Sunday, January 23, 2011

Lessons Learned

We started out the day with a reasonable goal. There is an old stove that we found in a gully and we had been putting off getting it out. Then we would go clear under and around the OTHER bridge.

We loaded up the Mule with a pair of long handled clippers and a hand saw and went down the hill. Travis had given us a winch for Christmas a few years ago and we thought we could pull it out with that. I started clearing the brush at the top of the gully and Lee climbed down it to see the best way to get it up.

One of the things we discovered when we first started clearing this property is that vines will cover and choke anything in their path. Naturally there were vines aplenty and we had to hack at them to clear our way down the hill. In front of the stove was a good deal of wire. This has also been a problem from the beginning. We have found barbed wire and fence wire every place we intend to clear.

This is something I will never understand. The dumping of wire, cans, bottles and even old appliances on your own property. It's not that expensive to take it to the dump. Or at least put it all in one spot. Not strewn across your land.

Lee hooked the winch wire around some of the fencing and I started the winch. We were able to get some of the barbed wire up, but there was a lot of junk that we couldn't see until we got down in the gully and started clearing brush and vines. The fencing had been down there so long that a quite large tree had grown up through one of the holes. There were two cedar trees on the lip of the gully that were going to interfere, so we went back to the house for reinforcements.

This time we came back with the tractor, wire cutters and a chain saw. We cut down the two trees and could see the mess a lot better. The tractor chains pulled up a lot of downed trees. Some of them had burned areas. I wondered if they had been hit by lightning or if this was a burn pile of some sort. In addition to the stove, there were quite a few empty, rusting barrels. I hope they were put down there empty. How can people not worry about destroying the ground water when we depend upon a well?

When we attached to chain to the stove it came up in pieces. Good thing it wasn't a valuable one we wanted to restore! We keep hoping to find something of value in all these dump piles. Lee especially is hoping for a car or engine! The more barrels we brought up the more we uncovered.

After about 4 hours we quit for the day. We didn't even get to the other bridge! We were both tired and besides, there are a couple of football games Lee wants to catch!I expect Lee will move the trees to our burn pile and make a pile of metal for a dump run when we finish. There are still some loose rolls of rusty barbed wire, fence posts with rusty and mangled fencing and a few more barrels. In order to get to the rest of the junk, we will have to cut more trees.

I used to hate to have to cut a tree down. But the trees on our gullies are so crowded and covered in vines and blackberries and brush, that they are choking. It feels kind of good to free a few trees and imagine them taking a deep breath for the first time.

There are a lot of places we intend to clear. We might even plant some thornless blackberries! It would be a full time job for both of us to get it all done. But with us both working, it will just have to wait. So we do what we can when we can and slowly the Shenandoah Gateway Farm is shaping up! I have this vision of what I want it to be, but I have to have patience. Plus Lee and I are too old to work all day every day! When we first got here we worked so hard every day that we both had tingling and numb arms and hands in the morning.

So here are the lessons learned:

Have patience. It will still be there tomorrow;

Any job you undertake is ALWAYS more complicated and difficult than you had thought, or as Lee frequently says, "Nothing is ever easy."

When dragging a very heavy and long tractor chain with a hook at each end, hold both hooks in your hands. The dragging one will catch and be a big fat pain.

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