I have been dreaming of my own land and my own farm for a while, watching videos on permaculture, and reading lots and lots about raising different plants and animals. Recently, I talked my husband into looking for a cheap piece of land that we can at least farm on, even if it's not feasible to live there for a while. I found something ideal for us, about 6-some acres, that would actually be nice to live on and has a lot of nice houses around, but it is DENSELY populated by very young trees. I don't think I saw any thicker than four inches in diameter. I was wondering if there was a simple way to clear this without running into huge costs to cut/bulldoze everything, then repair the damage. Is there a more gentle approach to at least thinning it down to being mostly clear? I eventually want something kind of foresty in the back, but with nut and fruit trees, not pine, and some wild plants and flowers for some bees, but I want a decent area that is clear enough to build on, have a backyard garden, house some chickens in a permanent nightly enclosure, maybe eventually a greenhouse, and space for a barn, small paddock for a horse and some goats, etc. Is there a way to do this without going medieval or moving excessively slowly?
You could try using animals.....a combination of goats and pigs might be pretty effective, but you will probably have to give them at least some supplemental feed, plus stout perimeter fencing, to focus their attention on the area in question. Hungry goats will strip bark, or keep on top of stump sprouts from anything you cut. Pigs will dig, eating a lot of roots and gradually killing stumps. One old tradition is to use an auger or posthole digger and bury corn under big stumps....the pigs will smell this and soon enough the stumps will be dug out.
The quick option which we did once at our old place in Georgia was to call in what we called a "tree-eater"---a machine that basically mangled up the trees and turned them into woodchip mulch in place. Pricey but quick, and providing an immediate yield of mulch. I found I could go out and plant "three sisters" directly into it.
The other thing to remember is that on a homestead using wood for heat, all those trees are a resource and it might do to simply clear slowly, at the rate you need them to burn, following with plantings as you go. At the same homestead site referred to above (in central Georgia, with dense growth not exceeding six inches through at most), the clearing necessary for the cabin site and initial garden neatly coincided with the first winter's requirement for firewood.....
Alder Burns (adiantum)
posted 5 years ago
Thanks for your quick reply! As it turns out, I was looking at the wrong property. The right one was about 100 feet away, and has less dense brush, I think, but thicker trees, so I'm thinking about maybe calling a lumber company and seeing if they wouldn't pay me something minimal to pick up the wood, or at least take it for free. We have a lot of lumber activity in this area, and a paper mill, and the trees they haul off are not usually very mature, about 4-6 inches in diameter. Goats are definitely an option since I want goats anyway, but pigs are completely out of the question for religious reasons (we're Muslim). We're thinking that since we don't have much capital to start off, we'll probably start by just raising a few chickens and goats while staying in the apartment we are currently in, and see if we can't make it profitable enough to at least help for the project to pay for some of the building expenses. I'm really interested in building with adobe, though my husband hasn't come around yet to the idea of us actually building our own house. He wants it to be "nice and respectable" so that in the future we could easily sell the property if we needed to move cities or states or countries, but I don't see why we can't make something nice and respectable and CHEAP ourselves, given enough time. We don't really have any experience building (other than a bedrock (Flintstones)-style room I made with my friends in the middle of the woods in middle school with large, flat rocks), but I think if we gave ourselves a long period of time, say a year, to complete the house, we could still end up with something nice and finished looking with minimal costs. a large-ish house would need about 4000 bricks, I estimate, and over 12 months, working 5 days a week, that's only laying like 8 bricks a day. Of course, I don't know how easy it would be to build through the colder, rainier months. It can get pretty muddy here (Arkansas) in the rainy season, but that's almost a plus, given a high foundation, because then I don't have to mix the mud! Am I delusional?
Summer, one thing to keep in mind is that those trees are a resource. You can use them to build your chicken coop, for example, and to produce fencing. There might be a number of projects that could be accomplished using the free lumber from your own property instead of buying it from outside.
Those trees, although they might not be long term elements of your farming plan, still may be useful in providing a bit of shelter for things that you will want to be keeping long-term.
It takes some time to make adobe bricks, and you need the right materials in the right proportions. As you think about how long things will take, remember that making those four thousand bricks will take some time in and of itself and will require some clear, dry weather as well. Can't dry the bricks in the rain