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.