Saturday, December 31, 2016

Converting A Fifteen Year Old Wood Lot Back To Pasture

In November of 2016 my wife and I purchased the nearly twenty acres adjacent to our horse lot for the use of our program. The acreage was all part of my grand father's farm. This gives us approximately sixty acres of total land for the program.

The newly purchased land was planted as a pasture in the late 1990's. Since that time perhaps 60-70% has been gradually overtaken, in varying degrees, by sweet gum,ash, pine, wild cherry and mimosa. We set out to remove all sweet gum, all wild cherry, all small pine and nearly all of the ash. We left a band of app. one acre of ash, over fifteen feet long on average, to use as pollard forage and nearly every gum and ash stumps were left to develop coppice forage.

The portion of the pasture that was not in trees held a strong remnant of clump style fescue that has been there for nearly 20 years. The land has not been fertilized or limed in at least fifteen years. We will obtain soil samples today to determine what the soil needs.

Larger pines cover about 1.5-2 acres. In that area we will raise ossabaw pigs and heritage breed poultry. We might also take advantage of the shade and construct a wooden round pen for summer horse training and demonstrations.

To date all land clearing has been done with a few handsaws, several loppers, three chainsaws, and a brush buster. Felled trees are being delimbed and the trunks of the gum, pine and ash are being cut in sections over 10 feet long and  are used as poles for the pole fencing that we are constructing. Posts for that fence are being  cut from the wild cherry and mimosa. The fence perimeter is .64 miles. We are not fencing in all of the land at this moment.

A significant amount of the land clearing will be done by our livestock. As soon as the land is fenced we will add a band of Spanish goats and three donkeys. I expect them to make quick work of the brier and honey suckle that has grown up in a few spots. I hope to have either Cracker or Piney Woods cattle join our program to assist in that job

Sections of trunk that is too short for use either as poles or posts will be collected for spring hugelkulture projects. Branches are being placed in brush piles. Some of these brush piles will remain for wild life habitat. The other will be burned, or if it is financially feasible, reduced to chips and spread over the land.

As part of our educational mission we intend to build an eastern Algonquin type scare crow hut, a Choctaw Chickee, a wickiup, and perhaps even a Cherokee type log structure.

We have now installed a sixteen hydrant water system and an artesian well. The new land will be eventually connected to that system although it will require many fewer hydrants.

Lastly, before spring arrives we will complete creating a perimeter around our land that will allow for over two miles of riding without ever leaving our land.

In short, we are creating the perfect environment to preserve and promote nearly extinct strains of Colonial Spanish horses, to teach history, ecology, horse training, riding, and everything else that goes on in our program.

All with no paid staff.

1 comment:

Dianne W said...

Be sure to save one brush pile for a wiener roast!