Beehive of activity

Friday, February 28, 2014

The Burke farm is bustling with activity.  The brothers of Shepard Construction have two excavators and two big bulldozers at work clearing 11.5 acres of woods there. They have commented on the large number of stumps they are finding.  This woods has had the trees harvested more than once, with the most recent harvesting done for us in fall 2013.  The previous owner must have had this location logged more than once.

Here is a screen capture from Google Earth of this woods that is being cleared.

Here is a screen capture from Google Earth of this woods that is being cleared.   The green line running from the lower left up to top center is the large Kessinger Ditch.  Most of the woods on the right (east) side of this ditch will be cleared, with the exception of 2.8 acres of wetlands that lie along the ditch in the southwest corner of the woods.  11.5 acres will be added to the cropland!  This Google Earth image was from September 2013, during the final time when the trees were being harvested.

Here are some pictures from yesterday afternoon’s work.  There is also a short video of this work on our YouTube site.

Looking south from the north edge of the woods-clearing work

Looking south from the north edge of the woods-clearing work.  Kessinger Ditch lies to the right, and the main part of the Burke farm lies to left of this picture

Looking toward Kessinger Ditch (west side of farm) you can see all four machines on task.

Looking toward Kessinger Ditch (west side of farm) you can see all four machines on task.

Gene Shepard is an excellent excavator operator.  Here he is digging out one of the many stumps.

Gene Shepard is an excellent excavator operator. Here he is digging out one of the gazillion (seemingly) stumps.

Here, the bulldozer is pushing aside one of the removed stumps.  Eventually, what will not burn will be buried on site.  You can see in the foreground a small preview of how the field will look when this work is complete.  There will be beautiful corn growing there this summer!

Here, the bulldozer is pushing aside one of the removed stumps. Eventually, what will not burn will be buried on site. You can see in the foreground a small preview of how the field will look when this work is complete. There will be beautiful corn growing there this summer!

For those who are unfamiliar with an ‘acre’, it is 43,560 square feet, or a little smaller than a football field.  So, here we are gaining about 9 football fields in cropland!

I hope to share some ‘after’ pictures, in addition to these ‘during’ pictures.  The ‘after’ shots will look even better!

As children and young adults, we spent many hours (or should I say ‘days’) following bulldozers and picking up sticks and chunks to help clear the fields.  We’d load up our little two-wheeled trailer time and time again, and haul the woody debris to the brush pile for burning.  Our dad, Lowell Carnahan, had a knack for selecting new farm locations that “need a little work”.  These days, when clearing a woods, the fields are nearly ‘chunk-free’ when the machines complete their work.   I have to say I don’t miss that hand work.  We have cleared many acres of woods over the years.   And, in recent years, we have also planted trees that protect land devoted to conservation or for wetland protection.  Let’s hope our dedication to the proper management of our soil is helping enhance productivity and conservation… all at the same time.

The soil is a precious resource.

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