Reclaiming a long-lost field

Gary Fowler

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Looking at your photos, I suspect that your hidden rocks are a lot like mine, the more you dig to remove them, the more you find. I think that if I removed all the rocks from some of my hills that I would end up with a valley.
Good job on all so far, but be prepared to be forever picking up rocks every spring after Mother Nature hatches a new bountiful crop during the winter.
 
  
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dave1949

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This rock truck will be used to haul the stumps to the stump dump. The ground across the field is pretty rough for a road truck and it won't get much better until the stumps and rocks are out of the way to allow some grading.

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I finally got some topping on the lane to the field. It was 6" smooth/round rock like at the right in the pic. Driving on it will work the fines down into the rocks and lock them in place. It was neater than that until they skidded logs on it, which was a bad idea for loose rock. RDrancher would be appalled, I know :laughing:, but now we can use it without twisting an ankle or shaking the tractor to pieces.

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dave1949

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Looking at your photos, I suspect that your hidden rocks are a lot like mine, the more you dig to remove them, the more you find. I think that if I removed all the rocks from some of my hills that I would end up with a valley.
Good job on all so far, but be prepared to be forever picking up rocks every spring after Mother Nature hatches a new bountiful crop during the winter.

I'm in for it with the rocks, for sure. Some areas aren't too bad and some are really bad. I'll have to see how it grades out.

I think there will be rocks that sort of crown at the surface but not high enough to have to go around them mowing. Sometimes those stay put and sometimes they keep creeping up with the frost heaves. There are some that are just too big to move but some grading can taper the soil around them. There are several that will be obstacles forever.
 
  
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dave1949

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The stump and rock wall removal and trucking is done. Plenty of picking up yet to do this fall.

The stump dump got pretty well filled. Enough dirt was carried on on the roots and squished to the surface by the weight of the rock truck and bulldozer that the top of the dump will be able to be bush hogged for the most part. From past cases of burying brush, I think it will be years before much changes there. It will be interesting to watch though.

This is about the same view from the side of the stump dump as post #39. The level top area is much larger now than at the start.
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View from the lower end, also as in post #39. We didn't pretty this up because I have trees and stumps to dispose of somewhere every now and then. They can be added to the end as needed.
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dave1949

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Some pics of removing the rock wall. It ran across the center of the field. Most of it was just a mess except for about 50-60 feet that had never been skidded over. I decided to just get rid of all of it. They are a pain to keep the trees from growing next to them where the bush hog can't cut, besides living with a barrier across the middle of the opening.

Having the rock truck made a huge difference. The contractor said without it, we wouldn't have been able to do it the way we did. I could easily see that. It allowed working from all over the field whereas a road truck would get torn up and stuck doing that. He rented it; it's for sale in Madison, ME if anyone needs one. :D

Loaded rock truck. Interesting factoid: the wagon portion of these trucks are made to tip over. At the articulation joint behind the tractor portion, there is a swivel. We didn't test it thank goodness but it had been on its side sometime or other. The load rides high. There is a safety decal inside saying if the wagon tips, hang on to the steering wheel--do not jump out.
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Loading rocks from the wall.
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Some of the rocks were trucked here to provide the base for a truck turn-around at the entrance to the field. It was a mostly useless small, low corner area behind a ledge outcropping, so I made something useful out of it. :)
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The next step is about a month of rock picking I would guess. Depends on the weather and my age. :laughing: The contractor loaned me a 10' piece of heavy I-beam with loops welded on each end to hook up a chain or cable. When I get tired of picking, I can drag that around from the tractor's draw bar to do some smoothing.

I want to get the field in the best shape possible before planting anything, so I think it's important to be patient with this next step even if it means delaying planting until spring. It would probably be good for the seed bed if the soil weathered a bit over winter and got smoothed again in spring anyways.
 

wmonroe

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Impressive progress. Looks like you are using the right equipment for the job.
 

scott_vt

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My goal at this point is grass hay, which I think goes with developing healthy pasture. The hay around here is mixed grass hay for the most part.

Boy does the winter wind howl across that opening some days. .

Good Morning Dave,
Looks like your making some real progress ! Very nice !

I can relate on the wind issue !:)
 
  
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dave1949

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Thanks guys. So far the progress has been mostly watching big equipment and writing checks. Next comes the sweat equity part. :eek: I put nine hard hours into it yesterday and even though I was working on some of the ugly parts, I can see it's going to take awhile.
 

keegs

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Morning Dave... just seeing this thread ... looks like quite a project! Have no idea of the cost but have you considered getting in a tub grinder in for those stumps?
 
  
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dave1949

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Morning Dave... just seeing this thread ... looks like quite a project! Have no idea of the cost but have you considered getting in a tub grinder in for those stumps?

I thought about it but didn't look for any tub grinders in the area. I don't know how well tub grinders deal with rocks and it would have been a time consuming process to feed it rock-free stumps. It would have made a nice pile of compost after 5-10 years.

It's too late now :), they are banked in that dip and I can drive the tractor over all but the low end of the bank. Giving up the dip area was no loss, it would have been hard to make use of. The dirt is not deep enough to have leveled it out some. More digging there generally just gets you more rocks, or ledge, a bit more than I suspected or was hoping for.

Overall, it's never going to be half the field quality that your oats are growing in. There are few decent acres here and there, but some is only going to be suitable for rough pasture I think.
 
 
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