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  1. #1
    New Member
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Posts
    6
    Location
    Virginia
    Tractor
    Kubota B8200

    Default clearing land

    I need to clear 5 or 6 acres of woods to plant pasture for my horses. Most of the trees are pine trees, 12" in diameter or less. A few hickory, oak and maple. I'll keep the largest hardwoods (1-2 ft diameter) for shade. The ground is mostly flat, some with a gentle slope. Is it feasible to do this with a tractor and FEL, say 45 HP or so, or should I just hire someone to come in with a dozer? The local excavators are all busy, and I'd like to get the pasture planted this fall. The land is in the northern Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

  2. #2
    Gold Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Posts
    373
    Location
    Alabama
    Tractor
    JD 5200, NHBoomer 35

    Default Re: clearing land

    From what I have heard in the past about horse pasture, planting this year after clearing this year will leave holes and rotting roots which will be a problem. An excavator with a thumb is definatley the way to go. Around here (AL) they rent for about $1000/week or $3000/month. There will be less topsoil lost with the excavator than with the dozer even with a root rake. Also get soil tests done. The best time to lime is when nothing is planted.

  3. #3
    Gold Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Posts
    275
    Location
    Southwest, VA
    Tractor
    New Holland TC 40A

    Default Re: clearing land

    I just helped my father clear about an acre of land for his new garage. I live south of you, but we have the same terrain. We spoke to several contractors and everyone was busy, so we cleared the land the hard way. We cut all of the trees and left 3'-4' of the tree trunk so a chain could be wrapped around near the top of the trunk. (You have to wrap the chain so it will bite into the tree when pressure is applied). We used my TC 30 to remove most of the trees. The extra length of tree trunk really adds a lot of leverage. I also used a box blade to soften the roots systems of larger trees. The system worked well for us. I encountered one tree that I didn't even try to pull out, so we made a pulley system and attached it about 30' in the tree. This particular oak was on a steep hill side and it was leaning toward the slope, so I pulled it over with the pulley system with my tractor.

    I would hate to clear 5-6 acres but if you are not in a hurry and want to save money give it a try. We were able to remove all of the root balls with the above method. It took two weekends to accomplish an acre but we saved a lot of money. I never pushed my tractor to the limit, but I would have liked to had a heavier machine with more HP.

    After the trees were out of the way, I used the rear blade and box blade to remove the smaller remaining roots that seperated from the root balls. The builder could not believe the amount of work my little tractor did.

  4. #4
    New Member
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Posts
    6
    Location
    Virginia
    Tractor
    Kubota B8200

    Default Re: clearing land

    Thanks for the good suggestions! Sounds like that was quite a workout, Todd C, but possible in a pinch. I think I'll try harder to find an experienced operator with an excavator before I try it the hard way. I've tested the soil already, Panache, and (surprisingly!) the pH is perfect already. The soil is high in potash (probably from being burned over in a forest fire years ago) but depleted in nitrogen and phosphorous, so I was planning on fertilizing before planting. I hadn't thought about needing to let the ground settle over the winter. I'm not sure how many roots will be left after the excavator is through with it, but I'll definitely keep that in mind. John.

  5. #5
    Super Star Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Posts
    12,481
    Location
    Upper Midwest USA
    Tractor
    JD 4300, JD X485 JD 4x2 Gator, JD 425, JD455

    Default Re: clearing land

    Welcome to the forum.
    I would say 'give it a try' and see how long you like that much tractor time. Just as well find out. I do doubt you will get finished in time to plant this year, and maybe not even in the spring. But that I don't really know, as I don't know your tolerance and drive to 'getRdun'. I know mine, and I like the tractor work, but I know 6 acre would not happen in the next month of pretty solid tractor work clearing brush and trees, and prepping for planting seed. [img]/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img]

  6. #6
    Platinum Member Varmintmist's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Posts
    795
    Location
    Chicora, PA
    Tractor
    Mahindra3510

    Default Re: clearing land

    If you are not going to till the soil, cut the trees off close enough to the ground to get the brush hog over and seed it. Horses dont care if you leave stumps in their yard.

    For me it would be that or DIY over the winter. The higher you tie, the eaiser it is to pull. Dont cut them off at all, tie 10-15 feet up and pull.

  7. #7
    Super Member Highbeam's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    5,039
    Location
    South Puget Sound, WA
    Tractor
    Kioti CK30HST

    Default Re: clearing land

    With a rope longer than the tree is high.....

  8. #8
    Platinum Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    509
    Location
    South Carolina
    Tractor
    JD 5105

    Default Re: clearing land

    </font><font color="blue" class="small">( If you are not going to till the soil, cut the trees off close enough to the ground to get the brush hog over and seed it. Horses dont care if you leave stumps in their yard.

    For me it would be that or DIY over the winter. The higher you tie, the eaiser it is to pull. Dont cut them off at all, tie 10-15 feet up and pull. )</font>

    if you leave a stump in place in a pasture, in two years when it is rotten it will be a hole perfect for breaking your horses' legs. Incredible vet bills, or a lost horse over being to cheapto stump. Ever read "charge of the light brigade?" <font color="red"> </font>

  9. #9
    Silver Member
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Posts
    201
    Location
    Erie, PA
    Tractor
    Kubota B2650

    Default Re: clearing land

    I cleared 10 acres of similar property last year. After cutting and bucking all the trees, I hired a large excavator with experienced operator to pull the stumps and large rocks. He also buried a few rock walls for me, and created a long ramp into the back of my barn. Nothing like a real excavator to get things done fast.... he was done with the excavator in around 7-10 days of work time. Note he couldn't work in bad weather or mud, so total elapsed time with the excavator was around a month.

    I waited around a month for things to dry out, then burned all the brush piles and tree limbs that I didn't cut for firewood. There were a few good hardwoods that I took to the lumbermill to cut for flooring and siding.

    After the excavator was finished and the brush was burned, the excavator operator brought in a D-8 bulldozer to run over the entire acreage, pushing all the stumps and large boulders into a long windrow at the back of the property. The D-8 took 2-3 days and left us with a very smooth and fairly compacted surface.

    I then ran a Harley power rake over the whole thing a few times after the D-8 left, and seeded with a mix of bluegrass, orchard grass, and white-flower clover.

    A year later, I've had to pick out a few medium sized boulders with my backhoe that seemed to rise out of the ground, and fill in a couple of erosion areas, but other than that, I have a gorgeous relatively weed-free pasture that our horses cannot keep up with. The windrow has completely grown over with the natural vegetation that was in the area. We left a handful of large specimen trees so the horses would have some shade in the summer, and they look very nice in the midst of all the green pasture.


    Many people told me that it should take around 3 years for a pasture to fully grow in, but ours is very thick already; I have to mow at least every 2 weeks, and sometimes weekly to keep it down.

    We have another 10 acres of woods behind the pasture that backs up to a pond on the other side. Once the leaves fall and the ground starts to freeze at night, I'll start working on cutting all the trees down. The first 10 acres of clearing were started in April of last year, and it wasn't a lot of fun cutting down and bucking trees in the muddy wet leaves, and the heavy equipment sometimes had a hard time in the mud. The work should be a lot easier and go a lot faster in the cooler and hopefully drier weather.

  10. #10
    Bronze Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Posts
    62
    Tractor
    John Deere 790

    Default Re: clearing land

    Keep as many hardwoods as you can.

    As for clearing, I'm in the process of clearing out the last 2 acres of pheasant pens, popped out all the posts with a Ford 555 and a Deere 310 backhoe, but the pile of posts/ netting and chicken wire is to much to push so I"ll be getting a Deere dozer this weekend to push it all in one pile.

    Next year after posts dry a bit; 5 gallons of kerosene, 1 match and voila - one much smaller pile of garbage to deal with.

    Have you checked to see if there are any lumber co. in the area? some folks around here will have them come in and clear out land for a portion of the profit and with the understanding that the stumps and some of the hardwoods will be left.

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