How to clean up a zillion branches?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by prairie hill, Sep 29, 2005.

  1. prairie hill

    prairie hill Well-Known Member

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    We are dropping a number of dead elms on our property. Elms are soooo weedy and when they die there are absolutely countless small brittle branches that break off and go everywhere. Granted, there's lots of kindling there, but its everywhere.
    Does anyone have any practical ideas about cleaning this up in good time, other than just picking up forever? We need to clear these out so we can get new stuff in (NOT elm, needless to say) and we heat with wood, so there's a plan in play here, but this mess is getting kinda discouraging.
    Thanks for any help.
     
  2. misslinda

    misslinda Well-Known Member

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    One thing I would do is to get all the grandkids together and have a pick up sticks day!! Maybe pay them $5 or whatever you decide on...maybe have a break with ice cream or cookies...again...you can decide that. Maybe have a contest on who can gather the most sticks and the winner would get something you can decide on...may $5 extra...or....whatever!! It is one way to get the job done!! Good luck!!!
     

  3. Sparticle

    Sparticle Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Are they too big to just mow over and mulch?
     
  4. MoonShine

    MoonShine Fire On The Mountain

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    That's a good idea...
     
  5. BaronsMom

    BaronsMom Well-Known Member

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    That's what we do...kids get a bucket and pick up sticks. At our house, they don't get paid...do it for love

    But, at grandma's she loves giving them a few dollars for helping (and we can't stop her from doing it....)
     
  6. Pony

    Pony Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Sounds like a good youth group project to me... ;)

    Seriously, other than raking them up, I cannot think of anything. We've lost so many elms in the neighborhood this year because of the drought. Such a shame, because (next to the linden) American elms are my absolutely favorite tree.

    The other thing to watch for from elms is, once they're down, they keep shooting up suckers for YEARS. We lost what had been the largest elm tree left in our town a few years ago, and only just this year stopped getting shoots. Still get the occasional crop of mushrooms, though.

    Good luck.

    Pony!
     
  7. Cabin Fever

    Cabin Fever Life NRA Member since 1976 Supporter

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    I'm with quntmphscs on this one. Pick up the big branches and leave the small ones. The mower will either pass over or chop up the small twigs and suckers. Eventually, the suckers will not come back and the small twigs will "disappear" into the thatch.
     
  8. Steph in MT

    Steph in MT Well-Known Member

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    We just bought a used wood chipper at a pawn shop for a very good price and are chipping anything too small to burn in the woodstove. Dave's spreading the chips and pine needles in the spots that get muddy during winter time. He's gotten so much use out of it these past two weeks that we feel it's already paid for itself. :)
    Steph
     
  9. Wolf mom

    Wolf mom Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Prairie Hll for the question and S. & D. for your useful answer.

    Lots'a dead pines from drought & pine beetles. I can use the trunks, but oh, all those branches. Chipping is just the thing paths for our muddy, muddy winters.
     
  10. Shepherd

    Shepherd Well-Known Member

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    I love the smaller, dry stuff for kindling to start fires with. Bigger stuff, too little to mess with for the fireplace (as far as DH is concerned), is hauled to a big burn pile and we burn once or twice a year when there's hardly any breeze and there's no danger of the fire getting out of control.

    Our mowers to go over a lot of the smaller stuff. We're in the middle of a forrest tho, so you can imagine how many twigs and leaves we deal with. Lucky for me, it's a berm home so I can just walk along the side of the house and clean out the eaves troughs with my hand... a very easy job, until I get to the south end; I need a ladder for that.

    Every now and then a walnut or small limb will fall onto the roof and scare the bejeebers outta me for a second till I realize what it probably is.
     
  11. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

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    Just don't do what my mother did. She brought a huge pile of dead elm and willow branches and twigs in and stuffed them in the fireplace and set it on fire. Then she sat back and said 'I just LOVE a nice crackling fire on a cool day!' Meanwhile I am frantically running for buckets of water because it looked like the house was going next. For some reason she got rather bent out of shape when I started spraying water on her bonfire.
     
  12. birdie_poo

    birdie_poo Well-Known Member

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    Most papers have a give-away section. You would be amazed ad what people will pick up if it's free.

    Just put an ad in for free kindling - you bundle - you haul.
     
  13. Shepherd

    Shepherd Well-Known Member

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    ROFL Cyngbaeld!!!!!! Sounds like me, freaking about a fire getting out of control. When we get the bonfire going real good, and it's burned down well... dh decides it's time for bed! Because I'm such a worry wart about it, I have to keep going back down to check on it and make sure the entire forrest doesn't go up in flames because of some wind kicking up or something!

    I'm usually up till 3 or 4 AM still checking on it. We've left it before and the next day I can still go down and stir up sparks... makes ME nervous. The last time, it rekindled the fire pretty good so I went and got a hose to hose it down... the wind was kicking up and I was home alone. No sense taking chances.

    We always have our burn piles within reach of one of our water hydrants, and we hose the outter area down real good before starting the fire, then keep the hose "at ready" just in case.
     
  14. comfortablynumb

    comfortablynumb Well-Known Member

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    two hands, feedbags and time.
     
  15. travis91

    travis91 Formerly 4animals.

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    oh how about 50 55 gallon drums and 20 gallons of gas then you have lots of fertilizer for the garden!!
     
  16. mrglock27

    mrglock27 Well-Known Member

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    oooo yeah throw some deisel and oil and plastic on the fire too then use the ashes in your vegetable garden...........................NOT!
     
  17. prairie hill

    prairie hill Well-Known Member

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    Well, the grandkids are actually grandbabies (2,1, and 10 months) and the two year-old (though it may be a wee bit fun for him) lives about 2000 miles away, so I guess that won't work.

    Most of these brittle small branches are finger/thumb-size or so - a million 6- 16" sticks out there, it seems. Too big to mow over.

    I'm still wondering if there is something that we could sorta rake it all up into piles with, then deal with it Every spring our neighbor cleans his hay field with a big thing he made himself from a section of chain link and some sort of rigid framing (is this a harrow? I'm showing my ignorance here, I know) that he drags behind his tractor. It stirs things up quite well, and drags a lot of brushy, winter-blow in junk off the field. None of it is branches... but something like that might help with all the bark that's everywhere, too.

    Maybe I'll ask him, too, what he thinks.

    Thanks, all.
     
  18. fordson major

    fordson major construction and Garden b Supporter

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    if you have a tractor try and locate a landscape rake,these work well at gathering up the branchs though can be hard on tires . or an old fashion dump rake though these are getting scarce. we have lotsa kids and they like an outdoor weenie roast so usually have little trouble gather boughs plus an outdoor party end of october and a skating/sledding party(s) through the winter! if you had neighbour kids you could host a fall party bonfire (depending on the kids! some are little :flame: :flame: )