Friday, October 28, 2011

#124 - Starting From Scratch --- All Over Again!

Nearly ten years ago, when we purchased our acreage, it was raw land that had untold years of growth on it. Walking through the forest on our land, we would be in awe at the towering trees, the thick vines growing upward through the dark, dense canopy to reach the sunlight at the top of the trees and our feet would walk upon the soft pine needle paths through the forest.

Realizing that we would need some area cleared for us to enjoy on our weekend trips, we decided to clear a couple of acres of the dense underbrush. So, we hired a man with a bull-dozer to come to our property for three days of nonstop work so we could get on top of readying the land for our RV to be put into place.

All of these pictures are from ten years ago, when we first attempted to clear a little section of our land.

Mr. Bulldozer Man hard at work, pushing all trees that are being
cleared into a big pit that's on the land. And yes, he is fast.

How did we find Mr. Bulldozer Man? Well, we went to the little convenience store at the corner, asked around and the owner pointed out a bulletin board that listed a few locals looking for work. Presto!

With a good deal worked out for everyone involved, the bulldozer's capability amazed me. That little piece of machinery is pretty awesome. I almost feel like making a little manly grunting kind of noise when watching this piece of machinery in action...must be the nearly non-existent testosterone flowing through me.

Me woman; me like big machines, and me like lots of dirt...ugh, ugh, ugh. Or, whatever sound it is that a man would make as he listens to the engine purr.

Deputy Dave climbed on board and would help guide Mr. Bulldozer Man around our property boundaries so we could clear the perimeter and make it safe for our vehicles and RV.

Our RV ended up being there for three years. Sometimes, during the summer months, we would stay on our property for two weeks at a time.

Our daughters made friends with the local kids, often going to the skate rink on weekends. However, these country friends talked about their horses, about their FHA activities and living in the country while my daughter's talked about living in the NASA community (at the time). The girls actually became more broad-minded by this experience.

We had to hide the keys from this one. Stefie was dangerous.

And talk about dangerous...look at this one! Who said daughters were of sugar and spice
and everything nice? How about POWER, FIRE, and
Can we say, "Stop, Drop and Roll??
My oldest figured out that she loves the country and my youngest figured out that she loves the city. But, the great part is...they are able to live in either environment, they are quite flexible.

Back to the land clearing...I can tell you that it was quite sickening to watch part of our land be cleared of the dense underbrush. The bull-dozer driver happened to be knowledgeable about the trees and tried to reassure me that most of the trees that we were forced to remove in this area were "trash" trees.

Besides, we were only clearing a rather small area in the middle of the property for the RV to be tucked away, but it still felt painful every time a tree was pushed into the pit. Of course, we tagged oaks and steered clear of those. But the china berry trees and such were shoved into the pit.

Finally, we were able to see that it would be possible to drive our vehicles into and onto our property and to pull in a 30+ foot RV, turn around and have plenty of room to maneuver.

And, unlike our neighbors who very recently clear-cut their land, completely clear-cut it...we did not trespass onto their land and tear it up. In fact, we left our tree line between properties so that all of us would have ample privacy. Good thing we took this course of action because, little did we know, those land-owners would soon be bull-dozing everything in sight, including a few trees on OUR property.

We did our land clearing about ten years ago, the neighbors clear cut their land this past year, and I made a previous post about that shocking revelation upon one of our weekend trips to the land. They probably harvested their timber to sell to a lumber company. They also made quite a few turn abouts on our property with their heavy equipment making deep rivets and pits that our lawn tractor cannot traverse. It would take another pricey bull-dozer job to get things smoothed out enough again to correct the problems the neighbor caused on our property.

See, this is how we did work along the area that was owned by another
property owner...we kept a nice tree-line in these areas for privacy.
Oh well, so much for having mysterious country neighbors that we've never seen because no one lives out there in the boonies. Except for US...we will soon be living out there full-time. WE will be the neighbors of NO ONE in particular. For a city person, that is a heavy concept.

In the end, after the partial clearing of this little area of our land approximately ten years go, we were left with a bunch of dirt. But, the blackberry vines were completely torn to shreds in this zone and the dirt was so soft and composted that it was ready for the St. Augustine sod that we would soon be laying. More back-breaking work! But, so worth it!

And here is what the land that had been cleared once upon a time looks like these days...

The areas where we planted the St. Augustine grass so many years ago is much easier to maintain and harder for the Blackberry vines with their nasty thorns to break through. Plus, the grass continues to spread out farther and farther each year. The runners from the sod stretch themselves outward like fingers trying to close around everything in sight. We love this part about St. Augustine grass. And for Texas, it is hardy and safe for farm animals.

Before the mowing took place, but the area in the back that had once been
totally cleared is now covered with more towering trees. You can't really tell in
the photo, but there are probably fifty "new" trees in this one area we had
cleared and half of those are over fifteen feet tall already.

Yep, this is part of the area we had cleared. But, it hasn't been taken
over by St. Augustine grass yet, so you can see the blackberry thorns
heavy throughout this area. Not a place to walk barefooted or without
jeans because those vines will wrap around you leg and leave their mark!

All of the trees that have grown over the past ten years in the "freshly tilled" ground will serve a greater purpose as we begin to build on our property. We will harvest this area of trees to use for projects here and there.

Most of all, the power of mother nature is staggering. Since we have not been able to live on our land full-time, all the work we do on any given trip seems to magically disappear because of rapid growth. This land is extremely fertile and has natural springs below it...a perfect recipe for the most monstrous Miracle Grow capability you've ever seen.

However, I'm ready to figure out how difficult it will be to "tame" this land once we're living there on a regular basis. Getting started in the woods is a challenge. The Big Thicket can be overwhelming with its prolific growth, but I'm ready, willing and semi-able! At least I can start the slow process of putting down more St. Augustine grass or we can harvest some of the sod that's already in place and begin planting more plugs of St. Augustine all around the property.

Then, we will see what it looks like in the NEXT ten years! Ugh, ugh, ugh.


Tim and Kari O'Brien said...

Lana these are such wonderful pictures. It is amazing to see the change in the land over time and the change as your children grow up. They will have very special memories of this place. It looks like there is a lake near your land. Will you have access to the water? Thanks for a great blog! said...

My kids are now aged 24 and 21. Time DID fly! But, they both grew up having roots to this land. And yes, there is a private lake at the back of our land - it's about 15 acres of spring fed lake so the water is constantly running and feeding down onto the creek that runs through our property. I love it there. We often go boating in the little lake, catch fish for lunch and just have a wonderful time. I will be glad, one day, to have my grand-kids come to our land. We're trying our best to get started out there so we can get settled out there as quickly as possible, but I have a feeling that none of it will go very fast!


LindaG said...

Boy, do I know about regrowth.
Did not know that about St. Augustine. May have to plant that here. I dislike weeding only to stick my hand in thorns.

I'm very happy for you all. ♥

Mike said...

I'm thinking you're referring to Tim Allen with the manly grunting sounds. He made a lot of money in his early years using that grunt in his stand up routine...and beyond.

If y'all don't hurry up I'm going to have to move out there and begin clearing and maintaining that land. ;) said...

Linda --- Texas is big into St. Augustine grass. Most all neighborhoods around here have it for their lawns. It cannot be planted via seedlings, but you can either buy a pallet of sod that comes in layers to lay out and with a few good waterings over the next few weeks, it looks beautiful...or you can separate the sod into "plugs and randomly put them in the ground here and there and the runners will eventually begin to spread out. It is a grass that is very helpful in preventing soil erosion as well. It's soft enough to sit on, have a picnic on and stays green for most of the year, except for the harsh winter time here in Texas, but it always comes back in early Spring.

And I'm with you on the weeding and thorns. Ouch!

Mike --- You knew EXACTLY what I was going for!! I could not remember, for the life of me, during my writing that post what the name of the show had been...Home Improvement!! I LOVED that show. Everyone in our house would walk around doing the manly grunt, even us three girls. haha. I think he strinks that primal need to let go of the beast within when we see something we like...cracks me up. And, your chickens would love it out there!! Well, if any of the chickens will be able to survive the local predators. Deputy Dave and I have been having a lot of discussions about "What's Next..." This move is the hardest one we've ever made. But, the most thrilling.

Farm Equipment said...

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