Wednesday, February 26, 2014
We met with Sam Shepard of Shepard Construction at the Burke farm today. The long-awaited work of clearing the woods is now making progress again. When we purchased this place in November of 2012, we determined that after our first harvest, we would clear that woods to add to the cropland. The Burke farm’s first harvest finished in mid-November 2013, and we laid specific plans with Shepards to begin the work.
Months ago, as we gained possession of the Burke farm, we had this area examined by the Natural Resources and Conservation Service to make a determination about any existing wetland. The NRCS did identify 2.8 acres of wetlands that must remain undisturbed by our land clearing work. But they also determined that 11.5 acres of this woods are suitable for this conversion. We received their official notification in May of 2013.
Late last summer and in early fall, the standing timber was harvested from that site by the McCarter family. They have generations of experience in harvesting timber. Those trees continue their value now in new ways… making furniture and other wood products.
Shepards have been digging out the many stumps. They say that we set a record for “stumps per acre” in their experience. I think that is because this particular woods has had the timber also harvested sometime in the past. They will clear away the few remaining tiny trees, dig out the stumps, burn what will burn and bury the residue. We can already see the first evidence of how the field will appear when the clearing is complete. It is really hard work, but made easier with the two track hoes (excavators) and two big bulldozers. In a couple weeks or so, we will have access to some new cropland!
There are a few acres (<10) of the Burke farm that lie west of the Kessinger Ditch. Those acres are on a very steep wooded hillside. Those acres will be untouched by our machines, and remain as a woods. Perhaps the ‘highest and best use’ of those acres will be to produce delicious mushrooms in early springtime!
Another milestone occurred yesterday, when the Shepards took down the remaining old grain bin. We sold both the bins last spring to another farmer from southeast Indiana, but he only took one. He gave up on moving the second one, and left it for us to remove. Shepards did so yesterday, crunching it into a package that was taken to the Dumes scrap yard in Vincennes. It will be recycled into something useful.
I will take some pictures in the next few days to show the land-clearing progress, and then share them with you on this website.