Gardening · Homesteading

Turning Fields Into Growing Land

When asked what we are doing to our land, my answer is modern homesteading. Converting back fallow fields to farmland, but using modern gear to get the job(s) done faster, and easier.

When we bought our property this past winter, we went into it knowing it had a lot of work ahead for us. It wasn’t till and plant ready by any means. The previous owner had not taken care of much of the acreage the past few years, so it was very overgrown. The lower field for example had last years “grass” and a million weeds folded over, matted deeply. We had to wait to get the right attachment for our BCS Tractor, that could cut it and mulch the mess.

We run a BCS 853 walk behind tractor. Our flail mower attachment is a Berta from Earth Tools.

Running the flail mower doesn’t look hard, and well, it isn’t hard once you figure out all the gears, however it is physically hard to do it. I am 5’4″ so the BCS tends to walk me. It’s a good workout to say the least. You really feel the corners, when you have to physically turn the tractor. It takes a lot of arm and butt/hip strength. Free workout I’ll give it that.

Part of this section was between waist and chest high, with a lot of stinging nettles. Kirk is 6’4″ so for him the BCS is easier than it is for me.

One issue in this field was disguised holes. You have to careful to not step into one. This one was deeper than my ankle! Rodent holes get well disguised under over grown grass.

As the lowing went on, the field really opened up. The green slash across it is due to the previous owner thinking he could solve the internet access nightmare for us (both us and Comcast told him to NOT do it), and he ripped a line across the property with a backhoe, stuck the wrong line and covered it (and yep, it isn’t going to work…just like Comcast told him!) So it grows differently, but due to being new, we could use a regular mower on it.

After the flail mowing was mostly done, we pulled out 2 trees at the end of the property. Both were younger trees, and doing nothing productive……..

Before we pull trees out, we take off the branches to about 5-6 feet high. It allows the winch to go around the tree easier, and hey, you have to take them off in the end. Saves time.

Trees gone (though the stumps remain for when our tractor shows up, which can haul the weight). We are working on the sides of the field, taking out brush, and opening up the trees by removing branches up to 6 to 8 feet high off the ground. It lets in light to the ground, air flow and just looks better (it also will give us access to remove dead trees inside the mess).

The second field was treated as lawn overall, and actually kept mowed. Part of that is due to the well head being in it. This is where the greenhouse will be moved in the coming weeks, onto its new foundation.

The field was mostly clear, although on the far side was a number of small trees that were shading the area heavily. By pulling them out, we regain a lot of light. We have found for these trees pulling them down with a winch works fast.

At this point, we had taken 5 trees down. There are a few more behind that came out later/will come out. However, the huge maple tree isn’t going anywhere. It’s shade projects the correct way, and goes over the septic field above, on the hill. As with the other side, we are slowly working on opening up the forest on the fringe, and creating a healthier environment. On this side we have issues with a deciduous “tree” that is a shrub that grows high. As the branches get big, they break easily. And it grows everywhere, choking out the forest.

The boys help as well, and are great for sawing smaller logs up.

For most jobs on the farm we have found the Greenworks 16 inch 40v chainsaw works well. Overall, if we need a stronger chainsaw, it’s usually not a tree we should be felling by ourselves.

Kirk picked up a Logosol holder, which allows one to cut trees into logs without stooping over.

We process the trees: Take off the branches, send them to the chipping pile (we have a chipper that runs off of the BCS tractor), then we cut the trees into logs, which the boys stack to cure, under the maple tree, behind the compost bins.