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Grateful Dead Hedge

 
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Susan Doyon wrote:Ross Thank you for posting the Tudor video . loved it .
It is a great subject and thread , as so many of us have more need for fence than funds to build them .

Up here in Massachusetts we have loads of invasive wild rose and autumn olive I wonder if they could be moved and pruned into a proper hedge


Thank you, Susan. there is 6 episodes in that series and something to learn in each. Then They also do a bunch of other series. My favorite is, Wartime Farm. There is also Edwardian Farm and I think, Victorian Farm. I think they did one on castles as well but dont quote me on that.
 
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thank you I will try to find them later
 
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Roberto pokachinni wrote:

It looks like a pack rat super highway. How do you control vermin?

It would also be a martin haven, a weasel paradise... snakes... plenty of predators love that sort of place.



A couple of Rat Terriers or Jack Russels would be in doggy heaven and soon have that little problem under control if it developed to an unmanageable extent. A living hedge wouldn't keep cows in but a combo of living and dead hedge would. They don't tend to push through what they can't see through. Ross isn't building his hedge next to the buildings so I don't think it much of an issue regardless. Critters have got to live some where and they all have their places in the scheme of things.

I have some old mesh fencing with mature 20 foot brush growing through it. Some of sections of wire are on the ground and grown over from lack of maintenance over the last 50 years. I don't want to cut the brush out to clear old rusty wire on the ground and then have a bare spot in the living brush and the cows track those spots down pretty quickly. I don't know why I didn't think of dead hedging those missing wire sections, but its the solution to the problem. Some dead hedging stuffed in the living hedge that I already have. Who would have thunk it?
 
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I use them quite a lot. After trying other alternatives for keeping goats out of areas, I started to conclude that this, the most popular method of fencing in the area was not necessarily the most secure (which was concrete posts, chain link and barbed wire), but by far the most economical in terms of money and labour.

Laying hedges has the disadvantage in goat country that goats (and deer) love to eat buds off of trees up to around 1.5 meters from the ground. Laying a tree horizontally is turning it into a goat snack and with regular browsing it may well die, or at least it will probably not grow in well enough to make a dense hedge....unless you pile brush over it.

I still lay hedges in areas which are protected from goats by other fences as part of a long term plan, so that goats or other animals can be allowed into these areas periodically in future.

I cut hawthorns or other not so valuable trees which happen to be where I want fences at around 1.5 meters, and then pile the spiky brush around the base of the trees along the line of the planned hedge. Where there aren't trees I use stakes and brush. The trees coppice and grow denser, if they aren't cut, they grow tall and make a canopy, while remaining fairly open at ground level.

Eventually, if you wait long enough and pile more brush on periodically, brambles and small trees will start to colonise the hedge. Throwing seeds of desirable species in may speed this up a bit.

I have never found lack of brush to be a problem. A mistake I made early on was to use small twigs and brush for firewood, believing that this frugality would reduce the need to cut more trees and thus protect the forest. In some cases this can be good, but it may actually be better for the forest to cut another mature tree, use only the biggest boughs, and use the remaining brush to protect seedlings, maintain moisture and humus, establish hedges etc. Pollarding is a very good idea in places with browsing animals such as goats or deer, as this allows trees to produce new buds out of reach of the browsers.
 
Peter Ingot
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Raye Beasley wrote: A living hedge wouldn't keep cows in but a combo of living and dead hedge would.



Living hedges (properly laid) have kept cows in for centuries.....obviously not the same cows, they would be pretty old
 
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Lol
 
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I liked the Tudor video, too. Worth noticing the difference between the experienced master and the novice actors.

"With practice, two people can erect 20m a day"...



That's a bit daunting, but much better than my 2 days to complete 6 feet of woven wicker hurdle.

I think these biodegradable fences are a promising idea for keeping deer, herds, etc. off the new food forest trees long enough for the leaders to get above browse height, and maybe to keep critters away from the bark of the trunks if you have harsh winters.
We've seen currants survive in the middle of a slash pile, and along regular fencelines, where the meadow is heavily browsed everywhere else. I've experimented with using them to re-establish aspen; nasty dry years for it, but I will continue to try as we rehabilitate the pond. I imagine even a decent brush pile could shorten the length of portable fence you need to construct - split the difference between cash and labor investment.

We saw thorn fences in Morocco, there was a big difference between "street" fence (to help people herding animals keep them out of the neighbors' way, just kind of a rough tumbleweed pile anywhere from knee-high to shoulder-high), and "garden" fence (the lushest garden I saw also had the sturdiest gate, and the fence was reinforced with cane, poles, thorn, a whole mixed lot of fairly stout panels). Prized fruit trees were even better protected: the favorite trees and vines were grown inside the courtyard, "in the kitchen" as it were, in park-like curbed circles of dirt where dish-water and wash-water could be poured liberally over their feet. The courtyard would include all the various rooms of the household (kitchen, sleeping quarters, guest room, loo, storage or spare rooms), and a continuous adobe wall with one or two doorways out into the street and back garden. Someone was usually home to shoo the dogs and donkeys out of the courtyard; and there were some stout gates but seemed to be rarely used in daytime.

In Morocco, aside from the walled courtyards, there were a lot fewer fences than here.

They would ride or lead donkeys around, then hobble them and leave them somewhere shady while they did their errands or work day or whatever. Some large farms have "donkey parking" areas where the hobbled animals keep each other company, near their packs. They seem somewhat trainable, or perhaps evolved to a certain level of patience with this.
Large animals would be kept in small pens (a little larger than we'd consider a stall), or tied up. They would be walked down to water, or to better grazing, by one person leading a whole string of animals once or twice a day.

In the US, I've seen portable fences used by shepherds to control mob grazing even on college campuses - sometimes with a guardian dog. Modern ones are often electric (or at least, electrified for training), but people used to pen sheep (for vet inspection, sales, etc) with portable "corrals" of lattice or hurdles. For goats and such, for example when using them to 'mow' blackberry patches or other invasive weeds, the more common method seems to be to tether them. It still takes human attention to un-tangle them periodically, but at least they only make trouble for themselves, not the rest of the gardens.
I haven't raised pigs, but they're rumored to be intelligent; I wonder if you could train one to tolerate a tether-cable and harness if you made sure it got access to its favorite treats that way. They are also rumored to be obstinate and greedy; maybe a masonry-walled garden would be a better strategy than a "pig pasture."
A hedging manual I borrowed from a friend described ditches, ditch-and-dike systems, and partial walls used in combination with hedges, depending on what kind of animal was to be fenced in. In areas with fewer good hedge trees, they might combine a dead hedge with a low stone wall as the base. There were also strategies for laying the hedge in a certain direction so that the browsing animals would not eat through the base of the tree bark (also a function of the ditches). Zoo enclosures often use a combination of courtesy fence (on the people side) and steep ditches (on the large animal side); I think it's called a "boma" if I remember right? I think the English version is called a "haha," a fence that is a sunken ditch so it isn't obvious looking across the landscape.

If you are really thinking about living on the land and not buying industrial stuff, whether historically or in a hypothetical post-industrial future, then fencing every beastie's pasture starts to seem like a lot of extra expense or work. Enough fence on a 5-year renewal cycle, and you have a full-time, responsible adult doing fence repair (assuming that skill and dedication improve the longevity of the results). Having one or two kids act as 'herders' starts to make a lot more sense than fencing the entire Western USA.

Traditional societies also were a lot less concentrated, and ate more wild game than livestock (even in cities like New York and London, hunters supplied much of the table meat). So the chances of your stray critter eating its way through someone else's prize X was lower, and the number of livestock per person that you'd expect to keep might be lower too. And the need to defend against predators (or for that matter, thieves), and the relatively lower price of labor compared with manufactured materials, all added up to a greater incentive to watch your critters if you wanted to keep them. For large, productive herds, you can afford to keep hired men, and maybe even mount them on horses (or feed them well enough to ensure stout legs, and well-trained dogs).
When the wilderness has its own space and provides some of your seasonal food, you can concentrate on fencing in the kitchen garden (zone 1 or 1 and 2), use guardian animals and tethering and training for biddable or small livestock, and keep larger stock penned in a smaller enclosure unless you have enough of it to justify the hire of a herdsman. Keeping just a few large animals (horse, donkeys, cattle, big pigs) is either part of a social contract, or a hobby that you pay for in fencing and feed costs.

Some reading on the "commons" recently suggested that many English and European villages had standing arrangements to make the best use of social support and labor. They would alternate between individual care of animals (night and milking times, no economies of scale in hand-milking until they invented machines), then you'd use economies of scale by having one or two herdsmen take everyone's animals out to graze. Animals that are driven past all the gardens don't have as much time to puzzle out a fence. The rest of the village adults would go about their daily business without watching a single animal 24/7.

If you are trying to be a self-sufficient rancher with no extra help, it's going to take herculean dedication.
The social structures that go along with nature-based herd management are key. In areas with denser populations, a village and its herdsman and goose girl. In areas with sparse population, you have fierce nomadic herdsmen (cowboys, caballeros, Masai cattlemen, Mongolian families) who camp out with the beasts. The whole family, or a large part of its male population, may move seasonally with the herds.

Our situation in American rural life is not traditional. We have legal obligations to fence certain areas, control invasive weeds, etc. We have enough neighbors that someone is bound to complain when the beasts get out, but not enough social ties to cooperatively manage our beasts. It's all one-man-kingdoms, which are only feasible with trucks and fences and other industrial artifacts.

So for it to work in some contexts of American culture, you'd almost need to achieve something comparable to hog panel or barbed wire. Maybe a little better, as people would assume the problem was your fence if things went wrong (where if it was barbed wire, they'd assume the problem was the stupid cow or teenagers that spooked it or whatever).

But for anyone managing a place that has more flexibility in its arrangements, and friendlier neighbor relations, I'd suggest re-thinking your fencing strategies and looking into what people in similar climates did historically.

You could manage the fire aspect with stone fence breaks, maybe where you'd want permanent gates or stiles. (Britain has historical public walks where everyone is entitled to cross the lands, too, unlike most of America; constructing convenient fence-crossings that would let people pass without letting animals escape become its own art). And while our climate would definitely see complete combustion of brush fences when the wild fires came through (maybe every 10 to 20 years on average?), you could also see this as a fail-safe: in case of fire, the animals will be freed (if they have enough brains to find the gap in the fence). Even if they panic and just charge the fence on the far side, the idea of a fence that a determined animal can break through in an emergency is not all bad. Like horse-ties that can always be popped loose in a panic, or hobbles that are weak enough to break if the animal is being attacked.
Giving the animal a little more control of its fate in an emergency means relying on training, good living conditions, and mutual understanding to keep them in their proper place. The tether, hobble, or fence becomes a firm request, rather than a complete physical barrier. I suspect we'd need to get the right breeds of livestock guardian animals, and learn to train them better, but it can be done.

I think permaculture farmers are better educated and better placed than most, to figure it out.

-Erica W
 
Erica Wisner
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Pictures of a few elements I noticed in Morocco - they use very simple thorn "fedges", dead brush, and thorny plants like jujube, acacia, prickly pear, along with constructed sections of cane, wire, wood, stone, adobe, or simple gates of wood, iron, corrugated roofing tin.

I'm including a lot of ideas beyond the fence itself. Like the plastered haystacks - hay and chaff would be covered in an earth or earth-dung plaster, to be opened up when needed. Sometimes with plastic under the plaster, or baled hay stacked to make a catenate roof-like shape.

Because it's not just swapping out a fence - it's a system. They use fences differently than we do, as aids for drovers.
And they seem to have a lot more animals that are not "controlled" in the same way - dogs are reviled and not trained or cared for, but will attach themselves to a household. I saw several donkeys with "homeschooling" colts, the colt would follow Mama around while she was being used to carry things or whatever. Animals that were not a regular part of the household (an ox newly bought for slaughter) would be tied to something, or penned up. Expensive animals would be penned up when not in use, or supervised when led out to graze or drink.

I am sure there were a lot of nuances I didn't catch - neighbor problems when someones beasts did stray or break through fences, or maybe if your animal strayed someone would just eat it rather than complain. And there were certainly a lot of dusty bare spots where the paths converged in public areas, including some badly eroded old tree-roots or washed-out creek beds. The paths themselves appeared to be eroded down several feet compared with the height of the protected thorny fence base. The thorns came loose, or the tree dropped new ones; they snagged on your clothing; you picked them up; you put them back on the fence somewhere. The animal grabbed a mouthful of tree on its way by, got a smack, moved along while still chewing. Even a rope gate is enough to keep a herded animal from straying, if it knows where it's supposed to be going and is looking forward to being there.

It just seemed to be such an old accustomed relationship that everyone involved, including the animals, expected it to work as it did. So it worked.
I don't know how you'd go about creating that in a modern American rural county; but it might be possible to try the experiment within an interested small town or intentional community.
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Behind the donkey, you can see a typical pile-o-thorns hedge.
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Valuable fruit trees can be kept in the kitchen courtyard, but there are food-forest plantations too. Presumably people mostly hobble their donkeys.
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This cactus is called "foreign girl" in berber, looks very much like prickly pear. A dozen yards of it along walkways and property boundries is common (edible fruit, and NOT passable)
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Donkey parking.
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Flocks grazing a field of stubble
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This colt followed his parent around while she was working... didn't bother anybody. Perhaps it's a home-schooled donkey? You can see the garden fence and compound walls, too.
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So quick efficient fencing for/against animals... While the dead hedge idea can work in certain conditions, why wouldn't good old solar electric fence fit the bill?
 
Ross Raven
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Andras Hajdu wrote:So quick efficient fencing for/against animals... While the dead hedge idea can work in certain conditions, why wouldn't good old solar electric fence fit the bill?



Well, Yes. I plan on using that as well this year....but...that is not what this about. I am educating myself while teaching others. This is an issue many people will face in the near future. When purchased or financed materials are no longer affordable at any price.

Example. We are in a commodities crash at the moment. Prices for manufactured goods are dropping rapidly. Doesn't that sound good? Not if your job is dependent on resource extraction, manufacturing, trade or servicing people working in those industries. Mass unemployment.

So the words to remember are- "Not affordable at any price"

That is why I try to solve these little problems.

In the words of John Michael Greer, "Collapse Now. Avoid the Rush"
 
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AKA "Collapse now and beat the rush!"

[Edit: Doh! Ross, you edited that last line in while I was thumb-typing this!]

More seriously, permaculture cuts across the whole economic spectrum. At one end we got rich men with huge snorting excavators carving out fantastical paradises to be planted with ten thousand purchased trees. At the other we have modern peasants trying to figure out old (and new!) ways to survive and thrive with no money at all. I recognize and honor the helpful spirit that informs these suggestions, but when someone from further along the spectrum toward "snorting excavators" says "Wouldn't it be easier, faster, or more efficient to just do [something more expensive]?" it's not actually all that helpful.
 
Ross Raven
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Great minds think alike.

On that note, Its above freezing so I am back out there cutting and dragging brush. I'ld hate to be doing this job without a chainsaw. That is another reason I will put a lot of effort into coppicing. Eventually we have to do this without a chainsaw.
 
Dan Boone
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Erica Wisner wrote:Our situation in American rural life is not traditional. We have legal obligations to fence certain areas, control invasive weeds, etc. We have enough neighbors that someone is bound to complain when the beasts get out, but not enough social ties to cooperatively manage our beasts. It's all one-man-kingdoms, which are only feasible with trucks and fences and other industrial artifacts.



Erica I really want to thank you for that pair of posts (with pictures!) that delve so deeply into the social philosophy of fences. I gestured at this very lightly and semi-ignorantly up thread, when I made my off-topic (because I hadn't figured out how to integrate it with the topic as you have) comment about using kids as herder-labor as a substitute for fencing. Your observations from a land where fencing and herding solutions are integrated in a complex social matrix of land use expectations and architectural accommodations are useful and fascinating.

Your one paragraph I've quoted puts me in mind of that so-American aphorism "good fences make good neighbors." I don't think that line would make much sense in the Morocco you have described. I just went back and re-read Frost's "Mending Wall" (from which that aphorism comes) for the first time since college, and in the context of this thread I think it has an awful lot to say:

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
'Stay where you are until our backs are turned!'
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, 'Good fences make good neighbors'.
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
'Why do they make good neighbors? Isn't it
Where there are cows?
But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down.' I could say 'Elves' to him,
But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me~
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father's saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, "Good fences make good neighbors."

 
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Ross Raven wrote: ... I can imagine chickens with a bit of flight treating it more like a landscape feature (hey, let's go perch on that funny ridge)...



Ha, my wife thought it would be cool to raise some Icelandic Chickens, have a movable coop and movable 3' electric fence to keep predators at bay... Instead of flying over the fence, the chickens fly 8 feet straight up to the top of the coop roof, then fly off the other side when they want to get in or out of the fence.
 
Ross Raven
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Roberto pokachinni wrote:

It looks like a pack rat super highway. How do you control vermin?

It would also be a martin haven, a weasel paradise... snakes... plenty of predators love that sort of place.



Rabbits and pheasants moved right in. Its driving my dogs crazy. No way they can get through this. A bit more work and the Coy Wolves have no chance either. Ill try to bring the board pigs into it the next snow melt. Im alittle past the half way point on the job but it will keep the pigs in at this point, supervised, while I keep adding. I am a bit behind in photos.

For those that enjoyed Tudor Farm, I found this a few days ago. I think it is the inspiration for Tudor farm before Ruth, Peter and Tom became famous. It makes me feel like a wimp just watching them and feeling guilty because I am watching them instead of doing...

Tales From The Green Valley-
 
Ross Raven
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True story of the day. We are doing this in northern Nova Scotia. Like any farming community in the middle of BF nowhere, its a deeply religious area. Somehow, that is Buddhism. LOL

Soooo. The former director of the local Buddhist community was at our place today to chat with Mrs C5 about the feasibility of a local food hub. (Good luck with that). For context, I have to point out....German Buddhist. I told him to check out my dead hedge when he was leaving.

He rolled buy to where I was working. Appon seeing it, he replied, Oh. This is just like how they do t in Europe.

LOL. I told him about the multiple feedback loops I was learning while doing it. Opening up the area saves the dying trees. Cutting new arias produces future coppice for future wattle...and hand cuttable firewood once chainsaws are done. Once I bring in the pigs, they will deep till the shit out of the place, while getting in last minute protein for pregnant porkers from worms and the like. Once it is ubber tilled buy the pigs, I can yank out the roots from softened dirt of trees I dont want...and they will eventually eat every single apple that hits the ground, keeping any apple worms from being able to hibernate back into the soil, producing longer lasting apples to feed the pigs longer into the winter. Anything they eat will get pooped out into better fertiliser...and they will clear out the undergrowth so we pick fruit easier. More sun gets to the coppice fore faster growth. Better health for the trees because it dissuades woodpeckers feeding on dying trees. Two years from now, I hayseed so the topsoil doesn't wash away and the pigs only visit for apples but not to till. The hedge is a medium for new growing plants to become a living hedge for once I am old or dead.

Buddhist dude was impressed. I wanted to ask him...If I trip in the forest and land on my face cursing a blue streak...but there is no one around to notice...do I make a sound
 
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LOL! Well played, Ross Raven, well played : )
 
Ross Raven
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Im a bit too beat to write anything charming....But, TA-DA! Today was the first day the pigs could be brought in...while supervised and I continued to add material.

I'll ad an aftershot of a previous photo. Then I will give a shot of the nightmare area that is about to become my new coppice farm once I clear it out
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Ross Raven
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And here is some size context photos. It's more than a month into it but its not like I worked on it every day or even for full days. This is what one man with a chainsaw and a fence hole digger can do. Albeit, a slightly obsessive compulsive person.A person with more time than money. I should add that I am around fifty and a heavy smoker.

We are only at about the half way point. The absolute minimum. Now I have to pack much more bulk into it and add twice as many fence posts...and a gate.

then we can get to planting the live stuff on the edges
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A rockstar performance, Ross. Very inspirational!
 
Roberto pokachinni
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I imagine that a guy (or gal) could set up a base layer with the posts in the spring/summer/fall, and then putter on it all winter, thus making use of this 'slower' time of the year to get that height and volume ratios up high and thick enough for jumping ungulates and predatious diggers to be thwarted.
 
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Here are some pictures of mine from early spring. I ah happy to report that some of the sycamore posts have taken root and survived. My experience with sweet gum is that they will leaf out well but don't have a good chance of surviving into the following year. I have many seedlings that I pulled up from the garden that were planted under the hedge. these are doing well as they grow through the hedge. I am very hopeful that the birds will bring mulberries, as this is something that we lack (surprisingly).
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I guess I build dead dams then. I pile them at the edge of where the slopes begin so that whatever gets disturbed by by clearing of land, will get caught rather than wash down to the neighbor's bottom land. At some point, I plan to do some rocks walls and terrace things but that's a long term, time consuming task so in the meantime, piles of brush and logs that aren't good enough for firewood get piled in those places.
 
Michael Holtman
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Yes, John! It's almost always good to put stuff on contour.
 
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