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  1. #21
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    Default Re: Newbie trying build a farm from a forest

    I've done some work similar to that which you are describing. No matter how you go about it it will take a long time, probably a lot of money too (if you are in a hurry).

    Method 1: Cut everything, get rid of slash (burn, grind, whatever), get the stumps down to ground level, throw some grass seed out and let nature take its course. You'll need to have the stumps low enough to bush hog over or graze the area at least a couple times during the year. Eventually you will get good pasture, but we are talking 20+ years.

    Method 2: Cut everything, get rid of slash, then dig out all the stumps with an excavator, backhoe, track loader, whatever. This will be costly, will make a mess, and you end up loosing a lot of top soil (won't really be lost, but mixed in with the subsoil which isn't the best). You can then seed it and keep it grazed/mowed once well established. Just to give you an idea of cost, a couple years ago we cleared 2ac of dense woods like this for a customer, graded and seeded it and it cost about $5000. Took a full 40hr week with a 953 Cat track loader to get everything dug out and cleaned up. It is looking real good now, but it took a while to get grass established due to the poor soil.

    If I had as much area as you do and were doing it for myself, I'd use method 1.

    As for your original question, if you go with method 1, I'd want the 5075e, a good heavy duty 6' or 8' bush hog, loader with tooth bucket and grapple, and the stump grinder wouldn't be a bad idea if you could afford it (for small areas that you need reclaimed quicker).
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  2. #22
    Elite Member Piston's Avatar
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    I have the equivalent stump grinder your looking at which is a Shaver SC50-same as Woods SG100.

    It will grind stumps down to 12". It works very well and would be a good match for the 5075e however another 10hp at the PTO wouldn't hurt for more speed.

    I've ground quite a few stumps and am using it just as your mentioning, to clear the stumps after clearing land.

    However, it is not the tool for such a large amount of land. It would take you your whole life just to grind the stumps. Your on the right track with an excavator.
    I would buy a large excavator if I were you in good condition. Then dig up all your stumps and sell it when your done.
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  3. #23
    Elite Member GManBart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Newbie trying build a farm from a forest

    Just a point of reference for you: my next door neighbor cleared 10 acres of trees to make a runway, and then used a massive stump grinder to finish the job. The grinder has it's own 4cyl engine, driving a grinding wheel that has to be 24"+. The grinder has wheels, and is towed by a tractor, or truck...it's a pretty serious machine. It took him two straight weeks of doing nothing but working on the stumps to get them all done.

  4. #24
    Elite Member newbury's Avatar
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    Default Re: Newbie trying build a farm from a forest

    Well welcome aboard!

    100 acres is decent size.

    And your thought on a dozer are good.

    So far I don't remember seeing anything about support equipment for the 100 acres of pasture and beef cattle. Your going to need barns, water, lots of fencing, support people, etc.

    You might want to think of "staging" the pasture creation. I'd strongly advise you get aerial pictures of the place back when it was last farmed. (40 yrs ago?) These should be readily available and inexpensive, and might be available digitally. Also get the latest topo maps.

    That would greatly aid in determining the best place to start pasture.

    Then the first thing I would suggest is you cut out some acres of the area for reforestation this spring. Focus on steeper slopes and riparian areas.

    You can always plow the trees under later but they will help control erosion, probably generate another taxbreak, and you don't have to worry about them every year.

    Plan your water management (ponds, streams) well, we've been having some dry times and they might continue.

    Don't limit your tractor choices to green, settle on the implements you know you will need, decide on the HP then shop around for the tractors.

    There's a lot of Virginia support on TBN, search them out.

    Good luck, don't go broke, go gradual.
    My rides - '95 Kubota M4700 w/ PEC, LA1001 FEL :'07 B7610, LA352 FEL, Bush Hog SBX 48 box blade, '09 Woods BH70-X w/ 16" bucket and thumb, 3pt pallet forks, Dale Phillips PHD, Jinma 8" chipper, 2 Piranha's, Winco 12KW PTO generator, Howse plow, 5' KK tiller with a 2002 7.3L Ford F350 CC DRW 4x4 and '07 18' Hudson HSE Deluxe trailer - 5 Ton to haul it all

  5. #25
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    Default Re: Newbie trying build a farm from a forest

    Quote Originally Posted by Verticaltrx View Post
    I've done some work similar to that which you are describing. No matter how you go about it it will take a long time, probably a lot of money too (if you are in a hurry).

    Method 1: Cut everything, get rid of slash (burn, grind, whatever), get the stumps down to ground level, throw some grass seed out and let nature take its course. You'll need to have the stumps low enough to bush hog over or graze the area at least a couple times during the year. Eventually you will get good pasture, but we are talking 20+ years.

    As for your original question, if you go with method 1, I'd want the 5075e, a good heavy duty 6' or 8' bush hog, loader with tooth bucket and grapple, and the stump grinder wouldn't be a bad idea if you could afford it (for small areas that you need reclaimed quicker).
    This is a great thought. I had never really thought of the possibility of just cutting the stumps down as low as I can and planting grass around them. 20 years is much longer than I'd like to wait, but its useable and I'm only 31. Plenty of time, right?

    I really do think I might try this. Even if I just do it in sections and grind stumps in the areas I'm not using. I've never farmed at all before so there's no way I could start up using all 115+ acres. Plus, it sounds like prices for hiring an excavator to clear stumps might cost me more than the land did.

    Quote Originally Posted by newbury View Post
    Well welcome aboard!

    100 acres is decent size.

    And your thought on a dozer are good.

    So far I don't remember seeing anything about support equipment for the 100 acres of pasture and beef cattle. Your going to need barns, water, lots of fencing, support people, etc.

    You might want to think of "staging" the pasture creation. I'd strongly advise you get aerial pictures of the place back when it was last farmed. (40 yrs ago?) These should be readily available and inexpensive, and might be available digitally. Also get the latest topo maps.

    That would greatly aid in determining the best place to start pasture.

    Then the first thing I would suggest is you cut out some acres of the area for reforestation this spring. Focus on steeper slopes and riparian areas.

    You can always plow the trees under later but they will help control erosion, probably generate another taxbreak, and you don't have to worry about them every year.

    Plan your water management (ponds, streams) well, we've been having some dry times and they might continue.

    Don't limit your tractor choices to green, settle on the implements you know you will need, decide on the HP then shop around for the tractors.

    There's a lot of Virginia support on TBN, search them out.

    Good luck, don't go broke, go gradual.
    Much appreciated, newbury! I had read on some "how to establish a farm" type site that using aerial photos to drawn out fence lines before you even buy fencing is best. There's still so much I have to learn. I guess it's a good thing that it'll take a year or so to finish the clear cutting. That gives me time to plan this all out.

    The abundance of farmers here in central VA really is a blessing. I know several and sites like this help a lot to supplement that knowledge. Thanks for the advice.

    One last thing: how could I not get a John Deere? I know other brands are fine, but there's just something especially American about a green JD tractor. It's definitely an item that I'd be willing to spend extra on to make sure I got what I wanted. I feel like a kid with Tonka trucks just thinking about it. Haha!

  6. #26
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    Default Re: Newbie trying build a farm from a forest

    I think the best way to log that place is to push the trees over with a track hoe / excavator and cut the stump off when the tree is laying on the ground. The stumps are then easy to pile up and burn, or just let them rot down. My dad had his 25 acres logged this way and it went very fast. There's no use cutting the tree and then trying to deal with the stumps when they're so easy to push over with the proper equipment.

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigdeano
    I think the best way to log that place is to push the trees over with a track hoe / excavator and cut the stump off when the tree is laying on the ground. The stumps are then easy to pile up and burn, or just let them rot down. My dad had his 25 acres logged this way and it went very fast. There's no use cutting the tree and then trying to deal with the stumps when they're so easy to push over with the proper equipment.
    There not his trees, the forester owns them, and is unlikely to harvest with a hoe.

    Now a question, are they planted pines or just natural/random growth? Im just wondering how many/big/dense the stumps are and what you can live with. The stump grinder isnt going to change the fact you have to Pull stumps for house/barns/septic or possible watering ponds. I agree whole hearted with phasing your start up. Say 115 acres over a dozen years. But if that is the case, how about 40~80 acres replanted in pines?
    Will the farm/ranch be your bread winnet or a sublmental income or even a hobby?

  8. #28
    Elite Member newbury's Avatar
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    Default Re: Newbie trying build a farm from a forest

    Quote Originally Posted by Manbearpig View Post
    <snip> I've never farmed at all before so there's no way I could start up using all 115+ acres. Plus, it sounds like prices for hiring an excavator to clear stumps might cost me more than the land did.



    Much appreciated, newbury! I had read on some "how to establish a farm" type site that using aerial photos to drawn out fence lines before you even buy fencing is best. There's still so much I have to learn. I guess it's a good thing that it'll take a year or so to finish the clear cutting. That gives me time to plan this all out.

    The abundance of farmers here in central VA really is a blessing. I know several and sites like this help a lot to supplement that knowledge. Thanks for the advice.

    One last thing: how could I not get a John Deere? I know other brands are fine, but there's just something especially American about a green JD tractor. It's definitely an item that I'd be willing to spend extra on to make sure I got what I wanted. I feel like a kid with Tonka trucks just thinking about it. Haha!
    So you've never farmed before, and you feel like a kid with Tonka trucks? And what's this
    something especially American about a green JD tractor
    ?

    According to TractorData.com John Deere 5075E tractor information your original tractor of choice is made in Pune, Maharashtra, India.

    Yet at the same time your worried about expense on land clearing.

    How much does a new JD 5075 w/ FEL cost? $30K? $35K? That's costing your farm about $30/acre over 10 years.

    Most people here on TBN were young once, a few are still young. Most of us try to be helpful. Try reading http://www.tractorbynet.com/forums/r...sals-rant.html and see how property values can change.

    You don't mention anything about housing, structures on the property, wells, power etc. Do you have a good big pickup with a stock trailer (that could run $50K easily)? You've got a lot of potential financial stumbling blocks for your 115 acre farm.

    Is the land even surveyed? In this day and age you need a good survey, because when your friendly next door neighbor sells to someone else boundary disputes often ensue. I've been paying about $30/acre for the last 150 acres we bought down here in NE Mississippi. And that's only with iron pins, not a good blazing.

    Are you going to be relying on the land for your annual income or working 8 hours a day somewhere while trying to develop your farm?

    It reads like you bought a prime piece of property for a decent price and you've got the technical background to accomplish your goals. However LIFE often often gets in the way.
    BLSMM - ""Best laid schemes of mice and men" often go awry. 2 years of drought? Torrential floods wiping away your just finished hillside? Economy going down the tank again? Feed prices doubling? Plan for the worst, hope for the best and it usually comes out somewhere in between.

    Dreams are often hard to realize. Since I got out of the Army in 1978 as an E4 I've dreamed of owning a square mile of temperate forest and ag land. I retired a year ago, I've only got about 400 acres, but I'm getting there.

    I read a lot about farms going belly up, and they are a good source of cheap land and machinery. The goal is to be making money, not going belly up. Generally with farming slow and steady wins the race.

    Good luck.
    My rides - '95 Kubota M4700 w/ PEC, LA1001 FEL :'07 B7610, LA352 FEL, Bush Hog SBX 48 box blade, '09 Woods BH70-X w/ 16" bucket and thumb, 3pt pallet forks, Dale Phillips PHD, Jinma 8" chipper, 2 Piranha's, Winco 12KW PTO generator, Howse plow, 5' KK tiller with a 2002 7.3L Ford F350 CC DRW 4x4 and '07 18' Hudson HSE Deluxe trailer - 5 Ton to haul it all

  9. #29
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    Default Re: Newbie trying build a farm from a forest

    I think you are crazy trying to clear the land that fast..
    My guess would be you got a good deal to buy the land and "clear" it, Now you just have to "farm" it for a few years, then you can sell off building lots for massive $$$.. What is standing in the way are the stumps and the business plan..

    I would suggest you buy some farm land in a lower cost area and build your farm from there. initial investment will be more for the land, but then you won't be wasting money on tree clearing equipment. JD makes rugged tractors that are very expensive and based on the two we have at our farm (2005 5520N and 2010 5045D) They do break down plenty for new tractors (that are made in India). I've been going to kubota and so far I've been happy though it is fairly early yet.

    If you don't know farming what makes you think you will like owning cattle and poultry?? Have you ever killed an animal? Even if you plan to have someone else do the butchering/processing you still have to kill animals your self.
    There are far too many unknowns... I know you are just looking for advice on how to clear the land, but it would be a shame to invest all this money in land that is nothing but stumps and possibly losing your shirt due to lack of planning. (this coming from a fellow 31 year old farmer!)
    Jonathan

  10. #30
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    Default Re: Newbie trying build a farm from a forest

    I meant to also point out that forest farming IS a viable business model.
    IE growing shiitaki, oyster, lions main etc mushrooms. and selling to restuarants/stores etc. It isn't difficult to certify your forest organic and produce mushrooms that way. Then on the few acres of clear land you have you can grow produce (mushrooms get you in the door, produce adds volume$ to the order)
    Also you can grow ramps (wild leeks) and many rare flower species... It is slow to start but can be a successful business model and you get to keep 100 acres of forest/habitat! and you don't have animals to tend to/feed/truck/castrate etc.
    Jonathan

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