Thursday, July 21, 2011

Every woodlot needs a place to stay

It has been a while since I posted anything because I have not had a chance to go out to the property. One of those reasons is the lack of shelter for the rest of the family or for spending the night. We tossed around the ideas of constructing a permanent tent site with a pavilion, cabin, buying a small home that went up for sale down the road, and even selling the place and buying closer to be able to sleep at home. Five hours of total travel time really kills the chance to get in a good days work. Relaxing ends up being out of the question, and what do we do with a 2 year old daddy's girl when he has to use dangerous equipment? We decided on a travel trailer since it can be used elsewhere for vacations, self contained(ie no utilities), no work to do at the property to be useable, instant climate controlled room to contain my daughter, and no tempting structure to steal stuff from since we will be towing it back and forth. The only hassle will be when I need the tractor and trailer together; so I may start casually looking for a later model 1 ton flatbed to put the tractor on the back and tow the trailer with. It is why I specifically looked for a tractor that was small (8' long) and light weight (1000lbs).

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Used tractor implements

A used heavy duty tractor implement is a better buy, in my opinion, than some of the cheap looking new ones out in today's marketplace. The box blade you see to the right is a prime example. It is the proper width of 42" for my little tractor, uses captured pins for the 3 pt hitch instead of the common single sided ones, has a hinged tailboard with bolts to make it fixed, and weighs much more than the current crop of SCUT and CUT sized box blades. The only downside is the cutting edges are worn and have already been reversed. I am looking forward to a little seat time leveling out some of the forest road on our place and the funky off camber slippery slope next to the pond that keeps me out of the woods in the truck any time it is slightly damp in fear of sliding into the water. If we get a dry spell, I will be using it to cut a mud dam the beaver pushed up. My wife will also enjoy the smoother, level paths I can now make. I would also like to give the dealer a plug for going above and beyond. Zimmerer Kubota in Denton is where I found this little gem. They gave me the 3 pins to mount it, which were not shown in the internet listing. They also retapped the rear tailgate bolt holes and fitted new bolts with lock washers. I also had a chat with Len(sp?) Zimmerer about my tractor and the box blade since they opened when the B6100 was new and this box blade brand and style was the model they rented with it when interest rates were so high nobody could afford to buy. It is not every day you get a history lesson and a little implement refurbishing after you purchase something.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Removing a beaver from a pond: Step 2

I made it out to the property yesterday to set up 2 Conibear 330's for the beaver. New sign was everywhere; so it is definitely still around. I had a lot of help from one of the moderators over at The Pondboss forum. I am not sure I would have safely figured out how to set them, or place them properly. He had a simple rope method to set the springs that left our digits out of the danger areas if it should trip. The traps were set in places where the beaver was entering and leaving the water with the trap's top just higher than the water level. We used sticks to block off any other routes to the spot making the beaver go through the trap. A little pile of mud was placed at the shoreline and a twig was some castor lure was stuck in its top. Now it is a waiting game until the beaver decides to use those two pathways or investigate the lure. I hope step 3 will be the removal of a beaver from a trap and not resetting traps to catch a wiley beaver or more beavers; so stay tuned.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Removing a beaver from a pond: Step 1

A beaver can wreak havoc on a forest. Providing one with a nice pond for a home increases the chances it will settle in for the long term. Unless you like the looks of the picture at left, making it leave or removal are the only options. Previous visiting beavers left because of the fluctuating pond water level. Beavers do not like changing water levels. The current resident beaver has pushed a little mud around and, combined with a little silting in of the spillway channel, has managed to establish a stable water level on the pond for now. It has set up a nice lodge on our dirt pile at the western shore. We have been lucky that the beaver seem to prefer the green ash and willow growing along the pond shore and have only chewed a few larger green ash junk trees in the forested areas. I could try to induce it to move, but that would require quite a bit of dirt work redigging the spillway channel. Digging the channel does not create the fluctuating water level, droughty summers combined with it do. The only guaranteed way is removal. Many do not recommend shooting as they get real hard to catch or shoot with a missed shot. Trapping is the solution I am going with. A couple of conibear 330's and a castor oil bait are on their way. I have had lots of help from the folks over at . In fact, one of the members may be able to help me out on site in setting the traps. These are large traps taht are dificult to set and can really hurt you; so I would not recommend setting one without help and first hand knowledge. You may also want to check up on any local laws dealing with fur bearing animals and trapping. I hope to provide the follow up post on the removed nuisance beaver in a few weeks.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The orchard site

I have decided an orchard is the best option for an area north of the pond that has a few trees, lots of grass, and almost no regeneration. Best managment practices say you should not cut trees near streams and other bodies of water. I would not want to plant a tree that I knew would be cut down in the future. Especially since the recommended BMP buffer zone is only going to expand in the future as more people veiw the land as something to protect and not another harvest. The orchard site is in a V between the inlet stream and the outlet stream for the pond. In the photo, you can see the site and the scattered trees that must come out. A bit of land may be useable on the eastern side of the outlet stream as well. A delimna has risen over what to plant. These are not just a yearly crop so you don't want to get it wrong. Mayhaws were my first thought, but the problem is marketing the berries. Jelly and other retail products would be easier, but take a $10k certified kitchen to produce legally. I have begun studying other fruits to grow organically, but run into time, quality, and sitability issues. Pecans are starting to be the front runners now. They have the most proven organic research. A lot of support is available in Texas, including marketing. It is also wide spread and accumulators are present in many locations that buy from small producers. The trick now is figuring out if a small scale operation can make enough money to justify the required equipment. Oh well, more reading to do while I prepare the site by cutting a few trees and starting mowing it down real low in preparation for planting next winter.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Clearing a piece of overgrown pond shore

I would have loved to have spent a day on the tractor, but the job at hand took priority. A skid steer with a mulching head would have been the perfect tool if I had the cash. Free manual labor had to do this time. The original pond must have been rectangular with a dam around all 4 sides. On the north side, it is mostly removed with a big peninsula on the west as pictured below and a smaller one on the east. The smaller one would make a nice secluded campsite. We need room for a tent pad, fire ring, and sitting area. It is relatively flat and overgrown with small trees and lots of thorny vines. You can see how dense it is on the edges of the photo. The brush saw would not stay running for long, but once I started taking the chainsaw to things I realized most was to large for my brush saw anyways. I had about 3 1/2 hours to do some clearing after a quick walk around the place to check everything. One more day should do it on the clearing and then I can take a sharp mattock to any offending stubs and mow the vines. We had a delimna deciding what to do with the brush: burn or chip. Burning is easy and can help clear those vines when done right on top of the clearing. Chipping gives us mulch we can use on paths and the tent camping site. Once all of the cutting is finished, we are going to rent a chipper and make mulch. We might as well make sure there is a full days chipping if we have to rent one for a day. I plan on cutting the larger trunks into firewood for use at home and here. I have a few other topics of interest that warrant a seperate post that I will post in the next few days. They will be about beaver that is still there and starting an orchard in some clear areas at the north end of the property.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The reason for the tractor

Here is part of my reasoning behind finally purchasing some form of tractor. The picture shows a peninsula that semi-seperates the main rectangular pond from the northern shallow pond. It is at a strange angle, overgrown, and generally unusable. I believe it is from excavating the pond and allowed the excavator to reach further portions of the pond during renovations in the past. it is shaped sort of like an inverted V with the north side steep and the south side sloping gently towards the water. I want to shape it with a flattened top, leaving the steep north side, and creating a possible building site or at least a packed gravel pad for my wife to enjoy the pond. A small cabin would have a great view from here of both parts of the pond. I cleared the brush over a year ago with a brush cutter, but the vines and a few trees are coming back from the roots. I am heading out to mow the year old shrubbery before they grow enough next year to require a rotary cutter. A middle buster/sub soiler combo at TSC will be picked up soon for busting up that grass and other gardening uses, maybe while I am out mowing. I will then go over it with a box blade and level it off. The next post should be of my mowing results and maybe a little logging/sawmill action if time allows.