We have nearly 3 acres and about 2 of those are entirely overgrown forest and scrub. Now we actually
love this about our homestead because it feels so private and wild, but we need some of the space the scrub is taking up for other things. In Fall and early Winter we worked on clearing the brush and small trees from around the horse shelter and cutting an ATV trail through the woods. We reinforced the horse shelter, which wasn't a horse shelter at all when we started working on it (more on that in another post in the future), mulched tons of saplings and scrub, created our first compost pile, went over and over the new horse pasture area with magnets, put fencing up, stacked hay, picked up lots of random trash, and learned how expensive natural gas is. :)
At first we had a pretty small area of the yard fenced off for the horses, which was fine. But they weren't really earning their keep and we just can't possibly clear out a big section of the woods with our puny human hands over the Winter. So what can we do to speed up the process? What could the horses be doing to help? How do I give them more space to roam? Inspiration struck so I went to the internet to see if I could find these ideas in action. This is what I found: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qF5EtXnNuWk
If you take a look at that video you'll see Pa Mac clearing his forests with the help of his animal friends. He has goats, pigs, and cows... but I'm going to do this with my two horses over the winter, and add goats and chickens this Spring.
I'm pretty sure the horses are going to have a complex about bird nests from now on... but I like to get the hay up off the ground and slow them down from eating it too fast by spreading small handfuls ALL over the place. As they trample trails and clear space I keep pushing further into the woods. I'll drive the 4-wheeler as far as I can, sometimes using my handy folding saw to cut down some small saplings, spread the hay, and repeat the following day. Nick comes out to cut down larger dead trees every other week or so.
I'm hoping that the hay that is left on the ground and the horse manure will help the ground become a more enriched environment. Hopefully we can get some grass and ground covers to grow in there.
The days are getting warmer and the snow is slowly melting away... the sun is poking out and warming us up. We can't wait to see how things will have changed when Spring is in full swing! And gosh dang if I'm not SUPER excited to get some goats on the homestead!
I'll be moving a corner of the fencing back soon to prepare for the start of a small food forest, and expanding in another area to clear another section of forest. Hopefully this works!