I spent a lot of the weekend behind a brush hog, clearing paths through overgrown fields and forest.
Angelika's orchard-to-be is off Ed Hill Road north of Freeville, and it's on land that's well into the succession process. Much of it is covered in hawthorn and buckthorn, with some old pathways taking longer to grow over. We interrupted that growing with a 17 horsepower DR Field and Brush Mower rented from Cortland Rental Center over the weekend.
Angelika had already cleared the driveway with a smaller brushcutter so that we could get in and work in the main area of her planned orchard. We unloaded it from the truck (I'm very glad we rented a ramp!) and got to work.
Mowing down goldenrods and similar small stuff was easy, as was small brush. The main challenge was multiflora roses. Individual rose bushes disappeared easily, but dense thickets were hard to get through. The machine could cut them, but it took a lot of back and forth to cut the thicket without getting cut to pieces by the thorns.
I felt really powerful as I was using this crazy machine - until the thunderstorms came in Saturday night and I could see the lightning all over the south. Then I felt awfully small. When we came home and looked at an aerial photo of the site, I could see where I had been cutting, and it went a long way - but was still a tiny portion of the overall area.
Most of the orchard area is forested, but we cut some long trails through its southern meadows to make it a lot more accessible. I cut four meadows in as well to be staging areas, and we cleared a small area for a storage shed. Angelika will start work on replacing much of the light forest with more useful trees this fall, though it will be a slow process taking many years.
In a good sign, there are already apple trees scattered amidst the others.Posted by simon at August 27, 2007 12:20 PM in orchard