Our winter project: clear the land behind the house so we can see the woods instead of the weeds. We have this pesky weed called dog fennel, and it grows like crazy. It wouldn't be so bad if it was a low-growing thing, but it reaches as high as six feet out here. It's been filling in the spaces between tree stumps and scrubby growth that comes out of old tree roots. The former owners of this farm had a tree harvest several years ago, and it left an unfortunate mess. We knew we'd have to clear it out. That's one of the facts of farming here, and it's given us a great deal of pleasure to see this farm coming along so beautifully. Here's a photo of a cleared area. There's still lots to chop out.
An added benefit - it's wonderful exercise. I am not being sarcastic. When we bought this place almost two years ago, I picked rocks from the borders of the flower beds. They'd apparently been there for 20 years, and they weren't decorative - they were a mess. I pulled them out, often with a shovel, I loaded them into my garden "dump wagon", and I wheeled them to the edge of the dog fennel/scrub tree area. I did that almost every day for a couple of weeks. At the end of that time I found I'd lost about 8 pounds. Whew. My old gym membership days didn't do it that fast! That rock pile is still there. Check it out in the photo. It's my little shrine to hard work. (Yes, those tacky old flower containers were put there on purpose. I call this photo "Classin' Up the Trash.")
The newest clearing routine works nicely. Vic chops out the scrubby trees, and I pick them up and drag them into the woods. Here's one of several piles.
Vic runs the tractor with the bush hog attachment over the dog fennel, carefully avoiding the tree stumps, and I pull out downed trees and limbs that have been tangled in vines and prickly bushes over the years. We're about half done right now. It's going to take some serious maintenance. Some of the prickly stuff is actually blackberry bushes. I want to keep some of those. The dog fennel is persistent and will return unless we keep it mowed. The ground is pretty rough there. I will need a heavy-duty hand mower due to all the tree stumps. Hard work? Yes. Worthwhile? Of course. How we love this place. We've taken on a lifetime of work, and we've done it with excitement. And sweat.