Clearing Land the Hard Way

Back in January our son rented us a bulldozer to clear an area of the land. As exciting as it was to finally feel like we were making some progress we quickly realized this job was bigger than we had anticipated and we had already anticipated it to be quite difficult. After seeing just how many trees we had to clear after they were dozed over we had decided to try to get someone to come and chip it for us.

One of Four Large Piles of Trees
One of Four Large Piles of Trees

Now, the task just seemed too daunting to do ourselves. We have called several logging and tree service outfits. Some do not return our calls. I guess they are too busy and don’t need our pitiful little job. Some were smaller grinding services that were not equipped for the volume we had. Some said they didn’t chip trees that had already been pushed over because they couldn’t keep the blades sharp (what ?). As this process of finding someone to chip it for us was becoming difficult too we decided to at least try to do something with it ourselves as we could until (if) we found someone who could.

A few weeks ago Jon and I coordinated our days off so that we could have two days in a row off together. Believe it or not, even that is a task. We packed our cooler with lunch and lots of water to work all day. We figured we would start on the smallest of the four large piles of trees.

The Pile of Trees We Planned to Start on
The Pile of Trees We Planned to Start on. This is What It Looked Like Right After Being Dozed.

The trees have been setting for a couple of months now and would hopefully be dried out a little and burn better.

Just the “End” of the Large Pile of Trees Where We Started

Jon cut some of the trees that were of descent diameter into logs. We drug them off to the side and stacked them. The rest of the smaller spindly trees, roots, and branches we burned. The small stuff and the dry pine branches and needles burned easily.

Burning Large Pile of Bulldozed Trees
Burning Large Pile of Bulldozed Trees


Burning Large Pile of Bulldozed Trees
Burning Large Pile of Bulldozed Trees

We were going to try to burn the piles knowing we just could not cut up all the trees into logs. We would never finish if we tried to cut them all without burning some. Unfortunately, the bigger trees (mostly poplar and pine) were still too green to burn easily. I know from growing up with a wood stove that wood doesn’t burn well when it is green. However, most of these “big” trees are 6 inches in diameter or less and we thought they would be more dried out. We simply underestimated how hard it would be to keep them burning. The fire had the tendency to burn the small dry branches and pine needles away leaving the large wood simply scorched but not burned. We had to work to keep it burning.

Burning Large Pile of Bulldozed Trees
Burning Large Pile of Bulldozed Trees

That evening Jon ran up to the local diner and grabbed us some burgers and hot dogs while I continued to man the fire. After our supper break we continued on, cutting, dragging, and manning the fire. It was a hard days work. And to make matters worse we could barely tell what we had accomplished. Anyone just driving up would be hard pressed to see we had done anything!

The next morning we got up and headed out to the land to do it all over again. This is what the end of our pile look liked after a whole day of our hard work the day before. Impressive isn’t it? Sigh.

Can You Tell We Accomplished Anything with this Pile of Trees?
Can You Tell We Accomplished Anything?

The second day we brought our kerosene to douse the stubborn trees with. We finally got a good hot fire going enough to burn some of the larger trees, but the green wood was still quite stubborn. We continued on, cutting, dragging, and manning the fire.

Trying to Burn Green Wood
Green Wood Finally Burning

That evening we cooked our hot dogs that we brought over the fire. The fire was finally so hot that we could barely get close enough to cook our hot dogs. Still with the fire finally burning hot, some of those large root balls did not want to burn. Many of these root balls are from the original large trees that were logged years ago and the smaller trees just grew back up from them and around them. The dirt in the root balls was a huge hindrance in addition to the sheer size of them. We worked on until about dark again cutting, dragging, and manning the fire.

At this rate, we will still be at this for decades. Hopefully, if it has a little more time to dry out it will burn much better. It will still be a lot of hard work. Or maybe someone will call us back!

Guess what we plan on doing on our Good Friday off? Is this a test of patience from God or just a foolish exercise of futility?

The Land Series:
Closed on the Land
Exploring the Land
Bulldozing a Patch of the Land
Clearing Land the Hard Way
Clearing the Land – Finally a “Little” Progress

Featured at: