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  #1  
Old 04/07/13, 06:51 PM
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Best way to clear brush

Hey Folks,

new to the forum - looks interesting though! I'm a newby to farming and homesteading...

I have about 14 acres, with about 4 acres that was used for row crops in the 70s or 80s. since then, it was abandoned and mother nature took over. It's mostly brush like honeysuckle, wild rose, etc, and some yellow pine, maybe 20 feet tall.

I want to turn it into pasture land and maybe put a beef steer or 2 on it some day.

What's the best way to clear this kind of heavy brush? I talked to a guy who wanted $1500 and acre to use a bulldozer to clear it. Is that how it's done? Then burn a huge brush pile?

Thanks

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  #2  
Old 04/07/13, 07:11 PM
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If it was mine I would rent a skid-steer with a brush hog and do it myself. Cut the pines with a chainsaw and put the stump with a truck or the rented skid-steer.

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  #3  
Old 04/07/13, 07:13 PM
 
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Mr Burns wants to know how to clear brush.....

I hope you don't mind my little grin. welcome to the forum.

Clearing land is about time vs money.

If you want it to grow a crop soon, and totally clear of stumps right now, then that is a good way to do it, tho spendy.

If you want to take 5 years to get an ok pasture with a few stumps left to rot away, you can do it much cheaper. But will take some labor, and much more time on your part.

You can pull little shrubs, chainsaw trees, and so on.

You can spray small stuff. And brush hog it.

Hogs or goats can mob graze out thickets, if you are willing to work with trying to keep those critters fenced in.

Anyhow once you get the tall stuff short, then you want to keep it from growing. Spray, constant grazing, fire, clipping - eventually the tree/ shrub will give up, and the roots will die. In a couple years they rot out, and the big ones you can plant and pasture around as they continue to rot away over the years, or you can use a backhoe to dig out the remaining ones cheaper than the dozer.

Many ways to tackle this, just a few ideas.

What is more important, cheaper, or done quickly?

Paul

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  #4  
Old 04/07/13, 08:15 PM
 
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Find yourself a local operator for a mulching grinder.

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  #5  
Old 04/07/13, 09:13 PM
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Rambler - yea, I know it's a simple question, but there are a lot of ways to skin a cat. I have cleared just about 1 acre, using NOTHING but a Stihl Chainsaw and a mattock. Then I rented a stump grinder (Toro Dingo). On 3 separate occasions I rented a chipper (Vermeer tow behind) and chipped up massive brush piles I created. How long did it take to get that acre - 8 years. No ----. And I'm not quite done. But I work full time, and can only do this on the weekends.

So...I won't live long enough at this rate to clear that last 4...I need to trade manual labor for some machine labor. My main concern was preserving the top soil. My neighbor cleared some land with a blade on his Kubota, but he scaped away a lot of topsoil.

That mulching grinder looks like the way to go - but I'm sure its pricey. 1500 an acre is a lot to spend.

One thing I learned the hard way - a house out in the woods on 14 acres is NOT a homestead. It's a house out in the woods.

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Old 04/07/13, 09:24 PM
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Reminds me of the contractor that had business cards that read, " done cheap, done fast, done right. Pick two".

I'd take it down with a tractor mounted 6 foot wide brush hog. Then when the new shoots appear, I'd spray everything with roundup and 2,4D. If you have a long season, I'd spray what got missed.

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  #7  
Old 04/07/13, 09:48 PM
 
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My smile is that its common to burn away brush piles, and your name... Burns.

It just struck me with a chuckle, no harm meant.

You choose good tools, I have 2 of those chainsaws.

You are right in that a dozer can really mess up the ground for a spell.

Chainsaw on the big trees, and a heavy duty brush hog on the stuff 4 inches across and smaller, followed up by a good spraying will give you the best pasture land the quickest with the lowest cost. And won't even touch the soil.

Chipper has always seemed pointless to me, lot of work to accomplish not much at all. Either burn the brush to get rid of it, or let it piled up to rot away in 5 years, why wast the time and fuel and cost to chip it into just a smaller pile of brush.

Stump grinder, or backhoe, or plant around it with your grass seed and let the critters deal with the shoots and let it rot away over time, won't really hurt your pasture any, you just want good growing grass, a couple stumps won't be too bad.

The mulching grinder does look cool, wonder what they cost by the hour? Would be fun!

I really, really liked your last line, that is great. I have lived that line many times on my farm.

Paul

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  #8  
Old 04/07/13, 10:13 PM
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I would fence it and put those couple of beef steer on it. Might need to take a chain saw to the pines, but I think they'll take care of everything else. I know the neighbor has a small herd(5-6) angus on overgrown swampish/forest and it's cleaned out beautifully. Nothing but mature trees and leaves/branches trimmed 6 foot high. Depending on the size of the trees, the cattle may just knock them over too.

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  #9  
Old 04/07/13, 10:28 PM
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If you're in no hurry, fence it and put a herd of goats in.
Once they eat all the brush, the rest will be easy

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Old 04/07/13, 10:55 PM
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I second the goats. They will clear everything & do it pretty quickly if you have enough in there.

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  #11  
Old 04/08/13, 03:06 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Burns View Post

That mulching grinder looks like the way to go - but I'm sure its pricey. 1500 an acre is a lot to spend.
My brother in law runs a mulching grinder operation. I don't know what he charges, but I know its by time, not by acreage. He figures 1-5 acres a day, depending on the terrain and how thick/brushy/viney/etc it is. This is piedmont of NC for reference.
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Old 04/09/13, 12:40 AM
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I Third the goats. If you want it higher use llamas. They are also browsers.

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  #13  
Old 04/09/13, 01:48 AM
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I cleared an acre of brush in 5 seasons using first goats, then after the barbecue a chainsaw and an old self propelled lawnmower during the second season.

The third season I used the acre for combination topsoil compost production and rotted out the remaining stumps with wood ash under the leaves and grass.

During the third and fourth seasons I plowed it and removed remnant roots while continuing to use it for topsoil production for a few more seasons. Now I just mow that area and use it for leaf composting.and maintaining it for topsoil production if I have one of my house building friends in the market for topsoil.

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  #14  
Old 04/09/13, 07:12 AM
 
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Last year, a neighbor took out a grape vineyard about that size with a trackhoe in about a week. The trackhoe had an aggressive bucket with chisel points that could grip the vines, and roots.

That might work for bushes and shrub growth.

geo

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  #15  
Old 04/09/13, 07:58 AM
 
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A question about clearing land: If you drop a live tree the sap can gum things up, and a wet tree is heaver than a dry one. You need to let fire wood dry before you use it, so why not girdle a tree and let it stand and dry; then take it down the next year?

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  #16  
Old 04/09/13, 05:17 PM
 
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Don't know if a tractor is in your future but I'd recommend two things and say one.

Look into Brush Grubbers and read this article: http://howtoclearland.com/PDF/clear_land_all.pdf

What I'd say is grubbers won't work well on pine and the main root goes straight down so be ready to dig.

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  #17  
Old 04/10/13, 06:25 AM
 
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I've cleared a lot of land over the years. The fast, easy way is to have a contractor come in with a grinder of some sort. After he leaves you still have to contend with the aftermath and get the grass growing. Or you can do it the cheaper, harder way with a chainsaw and bush hog. You end up with brush piles for a couple years, but you also tend to do a better job. The easiest way is to put livestock of some kind on the land give them a couple years. You end up with a lot less to cut, but it will be larger stuff. Hogs and goats work great for this. But it's still labor intensive in the end.

There is no truly easy way to do it. Some are just faster than others.

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  #18  
Old 04/10/13, 07:24 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bret4207 View Post
I've cleared a lot of land over the years. The fast, easy way is to have a contractor come in with a grinder of some sort. After he leaves you still have to contend with the aftermath and get the grass growing. Or you can do it the cheaper, harder way with a chainsaw and bush hog. You end up with brush piles for a couple years, but you also tend to do a better job. The easiest way is to put livestock of some kind on the land give them a couple years. You end up with a lot less to cut, but it will be larger stuff. Hogs and goats work great for this. But it's still labor intensive in the end.

There is no truly easy way to do it. Some are just faster than others.
I have cleared some with the paid help of a friend and his small excavator. He has a skid loadere with a homemade aligator mouth type picker-upper that made quick work of the dense areas. He could pop out some multiflora clusters and trees. I have also done mostly hand to hand combat with the chain saw and Kink Kutter mower by backing in to them to cut them off close to the ground and stacking in rabbit and burn piles. It sounds awful when the dry kanes are are going through the mower. Eye protection is required.

I have had to have someone weld cracks in the deck that I have cause by pushing into things that I shouldn't. It's what I have to work with.
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  #19  
Old 04/12/13, 07:59 PM
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thanks everyone for the input.

Seems like the easiest way to own cleared land is to buy cleared land in the first place!

Of course, that would have cost more. The previous owners of my place were some retired college professor nature boy types. They bult a nice house out in the woods, and left everything else "completely natural". Not even a veg. garden or a fruit tree. On one hand I can appreciate that approach, but I need to coax a little produce from the land.

I used a chipper because I wanted to use the chips to fill in holes here and there and paths through the woods.

FYI - the online name of Mr. Burns is copied from the Simpsons character - the cranky old guy. Wifey says that's what I will soon be like. It never occured to that Mr. Burns should should burn the brush -ha!

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  #20  
Old 04/12/13, 08:11 PM
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Rent a mini excavator for a couple days u can pull everything that don't belong up easy an quick. 1500$ an acre is a lot. 1500$ u could prolly get a weeks rental for a mini ex an have change.

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