Battling the Brush

Now that I’ve discussed some of the major hurdles with the land (buying it, planning board meetings, road construction, architects), I wanted to talk about the land itself. This post will focus on the overgrowth that has run amok on the property. Prior to our purchase, the previous owners were not using it for much. There was some haying and at one point the field served as a horse pasture. There had been some lumber harvesting in the past and an attempt to grow Christmas trees I believe. Unfortunately much of the land had grown wild.

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Ferns on our “path”

Once summer arrived it became very difficult to traverse the so-called paths that skirted the perimeter of the woods. Going walking with a pair of loppers was a wise precaution. We could see massive poison ivy vines climbing the trees that were wider than a soda can. Grape vines, wild raspberry bushes, multiflora rose, and bittersweet had spread out through the forest along with other unnamed thorny plant-beasts.

We started to pick specific areas adjacent to our open field within which to spend our clearing time. One particular spot held an old stone wall. We have many stone walls along our properties. Some clearly mark out the boundaries of the property while others hold no current use. One of the nearby stone walls had been overtaken:

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Overgrown!

You might have some trouble seeing the stone wall in there. One of the satisfying parts of clearing brush is when you are able to clip them close to the ground and pull out entire bushes at a time. We haven’t decided how to keep them from growing back though, so we expect to have to battle it out for a few years until they give up. We are hesitant to use any pesticide and root-digging is quite an endeavor.

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Hello in there

We kept at it until we actually reached quite a respectable stage:

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Take that, weeds!

As awesome as it is to complete such projects it’s a bit daunting to realize that we need to replicate this process a hundred times to reach this kind of result all across our property. “Work of a lifetime,” is an oft repeated phrase.

Here is another similar clearing project. This one was particularly cool because we wanted access to the old hand dug well on the property. I used a shovel as a rough comparison device across photos:

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There’s a well in there

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Partway through

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Now you can see the rocks that cover the well

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Mostly cleared!

We measured the well depth by using a sea retrieval magnet on rope. We didn’t grab anything magnetic from the bottom of the well and presumably there’s not much down there. We estimated the depth to be 33 feet. The previous owner told us that it has never been dry that he recalls though it can get very low in August. It’s covered with a very heavy stone:

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Well entrance

Once you heave that rock away you can see a very cool hand dug well. We haven’t figured out an easy way to access the water. I considered a hand pump but the effort one would expend to draw up a barrel of water seemed impractical. We don’t have electricity so it would have to utilize a battery. Since none of us have a background in getting something like this functional we haven’t solved it yet. One day it would be great to use it for agriculture, especially on the further field.

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Water level in end of April

Our progress in clearing brush continues on. Sometimes one of us has a particular hankering to improve a specific area so we struggle against it for a couple afternoons. Usually I’m dreaming of how a backhoe could do it in 1/10th the time. But even with the countless thorns attacking us it’s a fun way to get to know the land.

-Clara

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2 thoughts on “Battling the Brush

  1. I bought fiddleheads at Whole Foods today — it’s that time of year! Your photo of ferns makes me wonder… are those the right kind of ferns for eating? Do you remember where those were? You could harvest a feast right there.

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    • The fiddleheads you can eat are from the Ostrich fern. I examined a bunch last year but none of them were ostrich. I think we’ll probably try to start our own ostrich ferns so we know they’re good to eat.

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