Need to fix up old pasture

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by jackie c, Sep 23, 2004.

  1. jackie c

    jackie c Well-Known Member

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    I have an old over grown pasture, covered with willow, tag alder, and such brushy vegetation. How do I eracticate these things so they won't grow back? Do I have to dig them out, do I have to use herbicide(yuck)? I don't have a tractor, but can borrow one. Also I have had some wood harvested behind this pasture and they left huge ruts all over how do I fix them?
     
  2. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Without a tractor, it would be a monster of a job. You didn't say how large it is and that would make a big difference. Willows are hard to kill. You could cut them close to the ground with a chain saw and paint the stumps with some dope that kills the roots. It works on most trees, but willow roots run from one tree to the next. If you get every thing cut down to the ground with a tractor bush hog a couple time a year and graze it heavily, the brush should eventialy die without spray, but spraying brush killer is the swift way to kill it. Do you think this field was ever plowed and planted or is it too rough for that?
     

  3. poorme

    poorme Well-Known Member

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    i don't know, but maybe goats would eat all that stuff? :confused:
     
  4. twstanley

    twstanley Well-Known Member

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    The way I have used is to brush hog the pasture then use a chain saw to cut down to ground level anything to big to brush hog.

    That's what I have done, if you have a way to keep mowing the pasture the grass will choke out the weeds and brush over time.

    I have been able to mow mine every two weeks this summer and they are really starting to look nice.

    As far as the ruts, if you can get a box blade to use behind the tractor that would be a good tool to level the ruts out.
     
  5. jackie c

    jackie c Well-Known Member

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    Thanks all. I don't know if the field was ever used for anything but horses, have no idea if it was ever plowed and planted, it is very old though. I 'll have to cut most of it down with a saw I guess and use some herbicide. I didn't want to use chemicals but without renting a backhoe (for an unfathomable amount of money) I don't see any alternatives. :no:
     
  6. 3girls

    3girls Well-Known Member

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    Jacki,

    One way, over a minimum amount of time, is to use real live hogs. SECURELY fence in an area, throw corn around, and turn 'rm loose. No chemicals, meat at the end of the season, possible sales, etc. In the meantime, just take a chain saw to the tall stuff every so often. Plants need leaves (chlorophyl) to grow. Deny it to them and over time they'll die. Again, don't know the size of the pasture, but I would use hogs if it were mine.

    Good luck,

    Sandi
     
  7. jackie c

    jackie c Well-Known Member

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    I have been using hogs, actually first time this year and yes they do a fine job :D .
    But the feild is about five acres so I think your other idea will work. I intend on using hogs to help as well, but from what I've seen this year the area has to be fairly small for the amount of hogs that I'm able to care for (5-6) maybe a few more next year depending on how well they sell this year. But hey every little bit helps. Thanks for the input, allways appreciated :)
     
  8. whodunit

    whodunit Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I would suggest goats but they are soo hard to fence in or out so I will suggest donkeys, they love brush and weeds, are very easy keepers, cheep to get (the 2 out in our pasture where free) and dont take much to fence in or out. We have just one hot wire and its not even plugged in. I have had donkeys 12 years and love them.
     
  9. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

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    Jackie,
    I have basically a similar situation with about 20 acres that were once cattle pasture. Since moving here about 12 years ago, never did anything about it, since it's land idle from farming as such. It does attract the deer, I must say.
    I have been wondering lately about keeping some of the willow growth in check. Some of it is well over head high, though it's interspersed enough to have enough open land that is mixed red clover/trefoil pasture from most of what I've been able to tell.
    I don't know that I'll be clearing it aggressively, though I do burn off the grass about every other spring. This keeps some of the growth of the smaller bush in check, though it doesn't kill off the larger tough willow and alder shrubs.
    I don't know that I want to bother with goats, and pigs would be too big of an expense to figure on fencing in and I would prefer not to have pigs there anyway. It's open enough, but could be refenced for larger stock perhaps.
    I wonder what experience anyone has with breeds of cattle that could be mutually beneficial. I've heard Scottish highland is one type. OR what other type of livestock endeavor?? OR maybe better just leave it for making trails for x country skiiing? :haha:
     
  10. mysticokra

    mysticokra Well-Known Member

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    Nature always "fills in the blanks". What do you want to clear the land for?

    You will spend as much on herbicides as the rental on a bush hog or bulldozer would cost for a day. 5 acres could be cleared in that time. Since you already have the benefit of all the "life" that is in the soil, (bacteria, worms, etc.) why kill it to just to get a clear spot of ground?

    Once cleared, what will you plant there? If you don't plant something, nature will fill in the blanks for you.
     
  11. deberosa

    deberosa SW Virginia Gourd Farmer!

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    I had several large areas like you describe to clear. I started with the chain saw and would get the chain ruined cutting close to the ground so switched to a saws all saw with a rough wood blade - it works great! You can actually cut below the dirt line and not hurt the saw at all. For slightly larger trees (mine wer alders) I tied them to my truck and pulled them out by the roots. Where I cut the smaller brush they have new sprouts but I keep it mowed and now the grass is taking over. I took the time to hand weed all knoxious weeds such as thistle, tansy, etc. Bagged those and got them off site.

    I don't have 5 acres to clear, but I'm making good progress with this gradual approach. I mow with a small Kubota mower set on it's highest setting.

    Haven't found any solutions for the ruts without getting in heavy equipment or lot's of hard labor. I have ruts across parts of my pasture also. I'll keep thinking on that problem until next spring. :) I am sort of thinking one of them might be the start of a small pond - I won't have to dig so much to make the pond since the depression is already there and around here those ruts fill with water naturally in the rainy season. Or I may give up and say I have the start of raised beds too!
     
  12. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

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    hi Deberosa, All good advice. Chainsaws work better on the bigger diameter trees. Chains are easy to sharpen, though dirt and sand is really tough on keeping them sharp.
    My little tip on the shrubs or trees less than about 2 inches in diameter is to use a large pruning sheer. I use this extensively to clear a trail. It saves gas from using a brush trimmer, and can be amazingly fast. It may help in clearing in patches or stages of an overgrown area.

    On the idea of a pond. I had one dug because the machinery was there when they put in the septic field and it saved money from doing it separately. I think it cost an extra $700 at the time. Otherwise would have cost a couple thousand and I wouldn't have had the pond dug. Mainly I needed to pond to hold baitfish, but that's another story. So, I wondered about the best location, so you scout out your land slopes for the best catchment that you can tell when it rains heavy. That pond kept water even at the worst drought stages, and they dug it so it's clay bound that also holds the water. I'm glad of choosing that spot over the one that 'seemed' to be a better location that appeared lower but really wasn't. If that makes any sense. :rolleyes:
     
  13. deberosa

    deberosa SW Virginia Gourd Farmer!

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    Oh yes, my loppers cleared a half acre of himilayan blackberries in the past year. Also good for cleaning off the small branches low on the trunks of trees so you don't whack your face when you walk around. ;-) I always take the loppers when going for a walk around my place.

    My pond will be for ducks and geese. It doesn't need to be deep. I think if I dig down a few feet I will hit the natural water table in one part of my pasture! Haven't found clay around here yet, so will probably need to line it with something, not sure.
     
  14. boolandk

    boolandk Well-Known Member

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    Could you do a controlled burn to the pasture? Don't know if its legal by you but have seen it done with good results.
     
  15. I would suggest using Goats and making money off of the goats as well. I'm doing the very same thing with about the same amount of land. This last spring (early spring) I bought some weening age Boer cross breeds and gave $22.50 each for them at a local sale barn. I kept them behind a electric fence all summer. Did not buy one bag of feed for them, just let them eat all the brush they wanted. Then just last week I took them back to the same sale barn and recieved $52.50 each for them.

    The land I started with almost looked like the amazon jungle 3 years ago. Now it is real clean and easy to walk and see through.
     
  16. mrglock27

    mrglock27 Well-Known Member

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    I rented a medium sized kubota (about 30 horspower) with a boxscraper that had 3 big ripper teeth on it for about $75 for one day. you could probably scrape your whole property and levelout the ruts in 1 day. Then go to the local feed store and buy about 5 bags of pasture seed. About $25 dollars for a 25# bag, they have different blends with various grasses and clovers, the seed will start sprouting in 7 to 10 days. For about $200 and 2 weeks you will have a new pasture growing.
     
  17. Christiaan

    Christiaan Dutch Highlands Farm

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    How about Highland cattle? Weaned steers are $1 a pound. Simple one strand electric keeps them in, don't need shelter, will devour shrubs and trees. At 24 months, slaughter and sell as grassfed, $3/lb.
     
  18. unioncreek

    unioncreek Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I agree with Christiaan, use either Highlands or Longhorns. I had seven acres that had probably 4 acres of willows, some were as large as 4 inches in diameter. I bought two Longhorn hiefers and in a little over a year they cleaned it up. Willow leaves are very high in protein. Even some trees that are 20 feet high and eight inches in diameter don't survive, they strip the bark off and in a year the tree is dead and then I cut it down for fire word.

    Bob
    eastern WA