up on the post to get a list of tips to help you build your own nature trails.

While you are over on the blog most make sure to leave a comment! If you are the first to do so you will get a piece of pie! The pie will get you access to some special features on perimes, discounts at some vendors, and you can use it to purchase some products on the permies digital marketplace.

If you leave a comment on the blog post make sure to leave a post here on permies too so I can easily give you the slice of pie.

Do you have nature trails on your homestead? Leave a comment below with your answer. I would love to hear from you.

Thank you!
 
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Daron,

Simply put, you have to walk somewhere and why bother having acreage and wilderness if you cannot enjoy it. I have thousands of feet of trails around my 9 acre property and none of them run straight.  This is deliberate as a curved and winding trail will never be visible from end to end, making the trail look longer than it actually is.

Most of my trails are in my grassy area (about 5-6 acres).  I keep these trails mowed regularly (covered in grass, not woodchips as yours are) and if I were to mow them today, I could find at least two dozen places where deer bed down.  By local covenants I have to mow my tall grassy area once per year.  I am deliberately waiting till around October for two reasons.  #1, I am keeping the deer habitat in places as long as possible.  Secondly, I have a lot of milkweed growing and I want to provide habitat for monarch butterflies.

Trails allow me to really appreciate these natural spectacles and leave them intact as well.

Eric
Staff note (Daron Williams):

Thanks for the comment here and on the blog post! Pie for you!

 
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I just spent a couple hours this morning working on trails on our place.  I want to have more trails all over our 20 acres so I can maintain the land better.  
 
Daron Williams
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Thank you both so much for the comments! Great to hear that you both are using trails to enjoy the natural abundance around you. Eric, sounds like you have a good balance worked out with your trails and the mowing requirements.

My current trails all have wood chips since they are near the house but I often take walks/hikes around the rest of my homestead which is mostly old pasture. Overtime I hope to establish trails through these areas too but at the moment I just don't know where they should go!

Thanks again!
 
Eric Hanson
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Daron,

Regarding your potential grass paths, I have a tool that is almost tailor made for maintaining paths.  That tool is called the flail mower.  

Now just to be clear, the flail mower was designed to be attached to a rear PTO and 3 point hitch of a small diesel tractor and I realize that not everyone can afford a tractor, but self powered models exist and these can be pulled by a riding mower or small atv.

For those who don’t know, a flail mower st first look, appears similar to a tractor powered/mounted tiller.  When I got my first one delivered the delivery guys thought it was in fact a 3 point tiller.  I had to explain to them that it was actually a mower, but they didn’t seem to believe me.  A flail mower works by flailing a set of cutter knives around a central barrel that runs perpendicular to the direction of the mower.  The knives are designed so that they sweep forward in the direction of the tractor’s travel just as the lowest part of their roll.

Flail mowers excel because they combine the best qualities of a finish mower and a rough cut/bush hog.  They will mow just about anything, including grass, sticks, woody vegetation, vines, etc.  but unlike a rough cutter, they leave the mowed surface looking as good if not better than a finish mower.  Whatever they cut, they really cut, shred, and generally obliterate so that the left over cuttings are minimal and all exhausted evenly out the back, so they don’t pile up like a finish mower that exhausts to the side.

I have used them in the woods because they are highly maneuverable (sticking out 2’ behind as opposed to 6’ or more for a rough cutter), and they handle weeds, grass, sticks and other woody material equally well. They are great on a trail as they mow weeds and leave them looking like fine grass.

I sold my old tractor along with all the implements.  I now have a much larger tractor but I don’t have a flail mower yet and I miss it.  I am looking at one that has a hydraulic side shifting offset, purposely designed to reach far too the side and keep the tractor out of the mowing path.  A section of my trails runs right along the interface of some grassy area and a thick living hedge that is becoming invasive and will take over my grass land if not maintained.  The ground itself is too rough for my riding mower and has a tendency to get neglected.  An offset flail mower is absolutely perfect here as I can mow the grass on the trails, mow down some of the young invasive brush before it gets too big to mow, and best of all, as I mow parts of the hedge, the tractor and more importantly my face stay out of the brush.

I realize that a tractor plus the flail mower is expensive, but if you do have the tractor, the flail mower is a really great attachment.  If you only have a riding mower, or 4 wheeler or similar ATV, a self-powered towable version might well do the trick as well.

Best of luck and happy mowing,

Eric
 
Tyler Ludens
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I make trails through our meadows with an electric push lawnmower.  Works great and I find it enjoyable exercise.

 
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Walk behind tractors such as the Grillo or BCS can have flail mowers added, are not break the bank expensive, are durable and have the added advantage of not compressing the soil as much as a larger tractor.

One of the big side benefits of creating trails (re-clearing old pony trails on our case) is that this creates opening in the forest that benefit birds. We’ve seen an uptick in the avian population the last few years. One night this summer I swear there were 10 owls surrounding our house one night hooting it up.
 
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James Whitelaw wrote:One of the big side benefits of creating trails (re-clearing old pony trails on our case) is that this creates opening in the forest that benefit birds. We’ve seen an uptick in the avian population the last few years. One night this summer I swear there were 10 owls surrounding our house one night hooting it up.



Exactly!! Building tails are the cheapest and easiest way to create edge effect and connect different "habitats". Its like creating land river/stream. It definetly increases numbers of criters, helps predators locate pests and find new sweet spots.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Stacking Functions:  New trail and erosion control brush berm.

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Eric Hanson
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James,

You are dead on correct about the BCS and Grillo two wheel tractors.  They are very capable machines and run real implements.  Though the 2-wheel tractor is much cheaper than it’s 4 wheel cousin, the actual implements are only slightly cheaper and much smaller than the 3 point mount mowers.  But this is still a bargain and is a great option if you just want to mow a trail.

On a tangent, years ago I embarked on a long term project of rehabbing/cleaning up my woods (3-4 acres) from a terribly strong storm.  The technical term for the storm is a derecho, and this one was termed a super derecho (check Wikipedia for May 8th storm, 2009).  We had category 2 hurricane level winds (sustained winds of 100mph).  My woods took a major hit, toppling at least 20 large and countless smaller trees.  The woods was a mess.  Trunks lay everywhere.  New growth was blocked and stunted.  Wild blackberries grew up with a vengeance, shading the few surviving small trees (and making acres of thorns so deep you can’t walk through it).

Eventually I got my tractor in and managed to maneuver my bush hog through the trees (I did not yet have a flail mower).  But this was a tough act as my subcompact tractor (JD 2305–small but mighty machine) with loader and 4’ rough cutter was 22’ from bucket tip to mower tail wheel.  Eventually I managed to cut some paths, but I was really wishing for a small 2 wheel tractor with either a flail mower or rough cutter as it would have been a lot more maneuverable.

So yes, a 2 wheel tractor can be a great option.

Eric
 
Eric Hanson
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Tyler,

Your trails are beautiful as is the small woods around them!  I love your borders!  Absolutely beautiful picture!

Eric
 
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The two wheel tractor does not get anywhere near enough credit. Around here we have "Kubota Farmers", and they own 3-4 acres of land and have 80 horsepower Kubota's. It really is WAY more tractor than what they need. Most could get by with a nice BSC tractor, and save a lot of money.

I bought my father a BSC 2 wheel tractor for his 3 acres, and he LOVES it. I can think of a dozen implements I want to make for it, but right now it is his baby, but someday I will inherit it, and will festoon it with all kinds of attachments.

Someday I am going to write a book about their capabilities. They can do so much, and so cheaply. When I do my sheep farming classes, I point out how a 4 wheel tractor "hay makers special" will cost a homeowner $27,000 to make hay. A BCS Tractor can make hay for animals and cost $9000 (Both had mowers, rakes, and balers). You do the math...$27,000 versus $9,000!!

For making trails through the woods, I cannot do so with my Kubota, but I could with my BCS Tractor for sure.
 
Travis Johnson
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I have quite a few trails on my land. After I am done logging I will take a bulldozer and flatten my main logging roads so that I can get back in the are with my Kubota tractor. Little by little more land is being able to be accessed by my Kubota.

I like to hike down these trails for a variety of reasons, and while I admit they get overgrown over the years as more and more time goes by, but they can be opened back up pretty quick.

On my farm, I have a pretty good access road plan that charts out where I want future access roads so that I can get to the most areas of my farm with the least disturbance of roads. I probably went overboard, but to this day i have a very definantive plan of what I want to do.

Roads are nice, but a necessary evil. They take up a lot of space when they are added up, so I try to tell people to really plan them out, and to use trunk line trails to get to the most areas, but not "loop trails" which really eat up valuable land.

But i have always said, by the time I get my roads done, we will all be using hovercrafts anyway! :-)
 
Eric Hanson
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Travis,

What in the world are your Kubota Farmers doing that requires 80 hp for 4 acres?!?  I have 9 acres and for 13 years I used a 24hp subcompact (JD 2305).  I splurged and now I have a 37hp JD 2038r and that is plenty!

Eric
 
Travis Johnson
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Eric Hanson wrote:Travis,

What in the world are your Kubota Farmers doing that requires 80 hp for 4 acres?!?  I have 9 acres and for 13 years I used a 24hp subcompact (JD 2305).  I splurged and now I have a 37hp JD 2038r and that is plenty!

Eric




I have no clue.

I had one Kubota Farmer ask me how in the world I log with my 25 HP Kubota? Well I have a winch. All my kubota does is get my winch in the woods. From there i can sneak back 150 feet back from my logging road, and in between trees, rocks and stumps, and winch out trees. A winch has 100% traction too. I get out 6 cord per day of wood on average, and 10 cord per day with my skidder. The skidder uses 40 gallons of fuel per day, and my Kubota uses 7 gallons. It has to be good going, but I make more money with my Kubota then i do my skidder per cord of wood removed.

I have hundreds of acres and I have a 25 hp tractor. It is not about size, it is about technique.

And I am an old farm, so buying a bigger tractor does not net me much. To get more work out of my tractor I would have to buy all new farming equipment because it was sized for my Grandfather's old Ford 900. My next farm tractor will be...25 hp. Even if I could afford a bigger tractor, I could never afford all the implements I have for a smaller tractor. I know this does not apply to someone with no implements, but for me, I do not see a bigger tractor in my future.
 
Travis Johnson
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My family and I often use these trails to access areas of our farm. A few years ago we hiked out in the woods, built a survival shelter out of fir boughs, kindled a fire, and made cocoa from water from a nearby stream. It was a lot of fun as a family, and showed our daughters that even in the winter, we do not have to stay indoors, we can enjoy what we have.

Once I even spent $70 on geostones, hiked out in the woods, hid the Geostones around a big rock we have, and then hiked back home without tem seeing i was gone. Then as a family we hiked out to the big rock, the kids "found" the geostones, and we broke them open. yes, I salted the mine so to speak, but the kids really thought they found gems on our land.

Edited to say: Note the bundle in my wife's lap. What do you do with a infant in the family? Bring her with you of course! To this day, that baby loves to be outside, and is not afraid of the dark!
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Eric Hanson
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Travis,

I have two questions for you.  First, is your winch a 3pt mounted one like you might find from wallenstein?  Secondly, is your Kubota a subcompact or a small compact?  I had a subcompact for years and it was great.  And you are right about the implements, if you already have them, may as well size your tractor to them.

Eric
 
Travis Johnson
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Eric Hanson wrote:Travis,

I have two questions for you.  First, is your winch a 3pt mounted one like you might find from wallenstein?  Secondly, is your Kubota a subcompact or a small compact?  I had a subcompact for years and it was great.  And you are right about the implements, if you already have them, may as well size your tractor to them.

Eric



My Tractor is a 1999 Kubota 2500 series, so it is not a sub-compact, but a compact tractor. I did not want to buy it at first, it looked too small, but then the salesman said, "If it does not work well for you, bring it back after 50 hours, and I will give you full trade for a bigger one, but you will be pretty surprised what it can do."

I was.

I never brought it back. I have 3000 hours on it now!

The winch is like a Wallenstein, but is a Fransgard Winch we bought about 30 years ago. It was worth every penny.

Today my favorite configuration is to have my tractor, with my winch on the 3 point hitch, and then my Walleinstein logging trailer onto that. In the woods I will back the tractor at a slight angle. This lets me fell a tree, run my winch out to it, up to 150 feet, then winch it up next to the log trailer. I can then lift the tree up and buck the log up without me dulling my saw in the dirt, load the log onto the trailer, and do that for about 4-5 trees. I then go out with the wood, about 1/2 a cord per trip with it barely touching dirt.

One day I had a blow-down in the woods. So I backed up to the downed tree, cut the root ball off, then limbed and bucked the tree. I loaded the logs, hauled them out to my sawmill, loaded the logs onto the mill, sawed the logs into 2x4's, and 2 hours after starting, I went from a blowdown in the woods to 32 useful 2x4's.

The point is, with these two implments working together, all my tractor does is get the implments into the woods. They really do the work.



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Tractor-Winch-Log Trailer
 
Eric Hanson
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Thanks Travis, I have a much better visual now.  And I have to say, that is an awesome picture and you have an amazing setup!

Eric
 
Travis Johnson
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The log trailer has its own engine and hydraulic system, so it can load wood (or dig with its backhoe) without having to have the tractor idle, which saves a lot of hours on the tractor.

But with its own engine, it works with anything that can pull it...tractor, bulldozer, or even SUV.


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SUV moving hay
 
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Eric Hanson wrote:Daron,

Regarding your potential grass paths, I have a tool that is almost tailor made for maintaining paths.  That tool is called the flail mower.  

Now just to be clear, the flail mower was designed to be attached to a rear PTO and 3 point hitch of a small diesel tractor and I realize that not everyone can afford a tractor, but self powered models exist and these can be pulled by a riding mower or small atv.

For those who don’t know, a flail mower st first look, appears similar to a tractor powered/mounted tiller.  When I got my first one delivered the delivery guys thought it was in fact a 3 point tiller.  I had to explain to them that it was actually a mower, but they didn’t seem to believe me.  A flail mower works by flailing a set of cutter knives around a central barrel that runs perpendicular to the direction of the mower.  The knives are designed so that they sweep forward in the direction of the tractor’s travel just as the lowest part of their roll.

Flail mowers excel because they combine the best qualities of a finish mower and a rough cut/bush hog.  They will mow just about anything, including grass, sticks, woody vegetation, vines, etc.  but unlike a rough cutter, they leave the mowed surface looking as good if not better than a finish mower.  Whatever they cut, they really cut, shred, and generally obliterate so that the left over cuttings are minimal and all exhausted evenly out the back, so they don’t pile up like a finish mower that exhausts to the side.

I have used them in the woods because they are highly maneuverable (sticking out 2’ behind as opposed to 6’ or more for a rough cutter), and they handle weeds, grass, sticks and other woody material equally well. They are great on a trail as they mow weeds and leave them looking like fine grass.

I sold my old tractor along with all the implements.  I now have a much larger tractor but I don’t have a flail mower yet and I miss it.  I am looking at one that has a hydraulic side shifting offset, purposely designed to reach far too the side and keep the tractor out of the mowing path.  A section of my trails runs right along the interface of some grassy area and a thick living hedge that is becoming invasive and will take over my grass land if not maintained.  The ground itself is too rough for my riding mower and has a tendency to get neglected.  An offset flail mower is absolutely perfect here as I can mow the grass on the trails, mow down some of the young invasive brush before it gets too big to mow, and best of all, as I mow parts of the hedge, the tractor and more importantly my face stay out of the brush.

I realize that a tractor plus the flail mower is expensive, but if you do have the tractor, the flail mower is a really great attachment.  If you only have a riding mower, or 4 wheeler or similar ATV, a self-powered towable version might well do the trick as well.

Best of luck and happy mowing,

Eric



After using a flail mower all summer, I am pretty much convinced that implement is better than sex.

Okay, that might be overstated, but not by much.

It sounds like your flail mower used hammers instead of knives? Mine uses knives, and I am okay with it. If I bounce off a lot of rocks they break, but at $1 a piece to replace, it is a small price to pay. I did find that I can sharpen them with a grinder, so I can get about 4 sharpenings before they are toast. That helps keep costs down too. And with sharp knives I can go faster by one gear in any type of mowing I am doing. I typically replace half my knives in the morning with sharp knives, then switch the other half at noon. That keeps me in 50% super sharp blades all day, and really allows me to mow. I am knocking off several hours per town compared to the guy that mowed these towns last year, so it makes a huge difference.

Here in Maine, up until a few years ago ONLY flail mowers could be used on road ditches because they throw the debris cut straight to the ground, but now with privatization of mowing, they have moved to bushogs again. That will end VERY soon. When they mow the sides of the road with them, they have to have the police block traffic as debris is slewn out into the road. It can not be overstated how safe flail mowers are.

The only two downsides I can see to flail mowers is that they do not cut such a big sapling off as a bushog, but that just means where you mow, you have to mow annually. Anything over an inch gets kind of questionable, but it is more knowing what tree you are mowing off. Mine struggles with a 3/4 inch oak tree, but it can mow a 2 inch pine tree with no problem. A popil over 1-1/2 inch gets troublesome too, so it really is knowing what you are mowing, and knowing what you should take on with a flail, and what you should not.

The only other downside, is flails cost more than bushogs, but they are such a superior product, that does not surprise me. You get what you pay for. My bushog just died, and made in 1965, it has done its job, but after having run a flail all summer, I am going to get a flail mower to replace it. As I said, they are better than sex.

Edited to say: I mow road ditches, about 34 acres per day in some of the hardest mowing a person can do. I will mow about 500 acres in a summer, so if I am impressed, for a homesteader making trails through the woods, they should consider a flail mower.
 
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I also want to give a flail mower some credit!

I never used one until earlier this year. The farm I work on is a market garden and we use the BCS 2 wheel tractor extensively. It's an amazing machine!

The flail mower is not only used to keep paths/trails clear, but we use it in the garden beds as part of the transition process. It easily takes out old broccoli stalks, tall weeds, fennel heads, you name it!

From what I can see it uses an extremely durable and simple belt drive, and the way that the blades swivel keep it from damaging itself too much upon impacts.

Hopefully one day I can get a pull behind flail mower for my ATV for my own personal farm, but budget is going to be tight for a while so I have been trying to make due...

So far I have been getting by on my home-made contraption, but I find myself replacing blades, belts, and having to weld the deck fairly often from path making abuse of the farm on this "lawn" tractor :) It does get the job done though...kind of!
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Eric Hanson
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Travis, Ty,

I feel like you guys are the preachers and I am the choir.  Flail mowers are great!!

Travis,

My flail mower was a little 48” BEFCO model equipped with paddle blades and not “Y” blades.  I was just a little iffy about having a mowed finish that had little ripples or grooves in them.  As it turned out, the paddle blades (which are completely dull by the way) worked amazingly well.  The finish was actually better than a regular rotary style mower.  I could mow just about anything (though your conditions are more harsh than mine).

And you are absolutely correct that they are much MUCH safer as they discharge all material right into the ground, displacing their kinetic energy into the earth.

Ty,

I like your contraption, if for nothing else, for its ingenuity.  You are absolutely correct about the 2 wheel tractors, and I can totally see using a flail mower to help clean up a garden.

Go flail mower!

Eric
 
Travis Johnson
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I love it Ty...and I am not an easy person to impress.

I really like homemade equipment because it is the Homesteaders ultimate way of sticking it to the equipment companies that really put it to most homesteaders and farmers...I mean $44,000 for a stupid machine that makes round balls of hay! Come on, so when I see something homemade, that works, it automatically generates a lot of respect.

I go back to the drawing board on my homemade creations sometimes too, and probably more often, the welder, but it works.

Along those lines, I cannot see any reason why a person could not build their own flail mower. They are pretty simple in design. The only challenging part would be in balancing the rotor, but one awesome thing my Great-Grandfather gave me, was his old machinists books from 1909. A lot of stuff no longer applies, BUT it also shows how they did things in 1909 technology. One thing they did was balance pitman shafts the old school way. It really is not that hard, so I think I could make my own flail mower.

I am not sure if I would use Y knives of hammers though???
 
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Daron,

Great post as usual. Our 11.5 acre property was logged heavily about 35 years ago (we think) so there are a lot of open trails, some straight and some crossing diagonally. We love these trails for vehicle access as necessary, but mostly for walking enjoyment. We regularly walk our property, talking about what we want to do, which is almost as fun as doing the work but unfortunately burns fewer calories. This has improved our appreciation of the land so much more than if we had to bushwhack our way through the ridiculously overgrown second growth forest.

Last winter the elk and deer made their own trails but used these man-made ones also. The trails seem to benefit everyone.

One benefit of our somewhat wide trails along the outer edge of our property is that they form a break in the trees that will hopefully mitigate fire spread if that ever happens here. It also gives us a lot of edges for interesting plant and fungal growth.
 
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I too build trails.

I have a tough as nails ZTR mower (grasshopper) and so blithely cut 5 foot wide trails in my bush.

This helps in removing firewood once snow is on the ground.

Having trails means I spend more time in my bush.  A win for both me, and athe bush.

 
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Wow, all you people with equipment make me jealous. We have 75 acres and every trail and road on it (and believe me there are miles of them from 900' elevation to 1200', across streams, through valleys and up and down hills). They were all made by me--by hand--using a chainsaw, a pair of loppers and a gas-powered weed-trimmer. I maintain them with just the loppers and trimmer. I have roads over 3 miles long and 30' wide that I did this way--by myself--so we could get to all the various wooded areas for cutting firewood. I even cut our 1/4 mile-long driveway through the woods by hand. In addition, I have built quite a few good trails to various points in the national forest next door (rather more primitive, but open enough that I could run with 13 dogs at one point. (I don't take them all at once any more since so many of them are really elderly, but when they were younger, it was probably quite a sight to see us all running along through the woods-- especially since they ranged in size from a tiny chihuahua/pomeranian mix to a Great Dane/pitbull combo and everything in between!)

I also build benches and tables to place in strategic areas (for rest and views) so I can sit and vegetate once in awhile when the notion strikes me. My husband thinks I am insane, of course, but it's kind of my thing.
 
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We have 80 acres we are developing. We plan on creating trails for walking and bike riding.  The other idea I had  and will implement and is really fun for kids is creating little outdoor magical “rooms”.  You could create a little nature altar with lots in earth minerals, crystals etc.  Throw in some candles or solar LED colored lights,   fairy objects,  and a bench. So when kids hike these trails, they have a little “room“ to sit down and meditate next to or just enjoy the magic of the room.
 
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The only equipment I have for putting in trails is a Stihl chainsaw and a Milwaukee recip saw with a Diablo pruning blade.  I use the chainsaw on bigger stuff, and I use the recip saw for things up to about 3".  The nice thing about the Diablo pruning blade is that I can cut stuff off below ground level and I haven't dulled my chain.  We are putting in a trail to a small clearing in the woods.  It is a very winding path, by design.  There will be others put in over the years.  Instead of putting in a grass lawn, we are going to put in an herb spiral garden and several small hugel beds in the front yard with wood chip paths between and among them.  We also plan on a sitting area between beds where we can sit and enjoy a beverage while enjoying the outdoors.

Thanks for the thread Daron.  Lots of great ideas in it.
 
Travis Johnson
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We have an annual outside concert event called "Rock the Flock". and it has grown over the years to the point where every year we are getting people here who camp over night.

I have had a hard time getting there, but the plan has always been to build a four season gravel road towards the west of the property where there is a stream, so vehicle access can happen, then put in some permanent camping sites spurred off that. These would include fire rings, gravel areas for pitching tents, and picnic tables. Eventually I would like some RV spots too, as inevitably we get several of them per year as well.

This would allow the campers to be nested in the woods, and have the stream as a sot of "water feature" if you will. I live on a big hill so I do not have much draw here except for the view. The stream would just be a quiet babbling little place to pitch a tent beside.








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I have been cutting trails across and around my 8.5 acres when camping this first summer. I have routed the path through woods and across the meadow making sure to pass interesting plants such as lilac bushes or fruit trees. As the trail system goes in, I am constructing hugelkulture beds using the material cleared or accessed  by the trails.

I used a scythe, hoe, shovel, loppers, rake, hatchet, crosscut saw, and a custom cart. The cart was made open on both ends with wheels in the middle to haul logs and branches. I built it out of a pallet, a couple 2 by 4s, and two bicycle tires. It can really handle alot of weight when balanced well.

These trails make it easy to enjoy and observe the wild plants and animals. The thousands of miles of trails that I have walked (mostly in the Appalachians) made me want to live closer with nature, so they were a priority to install on my future homestead.
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How many acres warrants a tractor do you think.
The BCS two wheel tractors look great.
dAZ
 
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On my 40 acres most of my paths are just expanding upon the existing game trails. The critters tend to know the best routes. So by expanding the existing game trails I help the wildlife able to move around better.

The deer and turkey have really taken advantage of the expanded trails, as well as the bear.

Not to mention it is just nice to be able to get out and explore without bush wacking.
 
Good night. Drive safely. Here's a tiny ad for the road:
permaculture bootcamp - learn permaculture through a little hard work
https://permies.com/wiki/bootcamp
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