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In over my head.

 
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So I keep running into the obstacle of not being able to find a contractor to bring a backhoe or excavator out to my land because of the bridge leading into the property. None of the neighbors have any heavy machinery that works. Is it possible to do this actually by hand and small power tools?

Here is a basic description of my land: 6.3 acres with a triangle shaped close to the south east corner of the parcel. From the pond to the parcel line there are large boulders that I do not plan to split and move at this point. Diagonally back from east too west there is a 100 foot wide strip of mostly brush and small trees up to the corner of the pond, here there is a small berm/hill and a large oak. From the jeep/atv trail to the berm is about 450 feet. Facing west there is another large oak directly across the previously cleared area about 100 feet away. Heading to the western edge of the property is dense woods that I would like to find a way to utilize for food. This has a slight rise in elevation with the south west corner being the top of the ridge.

Here is a list of my goals that need to be done before we can live there:
Brush cut and cut small trees for a driveway about 15 feet by 100 feet. Save all wood for future projects ranging from hugle mounds to cordwood sheds.
Brush cut and clear a parking area for my bus large enough for it to turn around in and clear a garden area I'm not sure how large this has to be?
My bus is 40 feet and I don't maneuver it gracefully. I would need to fence the garden with chicken wire at the least. I will use a rototiller attachment from trimmer plus to start this temporary initial garden space. Right now I have enough plants started for 10 4x10 beds but our community garden is shut down.
Brush cut a path for the solar electric fence near the bus for goats to begin brush clearing and make a skid shelter to move from pen to pen as well as make a sturdy shed near the bus. Until I know the land and neighbors well I want to keep animals close at night.

Goals I want to accomplish as soon as possible:
Create an earth bag storm shelter/root cellar. Is this even possible without a backhoe or excavator to clear some land and dig a hole? I'm thinking I can put my kids to work digging and filling bags while I do other projects?
Build a frame for an IBC tote for gravity fed water while we scour the property for a potential spring and/or well digging site. How on earth can I dig a well when no one will bring in machinery?
Stock the pond that is over grown with algae I have only seen turtles near it and have not caught any fish when fishing. I will also be getting ducks and geese to enjoy the pond.

Long term goals:
Having a safe happy, healthy and hardy homestead that my children and I can enjoy for years to come.


 
gardener
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Wow, Gail, that’s an ambitious set of goals and what a dilemma without a regular excavator or backhoe.

Normally I am not a fan, but might you be able to find someone with a tractor with a backhoe attachment?  I am talking about an ag tractor or compact utility tractor and not a full sized construction machine.

Alternatively might you be able to rent a compact excavator for weekly rates?  Maybe operate yourself?  The reason I ask is that these machines are much lighter and may cross your bridge much easier.  If you can’t get a full sized piece of equipment to do the work, maybe a smaller sized piece can work in place?

Also, do you have a satellite picture from Google Earth?  It might help us understand the property.

Good Luck and hang in there.

Eric
 
pollinator
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Gail Jardin wrote:So I keep running into the obstacle of not being able to find a contractor to bring a backhoe or excavator out to my land because of the bridge leading into the property. None of the neighbors have any heavy machinery that works. Is it possible to do this actually by hand and small power tools?

Here is a basic description of my land: 6.3 acres with a triangle shaped close to the south east corner of the parcel. From the pond to the parcel line there are large boulders that I do not plan to split and move at this point. Diagonally back from east too west there is a 100 foot wide strip of mostly brush and small trees up to the corner of the pond, here there is a small berm/hill and a large oak. From the jeep/atv trail to the berm is about 450 feet. Facing west there is another large oak directly across the previously cleared area about 100 feet away. Heading to the western edge of the property is dense woods that I would like to find a way to utilize for food. This has a slight rise in elevation with the south west corner being the top of the ridge.

Here is a list of my goals that need to be done before we can live there:
Brush cut and cut small trees for a driveway about 15 feet by 100 feet. Save all wood for future projects ranging from hugle mounds to cordwood sheds.
Brush cut and clear a parking area for my bus large enough for it to turn around in and clear a garden area I'm not sure how large this has to be?
My bus is 40 feet and I don't maneuver it gracefully. I would need to fence the garden with chicken wire at the least. I will use a rototiller attachment from trimmer plus to start this temporary initial garden space. Right now I have enough plants started for 10 4x10 beds but our community garden is shut down.
Brush cut a path for the solar electric fence near the bus for goats to begin brush clearing and make a skid shelter to move from pen to pen as well as make a sturdy shed near the bus. Until I know the land and neighbors well I want to keep animals close at night.

Goals I want to accomplish as soon as possible:
Create an earth bag storm shelter/root cellar. Is this even possible without a backhoe or excavator to clear some land and dig a hole? I'm thinking I can put my kids to work digging and filling bags while I do other projects?
Build a frame for an IBC tote for gravity fed water while we scour the property for a potential spring and/or well digging site. How on earth can I dig a well when no one will bring in machinery?
Stock the pond that is over grown with algae I have only seen turtles near it and have not caught any fish when fishing. I will also be getting ducks and geese to enjoy the pond.

Long term goals:
Having a safe happy, healthy and hardy homestead that my children and I can enjoy for years to come.


Gail, do you drive over that bridge? if you can drive you can get a mini excavator over it. If you have the gumption to dig then you can easily manage a mini ex with about a half hour practice. I would rent one if you can find a place and drop it on the far side of the bridge. Having said all that I know I have dug a great deal usually for electrical trenches, post footings and the occasional addition on an island. If it is a grown human in decent shape I use 1 cubic yard in decent soil as a good number for a day including moving it and doing something with it. You can move more then that is a single day but day in day out that is a good number...
Cheers,  David
 
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Hi Gail,

Congratulations on finding some land!  You are now living the dream!

I was thinking the same as Eric ~ renting a backhoe or tractor with backhoe attachment of an appropriate size that can drive over the bridge.  

A key piece of information you will need to determine is the weight limit of that bridge.  Everything from delivery of materials to well drilling rigs to whether that bus should cross it depends on that detail. If you can get an engineer or contractor to look at the construction of the bridge and determine weight limit and put it in writing, you may have an easier time convincing other contractors it is safe to cross.  You may need to consider rebuilding it to carry the loads you need if the limit is really low.

I think it could all be done by hand if you had to, just a long hard road.
 
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Hi Gail!

I believe that with some time and perseverance you can clear the brush by hand and it will be a lot of work. I have another idea that may work for you. I see you mentioned that bulldozer and backhoe guys don't want to drive over the bridge to access the property. There is another piece of equipment that will give similar results for clearing the brush and small trees you desire to get started on your homestead. Another option is a drum mulcher or a brush cutter attachment for a skid steer. Skid steers don't weigh as much as dozers and backhoes and tip the scales around or a little more than a full sized pickup truck around 3 to maybe 4 tons. The brush cutter attachment is similar to a bush hog that would attach to the back of a tractor and has its limits. A brush cutter will easily handle brush and small saplings but it's not for small trees. The drum mulcher on the other hand will tackle and munch through anything, within reason. It's not the right tool for fully grown trees, but it will make quick work of brush, saplings, and even small trees with 8 or 10 inch trunks. If you need to fell a large tree, the drum mulcher can be skillfully used to grind the stump level with the ground. It is not the right tool to grind stump material below ground level.  A drum mulcher will shred all materials into wood chips, a brush cutter will not. In my opinion, a drum mulcher is the better tool since it can tackle more, and turn all that brush & saplings into a resource for a garden. There might be a guy in your area who owns one of these and is for hire, or you can rent one. If you rent one, I suggest trying to get a skid steer with tracks instead of wheels.

Here are a couple images for these machines to get an idea of what to look for:

Skid steer with drum mulcher





Skid steer with brush cutter





 
gardener
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Normally I would tell you to go to a local greasy spool or watering hole and ask.  In the present climate that might not be too good of an idea.  Hove you considered a rental?  Another possibility is to stop by any place you see a smaller level of earth moving going on and ask. I am certain there is someone out there who wants the job.
L
 
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Normally I don't advocate buying on credit,  but I have heard of people buying used earth moving equipment on credit,  using it till they no longer need it,  and then selling it for close to what they paid for.
Obviously kind of risky at the best of times.

I wonder if there is a market for the timber on your land?  If so,  maybe barter some timber in return for land clearing.
 
pollinator
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Seems like other folks have covered pretty well everything but I'll put my 2 cents in anyhow.

A skidsteer with mulcher would be a great tool for most of this. A mini-ex could do it, so could a small tractor with brush-hog and backhoe.

All of these will weigh less than your bus! My 20ft E350(1-ton van) based bus weighs just a hair under 10,000lbs, and it is very  lightly built compared to a fullsize like yours.

Even a good-sized backhoe is likely somewhere around the 15,000lb or less range. In my area the ubiquitous older farm/smalltime contractor machine is the Case 580C, and it is barely over 11k fueled up with driver in the seat.

If people who own these do not want to take them over your bridge, that bridge needs a serious look before taking your bus over it.

Can you post bridge pictures, including from below and looking at the footings from below?

What is the span?
 
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I’m a big fan of the walk behind tractors and my BCS 385 w/ the brush mower attachment would make short work of the brush mowing part of your list. I would suggest not buying anything expensive that doesn’t fit into your long term goals. You could rent a Billygoat brush mower or equivalent to accomplish the same thing as it will make short work of anything up to 2” in diameter or 6’ tall.  Since you do not live on your land any equipment stored there could be subject to theft, so that is also a consideration in buying something.

I’ve cleared a number of acres by hand using a small chainsaw and a brush cutter with a saw blade and full harness and I have to say it was slow and grueling work, especially alone. Having a second set of hands to drag brush out of the way speeds up things. Even so you are constantly stopping to sharpen/changing blades, refuel, etc which slows you down (if you are not in a hurry these tasks can be treated as a break to rest your sorry butt, even though sitting sharpening a blade with a file doesn’t clear a lot of area).

My process was to clear areas by degrees switching between the various handheld implements as different challenges are presented. One advantage to this close in method is you get to know the flora and fauna and find all sorts of treasures (or hazards). I found old rusted metal, wire and cables that would kill a mower by doing the clearing by hand, so that was also an advantage of the hand method. With the brush mower on the walk behind tractor I tend to meander making paths around the larger trees and downed trees and come back later to cut down any timber I want removed. It is important when felling to have a clear area around the trees to allow retreat upon dropping the tree, so I get a bit picky on clearing anything that would interfere in my footing.

A skid steer with a mulcher head As James suggested would likely be the quickest way to clear a lot of space.
 
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in over your head?
take one thing at a time. if you first need to make a driveway onto your property that might be first. sounds like you might need some type of equipment if for nothing else to move those trees after you cut them down if they are any size unless you want to cut them down and buck em up on the spot. then getting the stumps out can be a chore in itself.
tractors and heavy equipment can Gert real cost real quick so might want to figure your budget and then your options. a farm tractor can be very versatile and useful for many years
 
pollinator
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yeah as others have said, i think you should look into renting a skid steer, and even one of the smallest types of skid steers. theres small types where you walk them around, instead of sit in the them like a dozer.
i find those way less intimidating too, in terms of picturing myself trying to do something larger by myself, the skid steers that you push around and walk them around.

all of these are much less weight than a big excavator. might take a bit longer with a small skid steer, but still doable in a couple of days if you focus.

otherwise i say yes, you could dig by hand. inch along every other day or so and see where you are in a few weeks. my digging tends to be like...dig for 15 minutes, take a break for a half hour. dig for another 10 minutes, take a break for an hour! digging is hard work, basically! but...bit by bit with some patience and taking it slowly and pacing yourself, i think you could dig it out yourself.

if you do start this way for a few sessions you would have a really good grasp on what youre doing and a head start for the later day when you rent a skid steer and finish it.
 
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I'm sure that others more knowledgable than me have adressed the machinery aspect, so I'll touch on somehting I know -- the well. Depending on what you want from your well, you can actually dig it yourself. anything shallower than professional runs the risk of being contaminated, but a good filtration system should deal with anything that could crop up. https://www.drillyourownwell.com/ is the place I'd reccomend to check out. How good the wells are varies, but I would think most of the production issues could be sidestepped by drilling more or simply having a collection cistern. Again, commercial ones would probably be better, but you have options!

Speaking on clearing by hand, it's amazing what someone can do with hand tools. The question is less is it possible, than how much time can you afford to put in. You said 'as soon as possible', but would you be wiling to compromise on size? as in, could you afford to have only, for example, a four by four root cellar while you worked on a bigger one, or do you need it 100% of the size immediately? Speed and feasibility depends on your dirt as well -- if it's super rocky, you will have issues by hand, but again it can be worked around. Heavy clay is slow going, but makes for good walls I've heard.

As for the pond, I would see if you can't seine it or use cast nets or something to see what is in the pond now, other than turtles. The bottom composition is also important, since some species require gravel to nest. typical 'prey' species such as minnows or sunfish are good to keep algae in check, but can quickly become overcrowded and start stunting if there is no predation. Physically removing some algae could help with analyzing the pond. Aeration would also help the pond and can be provided with a small windmill or similar. I would not introduce something for the sole purpose of algae control, because that should fall into place as the ecosystem balances. Your state might also have a handbook on pond management, for an example here is ohio's https://wildlife.ohiodnr.gov/portals/wildlife/pdfs/publications/fish%20management/Pub432.pdf.
 
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Gail

All the comments above were pretty much spot on. But I think there may be some preliminary issues to arrange, at least in your own mind, before specific answers to particular  problems will matter much.

Bruce is right, one thing at a time causes less panic. But you really need a Plan. You have a short list and that is SUPER! Now walk that list back and pick out what _must_ be done _when_. Then take the (shorter) list and walk it back, noting what must happen FIRST before each item on your "critical" list can possibly get done. The resulting "lists" should not be huge.

D-Nikolls put his finger on your critical, first, unavoidable issue: The Bridge. It sounds like you might not get your bus over it safely. _THAT_ is huge and not going away and it's not something to just wing it. You need to get good info (which probably means from several different knowledgeable people who look at the bridge in person). Then decide: Are you ever going to get the bus over the bridge? Are you even going to be able to safely drive a subcompact car over the bridge during the next 10 years or so? A whole lot (like, almost everything) depends on this issue. It's almost certainly going to come down to a "judgement call". Ie. a pure guess on which you gamble, and gamble _big_.  The question is not going away. It sounds like getting as much info and making as good a guess as you can about that bridge is your first project. Everything else can go hang. After you make your personal decision about your bus and future options and transportation for yourself and your children, you can work on talking others into getting stuff you may need over that bridge.

If it looks like you should not try driving your bus across the bridge, what then? Can you reconfigure your life w/out your bus? Or will you try it anyway? Put your papers in order, make sure there is somebody to take care of your children if worst comes to worst, call a friend to stand by with a cell phone and watch it happen and then just say a prayer and drive the bus on the bridge and hope you make it across?  

Ok. That was not nice reading. But it's not nice to sit quiet when a person looks to be, based on the info you provided in this thread, proceeding w/out knowledge or appreciation of certain immediate and unavoidable serious risks. Perhaps you have this covered? That would be good - but you haven't said anything above which covers it, so I have tried to be clear about something that looks serious to me.

After that, prioritize and make clear in your head the "needs" and "wants".  And the relative order of the needs. (Eg. a well can wait a while, a roof over you and electrical power, not so much.) You _will_ need to cut corners, compromise, and just plain forget about a bunch of stuff, at least for the foreseeable future. The lists and priorities will change as you move forward, but you need a solid grasp of the current picture as you can see it, your priorities and the major problems, if you hope to make reasonable decisions. And there will a _lot_ of decisions.

Make an overall plan first. Most of it will change around as time goes on, but you _must_ have one. It is the skeleton of your future and your future needs it if you're going to try putting flesh to your your dreams. Plans include factoring your available time. Eg. you've got what? another 40 good years? Ah, well, joke. <GG>    Maybe.  Your time will be the most critical resource and greatest "must have" unless you want to go on as your are right now for the next 20 years  (ie. forever). Be very _very_ careful about ideas of doing things manually with hand tools unless you hugely reduce your requirements to something  you _know_ you personally can accomplish in six months. Be very _very_ careful about thinking "I can do this" or "I can do that" unless you yourself have actually done that job, with the tools you now have or can buy with the money you now have in the bank, several times.  Yes, you _can_ do things. But everything _you_ do that you have not done professionally will take 10 times longer and cost twice (at the very least) as much as you originally think. BTDT, over and over.

Going forward. Driveway first? Ok.  What is the absolute minimum (read cheapest) build quality and design that will get your bus safely (assuming the bridge doesn't take it off the table) to your site? What does it take to get that done? Can that happen this year? When?  If you can get that figured out and you're bright-eyed, boss bushy-tailed, on a roll, that is the time to improve the quality of the driveway plan, up to the limit of your resources. But FIRST, figure out how you will get the meanest, cheap-shit barely adequate dirt trail that (almost) for sure will serve your needs. If you can't get the minimum done, there is nothing else to worry about.

1a) Phase 1 basic necessities plan.
1b) Phase 1 budget.
1c) Phase 1 time table. (Is this ever going to happen...)

0) (move to top, before the ones) Go to church religiously, sincerely and be a good person. Talk it up with everybody and butter up anybody that looks like they might be worth it. (Eg. tow truck drivers, god, other likely prospects you come across...)

That is how one plans large projects. That one really wants to complete.

In over your head? Well, DUH! Good for you taking a jump! You got good lists started, keep paddling. Keep your eyes open, pay attention to everything. Don't keep your head down, keep it up. You _need_ to see opportunities when they roll by. It's an ongoing process and things will change as you progress.


Cheers,
Rufus
 
Rufus Laggren
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Add one thing:

Your time and health and stability are necessary to keep your project alive. Spending yourself grubbing with chainsaw and shovel is fine up to a point, BUT it is actively difficult to plan and coordinate a job, while at the same time exhausting oneself doing grunt work all day. Don't do it that way. Plan on "desk time", "mental health" time etc etc.

Without some kind of personal balance and good space in your life, the project will suffer badly because it needs you to be smart and attentive and to actively _manage_ it. That takes real quality time, work and energy. That part of the job is MORE important than the physical labor and you are the _only_ one who can do it.  Don't spend all your time/energy digging ditches - that is how people bury their projects.

This is where "compromise" comes in. Let some things go.  It's a real skill, an art. We're all continually (re)learningn this all the time.


Regards,
Rufus
 
D Nikolls
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Rufus Laggren wrote:Gail

All the comments above were pretty much spot on. But I think there may be some preliminary issues to arrange, at least in your own mind, before specific answers to particular  problems will matter much.

Bruce is right, one thing at a time causes less panic. But you really need a Plan. You have a short list and that is SUPER! Now walk that list back and pick out what _must_ be done _when_. Then take the (shorter) list and walk it back, noting what must happen FIRST before each item on your "critical" list can possibly get done. The resulting "lists" should not be huge.

D-Nikolls put his finger on your critical, first, unavoidable issue: The Bridge. It sounds like you might not get your bus over it safely. _THAT_ is huge and not going away and it's not something to just wing it. You need to get good info (which probably means from several different knowledgeable people who look at the bridge in person). Then decide: Are you ever going to get the bus over the bridge? Are you even going to be able to safely drive a subcompact car over the bridge during the next 10 years or so? A whole lot (like, almost everything) depends on this issue. It's almost certainly going to come down to a "judgement call". Ie. a pure guess on which you gamble, and gamble _big_.  The question is not going away. It sounds like getting as much info and making as good a guess as you can about that bridge is your first project. Everything else can go hang. After you make your personal decision about your bus and future options and transportation for yourself and your children, you can work on talking others into getting stuff you may need over that bridge.

If it looks like you should not try driving your bus across the bridge, what then? Can you reconfigure your life w/out your bus? Or will you try it anyway? Put your papers in order, make sure there is somebody to take care of your children if worst comes to worst, call a friend to stand by with a cell phone and watch it happen and then just say a prayer and drive the bus on the bridge and hope you make it across?  

Ok. That was not nice reading. But it's not nice to sit quiet when a person looks to be, based on the info you provided in this thread, proceeding w/out knowledge or appreciation of certain immediate and unavoidable serious risks. Perhaps you have this covered? That would be good - but you haven't said anything above which covers it, so I have tried to be clear about something that looks serious to me.

After that, prioritize and make clear in your head the "needs" and "wants".  And the relative order of the needs. (Eg. a well can wait a while, a roof over you and electrical power, not so much.) You _will_ need to cut corners, compromise, and just plain forget about a bunch of stuff, at least for the foreseeable future. The lists and priorities will change as you move forward, but you need a solid grasp of the current picture as you can see it, your priorities and the major problems, if you hope to make reasonable decisions. And there will a _lot_ of decisions.

Make an overall plan first. Most of it will change around as time goes on, but you _must_ have one. It is the skeleton of your future and your future needs it if you're going to try putting flesh to your your dreams. Plans include factoring your available time. Eg. you've got what? another 40 good years? Ah, well, joke. <GG>    Maybe.  Your time will be the most critical resource and greatest "must have" unless you want to go on as your are right now for the next 20 years  (ie. forever). Be very _very_ careful about ideas of doing things manually with hand tools unless you hugely reduce your requirements to something  you _know_ you personally can accomplish in six months. Be very _very_ careful about thinking "I can do this" or "I can do that" unless you yourself have actually done that job, with the tools you now have or can buy with the money you now have in the bank, several times.  Yes, you _can_ do things. But everything _you_ do that you have not done professionally will take 10 times longer and cost twice (at the very least) as much as you originally think. BTDT, over and over.

Going forward. Driveway first? Ok.  What is the absolute minimum (read cheapest) build quality and design that will get your bus safely (assuming the bridge doesn't take it off the table) to your site? What does it take to get that done? Can that happen this year? When?  If you can get that figured out and you're bright-eyed, boss bushy-tailed, on a roll, that is the time to improve the quality of the driveway plan, up to the limit of your resources. But FIRST, figure out how you will get the meanest, cheap-shit barely adequate dirt trail that (almost) for sure will serve your needs. If you can't get the minimum done, there is nothing else to worry about.

1a) Phase 1 basic necessities plan.
1b) Phase 1 budget.
1c) Phase 1 time table. (Is this ever going to happen...)

0) (move to top, before the ones) Go to church religiously, sincerely and be a good person. Talk it up with everybody and butter up anybody that looks like they might be worth it. (Eg. tow truck drivers, god, other likely prospects you come across...)

That is how one plans large projects. That one really wants to complete.

In over your head? Well, DUH! Good for you taking a jump! You got good lists started, keep paddling. Keep your eyes open, pay attention to everything. Don't keep your head down, keep it up. You _need_ to see opportunities when they roll by. It's an ongoing process and things will change as you progress.


Cheers,
Rufus



Good stuff.

I had some experiences on other peoples farms that taught me very little about farming in any sort of workable way, but a lot about the hazards of optimism and over-committing, and it has *still* been absolutely my biggest challenge in this first two years on my own property.

if you are going to wear yourself ragged pushing as hard as you can... you REALLY need a very good plan, with contingencies covered, before you start doing that, and a plan for what you will do when you hit the wall... You will be in no state to fly by the seat of your pants if you are pushing for 11/10ths output.

Plan for everything to take 3x as long as expected, MINIMUM, and be pleasantly surprised when things don't!


And if, like me, you are not a religious/churchgoing person, I would translate Item 0 from that list as something like Network, Socialize, Self care.. in the proportions that fit you. Isolation can be a killer.
 
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Can you supply a photo of the bridge and its surrounding area?
Could you create a ford across the watercourse for heavey equipment?
 
Rufus Laggren
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> ford

That might be a good thing to check out. It might be complicated an only suffice for a short time and/or limited use. But it might make important stuff possible. A long shot with complications, but sometimes that's what it takes.


Rufus
 
Gail Jardin
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Okay I think I read through most of these posts. After looking and walking over the area I partially cleared with a brush cutter, I'm feeling more motivated. Maybe I thought it would take a couple days and it took a couple weeks so what?
Right now I'm laid off due to covid19 so I have more time than money. I'd rather use the one gallon and a half a of gas a day in my Prius to get my kids and I outside and enjoying nature. they've been reading books and fishing in the pond and playing with their dog. I've been brushcutting about half of the six or so hours a day we spent there each day this week. Maybe in the future I'll get a Jeep or a 4x4 lifted truck and the road issues won't matter, but I don't want to part with my great mileage car because the land is close enough to still go do our regular things with our friends once this social isolation thing is over! There are other people that park on the state route side of the bridge instead of in their driveways.
I think I actually cleared enough brush to get my bus in (if the bridge will work) and start using a small rototiller attachment to dig up a garden. There are still a few small trees that I will use to teach myself how to use a chainsaw on so in the future I can cut firewood and trees for cordwood. By clearing the space I want I should have enough firewood for the winter and a way to build a small goat shed/chicken coop. With these things we can survive and get by simply.
One of the neighbors has a school bus and thinks the bridge will hold up to another one, they offered to drive my bus across if I thought the bridge was too narrow for me to safely steer. I learned a neighbor recently got a large load of gravel in a dump truck delivered by a buddy. A few people say that contractors don't want to cross the bridge because they think  it would be a liability thing. It is a railroad car bottom with three large I posts one in the middle an done on both ends. The ends have re bar and concrete but the concrete is cracked and starting to crumble like the foundation on an old house. I will try to get pictures on my computer to post here.
I have been reading all I can about earth bag root cellars/storm shelters and am not sure how I can pull that one off by hand. I guess for this storm season we can get buy with a small storm shelter right next to the bus that would double and a future root cellar.  I am still wrapping my mind around how to make a foundation 'naturally' and simply that would not flood during rain and keep things dry. I guess I should start by piling up all the rocks I dig up while filling earth bags.
Right now I've been carrying in a five gallon jug of water (only two times this week) for us to drink. One of the neighbors said they would fill an IBC tote with water for what it costs to fill the tote and fuel for their truck to town, they do this for a few of the neighbors there. But that led me to thinking is there a way to water the garden with pond water and have the garden at a slope that goes down to the pond so any extra would just get back into the pond? I was planning on watering plants with grey water from my bus as much as possible, but I still think I'd have to take the bus out every couple weeks to fill up the freshwater thank.
Now my new biggest concern is that one of the neighbors has dogs that supposedly get loose and have killed livestock in the past. Would a four foot solar electric netting fence be enough to protect my goats and ducks? If it was just one dog I'm sure my dogs could take care of the problem, but they have six or seven dogs with a four foot non electric fence. I plan on putting everyone up at night but don't want to have to put all the livestock up every time I am not able to sight in on a predator as a target. I'd feel bad to be the person that kills all their loose dogs, especially since I'm the new neighbor! I'm hoping we can work together to find a way to get their fence more secure but I can not spend money on other peoples problems!
 
Rufus Laggren
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Gail

Sounds like you're zeroing in on plans. That's great. Thanks for sharing. Most of us folk in cities are voyeurs at this point!

> firewood...
Might want a PlanB. Firewood can disappear real fast.

> chainsaw...
Please remember: Have somebody close with a phone, especially while learning. That goes for any heavy equipment or, really, most power tools. Guys work alone all day, but that's because they have to - no economic choice else. Our friend Travis on Permies here related how he almost died from a chainsaw accident - and that was after felling trees most of his life. The little safety things are sometimes easy to pass over when you've "lived city" most of your life or are embarking on new territory, but they really matter.  Many professionals simply "won't" when it comes to power tools and ladders unless they have a partner. Really. That's one of the biggest reasons for seeing guys standing around road work leaning on shovels - they are there to save their partner's life and, to a great extant,  any "work" they do is an extra freebie.

>4x4
Most country drivers don't use'm. 2x will get you pretty much anywhere. Reliability, carrying capacity, big gas tank are more important. Carry a "snatch strap" so somebody else with a vehicle can quickly get you going again if you get stuck. Way cheaper than burdened with the 4x4 hype.

Be safe.
Rufus
 
James Freyr
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Hey Gail sounds to me like you're narrowing things down. Applause from me for utilizing the time right now and tackling the brush clearing using what you have :)

I sincerely believe a properly sized electric fence energizer with quality grounding will make the electric net keep those dogs away from your livestock. It's what I have and has worked for me. I recommend at least a 1 joule fence energizer and at least two ground rods, and that will make for a painful fence. If you'd like to get something that will allow for expansion in the unknown future, consider a 2 or 3 joule energizer.

I have a 4x4 truck, and along with what Rufus has said I hardly ever use it. I'm in 2 wheel drive 99% of the time, but... Every once in a while when I'm driving on my farm, having four wheel drive saves my bacon. I used to have a 2 wheel drive only truck, and it sucks to be phoning a neighbor with 4 wheel drive and a tow strap to recover my vehicle. It is so nice, and worth the extra cost to me, to be able to engage four wheel drive when I get in the soft ground and off I go. Part of my personality is I am happy to pay a little money for something that gives me independence, and four wheel drive in my pickup truck is one of those costs that was justifiable for me.

Good luck Gail and keep us posted with some updates if you would!
 
pollinator
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You can certainly pull those things off, not exactly sure why you be bringing in a backhoe for those things.

Get yourself a little chainsaw, I buy the cheapo Poulans in the 16 inch bar length, I can generally order them offline for $75 to $95...  They are great for clearing small trees and whatnot, "I personally like them because of thow small they are, I am too old to be packing big saws around anymore".

Another that I do for general brush removal is I take an old but working lawn mower and cut from the right of the front left wheel across the front of the engine to the ride side.  Then I mount the cutoff wheel to the right side of lawnmower.  This allows the blade to run out in the open and you can cut down material four, five, six feet tall without having to chop it up under the mower.  I can even cut down small trees with these modded mowers.

I would suggest that you think about your bridge issue, this is likely to remain a problem in the future.  If they won't bring a backhoe over it will a firetruck drive over it?  Will an ambulance cross it?  I would love to see a pic of the bridge and pictures of your brush and trees.

I happen to build bridges for peoples properties, I might be able to come up with some simple ideas to make a stouter bridge...
 
Gail Jardin
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James Freyr wrote:Hey Gail sounds to me like you're narrowing things down. Applause from me for utilizing the time right now and tackling the brush clearing using what you have :)

I sincerely believe a properly sized electric fence energizer with quality grounding will make the electric net keep those dogs away from your livestock. It's what I have and has worked for me. I recommend at least a 1 joule fence energizer and at least two ground rods, and that will make for a painful fence. If you'd like to get something that will allow for expansion in the unknown future, consider a 2 or 3 joule energizer.

I have a 4x4 truck, and along with what Rufus has said I hardly ever use it. I'm in 2 wheel drive 99% of the time, but... Every once in a while when I'm driving on my farm, having four wheel drive saves my bacon. I used to have a 2 wheel drive only truck, and it sucks to be phoning a neighbor with 4 wheel drive and a tow strap to recover my vehicle. It is so nice, and worth the extra cost to me, to be able to engage four wheel drive when I get in the soft ground and off I go. Part of my personality is I am happy to pay a little money for something that gives me independence, and four wheel drive in my pickup truck is one of those costs that was justifiable for me.

Good luck Gail and keep us posted with some updates if you would!



Thanks for the advice and encouragement. Today it's pouring rain so I'm staying in town and getting some more garden prep and food preservation done. I have used a chainsaw a handful of times, mostly for small cedar trees. I'm hoping to do a little more research on how to safely cut down the patch of honey locusts and be able to use the wood.
Unfortunately my solar energizer is only .5 joule https://kencove.com/fence/Solar+Energizers_detail_EKS.5H.php and I have two 164 foot pos/neg netting that is four feet tall. My focus was to find a way to keep my goats in, not to protect them from a pack of vicious pitbulls. Supposedly these dogs get out and have killed a lot of peoples livestock, I'm not sure how anyone can put up with that and why there still there!
As for 4x4 my Prius is the first vehicle I've had that isn't a truck. I used my 4x4  a lot on dirt roads, conservation land, hunting etc. pretty much anywhere where gravel or mud would be slipping. Here it rains a lot, so the dirt road would probably need 4x4 from time to time. After asking more bus folks about bridges like this one it seems to be a common thing to use re-purposed railroad cars for rural private roads and unless this one has something particularly wrong with it that no one has mentioned, the lack of crossing the bridge is just a liability thing for companies.
 
Gail Jardin
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Roy Long wrote:You can certainly pull those things off, not exactly sure why you be bringing in a backhoe for those things.

Get yourself a little chainsaw, I buy the cheapo Poulans in the 16 inch bar length, I can generally order them offline for $75 to $95...  They are great for clearing small trees and whatnot, "I personally like them because of thow small they are, I am too old to be packing big saws around anymore".

Another that I do for general brush removal is I take an old but working lawn mower and cut from the right of the front left wheel across the front of the engine to the ride side.  Then I mount the cutoff wheel to the right side of lawnmower.  This allows the blade to run out in the open and you can cut down material four, five, six feet tall without having to chop it up under the mower.  I can even cut down small trees with these modded mowers.

I would suggest that you think about your bridge issue, this is likely to remain a problem in the future.  If they won't bring a backhoe over it will a firetruck drive over it?  Will an ambulance cross it?  I would love to see a pic of the bridge and pictures of your brush and trees.

I happen to build bridges for peoples properties, I might be able to come up with some simple ideas to make a stouter bridge...



I live in the Ozarks where there are tornadoes, I would like to use a backhoe to dig a three sided berm to build an earth bag storm shelter in, or use an excavator to dig out a an underground shelter. As for the bridge there have been ambulances that have crossed it but to fire trucks to my knowledge. My parcel is only a quarter mile from the bridge. I will try to get bridge pictures posted. Maybe I should make a whole thread about it?
 
Gail Jardin
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Rufus Laggren wrote:Gail

Sounds like you're zeroing in on plans. That's great. Thanks for sharing. Most of us folk in cities are voyeurs at this point!

> firewood...
Might want a PlanB. Firewood can disappear real fast.

> chainsaw...
Please remember: Have somebody close with a phone, especially while learning. That goes for any heavy equipment or, really, most power tools. Guys work alone all day, but that's because they have to - no economic choice else. Our friend Travis on Permies here related how he almost died from a chainsaw accident - and that was after felling trees most of his life. The little safety things are sometimes easy to pass over when you've "lived city" most of your life or are embarking on new territory, but they really matter.  Many professionals simply "won't" when it comes to power tools and ladders unless they have a partner. Really. That's one of the biggest reasons for seeing guys standing around road work leaning on shovels - they are there to save their partner's life and, to a great extant,  any "work" they do is an extra freebie.

>4x4
Most country drivers don't use'm. 2x will get you pretty much anywhere. Reliability, carrying capacity, big gas tank are more important. Carry a "snatch strap" so somebody else with a vehicle can quickly get you going again if you get stuck. Way cheaper than burdened with the 4x4 hype.

Be safe.
Rufus


My bus is only about 200 square feet and the wood stove keeps it quite cozy, plus here in the Ozarks the winters are mild. I heated with firewood, and used a wood cookstove up near Iowa and that was a whole different kind of winter. I'm sure the experience I get cutting logs for my cabin will help me learn what I need to cut up cords for the winter.
As for right now I'm only using the chain saw on smaller trees that are three too four inches around. I'm not sure why I would use it on a ladder?
Pretty much everyone in the neighborhood said you need 4x4 to drive the road when it rains, ices or snows. A regular truck or SUV could navigate the road but not all the time. My Prius is reliable, I just want an option other than driving my bus in and out of the property.
 
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Some things to remember when using a chainsaw, even a small one, and even on small trees, is that it is running on high revolutions per minute and that you should always keep your leading arm straight with its elbow locked.   This way if the chain grabs in an unexpected way, ((you will not have time to react due to high RPM's)) kicking the saw teeth up towards you, the lead arm will carry the saw upwards over your head, and not (with your arm bent or bending) into your face.  Always wear a proper hard hat, face shield, and safety glasses, hearing protection...  These are a small expense but will save you years of grief if you make a mistake, or have to deal with the loss of hearing.  Always have someone else around.  Practice to always use your chain break at the end of a cut.  Always have good footing when the saw is cutting or you have the chain break off.  Always were safety pants to protect your femural arteries, and sturdy boots to protect your feet.
 
Rufus Laggren
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Gail

Sounds like you're pretty familiar with your territory and country practices. I'll be betting on You. <g>

It's hard to tell how much somebody knows when one responds to questions. Until more info is flowing, I error on the side of stodgy nit picking conservative safety blurbs. When something happens it happens instantly and usually without the slightest hint or warning. It can be as simple and ordinary as slipping on a dog's toy while using a power tool or catching the power cord of the saw (if it's a corded type) in a way the throws you hand off. You never know, you never will know, until it's over and sometimes not then. Safety is about doing things in a way that even when "stuff"  happens, you end up all in one piece. It's a life style.

+10 on the locked elbow using a chain saw. That applies to a other power tools as well. The classic circular saw disaster is when the saw catches when cutting ply wood or ripping a long board, jumps the cut and runs back along the work piece toward the user and sometimes right up their leg or into their lap.  A locked elbow can be your friend in a lot of situations where you DON"T want that machine to touch you.

> ladders
Ladders are considered dangerous tools because they put people up where they can fall and if unlucky break something critical. I didn't mean you were on a ladder using a chain saw. Never crossed my mind. _That_ is seriously perilous. Many professionals cut trees while hanging on a limb or a ladder, but they don't do it alone and it's the pinnacle of a wild and woolly trade. And it's only done by people the boss decides, after seeing them work for some time, won't cause him problems by getting hurt, hurting others or damaging equipment. IOW, it's a special place where very few belong.  


Cheers,
Rufus
 
Gail Jardin
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Rufus Laggren wrote:Gail

Sounds like you're pretty familiar with your territory and country practices. I'll be betting on You. <g>

It's hard to tell how much somebody knows when one responds to questions. Until more info is flowing, I error on the side of stodgy nit picking conservative safety blurbs. When something happens it happens instantly and usually without the slightest hint or warning. It can be as simple and ordinary as slipping on a dog's toy while using a power tool or catching the power cord of the saw (if it's a corded type) in a way the throws you hand off. You never know, you never will know, until it's over and sometimes not then. Safety is about doing things in a way that even when "stuff"  happens, you end up all in one piece. It's a life style.

+10 on the locked elbow using a chain saw. That applies to a other power tools as well. The classic circular saw disaster is when the saw catches when cutting ply wood or ripping a long board, jumps the cut and runs back along the work piece toward the user and sometimes right up their leg or into their lap.  A locked elbow can be your friend in a lot of situations where you DON"T want that machine to touch you.

> ladders
Ladders are considered dangerous tools because they put people up where they can fall and if unlucky break something critical. I didn't mean you were on a ladder using a chain saw. Never crossed my mind. _That_ is seriously perilous. Many professionals cut trees while hanging on a limb or a ladder, but they don't do it alone and it's the pinnacle of a wild and woolly trade. And it's only done by people the boss decides, after seeing them work for some time, won't cause him problems by getting hurt, hurting others or damaging equipment. IOW, it's a special place where very few belong.  


Cheers,
Rufus


Aside form the past four almost five years of being single I've always lived in the country. I've found a neighbor who will help me when cutting the trees! They said they will help cut some and be willing to hang out while I'm cutting trees too. So that way I won't be cutting stuff on my own. Okay I must have read the ladder comment wrong, lol.
 
Rufus Laggren
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Yeah, neighbors matter, big time.

In my more transient days, the first thing I did when I moved into a place was try to get acquainted with the neighbors in a good way. Sometimes worked better than others... But I never regretted trying. And every single "official" problem I ever had remodel contracting, and most of the un-official ones, derived from a neighbor. Significant players.

Great you connected with agreeable people. Raises the good odds.  Play those percentages. <G>


Cheers,
Rufus
 
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