Getting the ground work started on the Orchard

Jim Timber

5 year old buck +
Finally got some time in the woods with a saw and began the process of clearing.

I'll be back up the end of next week to cut more and start burning the slash. :)

Need to make some room for these guys -
That's a nice looking bunch of trees, Jim.
Dan grafted most of them. lol I had 6 that didn't take, and one root stock fatality.

That group shot is an old pic too. The whole group has grown some since. I've been trying to get them to harden off and stopped watering them daily the end of August.
So far I've only had the little bucks and momma's on the property since the corn got big enough to eat at the other end of the block. I'm ok with that this year, because it means I can work on this spot and only disturb the does bedding area and they don't really care about me anyway - got within 50' of a doe on the atv leaving the woods after the session I took the first pic. She was just standing in the trail as I came up towards her at about 10 mph.

I'm also having another nerve ablation done on the 20th, so I'm trying to get as much done as possible before that procedure in case they fire off my shoulder muscle with the guide tube in it like they did last time (hurt worse for about 6 weeks from the tissue damage).

And yes, you're right - I have a lot of work to do! I'm only cutting the trees and removing them. I'm not processing the soil or removing the stumps yet. I just want to get enough open ground and sky to get the trees planted before the ground freezes and clearance so I don't hit any of them with further clearing for better sun angles which will likely resume in the spring. I'm not sure I'll even remove the stumps - this is mainly a wildlife orchard.
I cut saplings low and big stumps as low as I can so there's as little left to rot as possible and they're not a hazard on my atv. This spot is one of the highest on my land, but also has a somewhere for the cold air to fall away to via a nice hill and hollow along the South and West sides. I'll be cutting back the trees at least to the center of the hollow, and far enough out on the West so they should get a good amount of sun but still be protected from our predominantly western winds. The Eastern edge mature trees need to remain, as they're part of my bullet trap for the future rifle range. The apple trees will be out of the line of fire.

Now that the neighbor's lot was logged, the browsing pressure on my regen has been dropped dramatically. I've had more stumps die from deer browsing than I've killed with herbicide/diesel. What used to be eaten back to the ground is now getting over grown and needing cutting, so the deer aren't doing their part anymore. :(

Yesterday I put in an order for a Echo SRM 410U brush cutter, and should have it by the end of the week when I head back up. No more bending over to get the little stuff with the chainsaw! :D
Jim-I hope the lack of browsing isn't from lower deer numbers.
Not in the slightest! We have more resident deer than I ever thought possible this year - it's because they're eating their fill on the neighbor's cut-over land and not mowing mine because it's the only succulent food source in the area. They come to mine to bed as I had always hoped. :)

Now I just need the estrous to start flowing and the big boys to come looking for booty. :D
Haven't done anything but some test cuts, but I'm getting closer.


Need a burn permit and a weed burner to get it lit, but with enough heat she'll go!
Great work Jim!
Thanks Maya!

I still need to get a few more bigger trees on the ground, but I should have a big enough spot to plant in by tomorrow.


Click the pic to play video.

I took down a few more 14" oaks in the far end of the clearing after shooting this, but here's a better idea of what I've gotten done so far.

I have roughly 120x120' opened up. I need to clean up the wood on the ground a bit more before the trees go in, but I have enough room to plant without fear of dropping an oak on anything when I finish making sunlight last longer in the hole.
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Haven't done anything but some test cuts, but I'm getting closer.

Fine looking piece of equipment. Have you had much luck with Echo products? I've been eyeing a Stihl brush cutter all fall...
Thanks for the complements! It's a bunch of work (especially with my screwed up spine), but I know this will pay dividends for decades to come.

I've only got the brush cutter and a 34cc chainsaw from them, but that saw is a joy to use and I've owned it for about 3 years.

So this brush cutter - I'm half way through the second tank (a tank lasts 2+ hours of pretty steady tree lopping), and I'm very impressed so far! I was told by the tech at Doug's Power Equipment (great place to do business with) when I picked it up that I should be able to turn the choke off before it stalls out. I responded with "I never get that on my saws" and he looked at me funny. My echo chainsaw takes 5 pulls on choke cold, then fires off on a single pull after choke is disengaged. Always starts like that. Always starts easy, but it always follows the cold start procedure. Once it's been run enough to warm up a little, no choke is needed the rest of the day and one pull will fire it up. Same with my Husky and Jonsered's - that's just how I tune them. So back to the brush cutter... One pull on full choke (as long as you didn't run out of gas, then it needs priming), it'll run bogged down and idle there while you flip the choke off. That's it!

How does it cut? Freaking awesome! I wore the teeth off the new heavy brush blade (not the light brush one it comes with) and still kept dropping saplings. Granted, I was stump cutting red and white oak and that's not easy on chainsaws either, but she never seemed to care; nubby blade and all.

With 43cc's, it winds up very fast. It doesn't need full throttle to handle smaller plants, and with full power you have to mash it into a trunk to make it struggle (with a dull blade :D ).

The harness it comes with is a bit awkward and doesn't lend itself to rapid ingress/egress, but works well enough once on. I'll likely switch to a shoulder strap and skip the 4 point rig, but then I'm also not using it 8hr's day after day like a Pro would.

Vibration transferred to the user is minimal. I couldn't run my FIL's straight shaft (70's vintage) Stihl for 20 minutes without causing my nerve damage to wig out my hands, but I had no symptoms after 3 hours use of the Echo.
There was a question over where this orchard lies over on the Facebook group, so here's the layout I drew up last year.

The spot the orchard is marked was based on some initial GPS points and not accurate to what the end result will be. The green blob between the house and orchard is a small clearing which will eventually end up a micro plot. It's currently very active as a bedding site.

You've doen a ton of work to get those apples in!

I see lots of changes in elevation. Surprised. Looks like some places for an impoundment of some size.
I've got a couple ponds in mind. One will be in a natural spring seep (just South of the garden), and the other will be the house's back yard to the North.

Sadly, if I wasn't pacing myself to keep my hands working (nerve issues), I'd have all the wood out by now too. It should go pretty quick once I get the plywood box for my woods trailer built.

So far soil looks good too! Nice black top soil even under the stumps that were uprooted in the Sept 4th storm. It also drains well. This is a spot that doesn't get muddy like the areas to the South of it which have a lot of clay. I wish I could get a dozer, or even a skidsteer in there to level it out. It's not too bad, but it's certainly not flat.
You got a great start and its looking good!

Got the trailer modified for tree transport today. It still needs a cross bar in back to keep them from shifting, and the lid to be put on, but otherwise we're about ready to roll North tomorrow.



All this wood was dumped on me by my mother-in-law a few years back as "good useable plywood" - little did I know when I agreed to take it that it was all crap. So after years of sitting outside waiting to be turned into ground blinds or something, it's finally found it's purpose.
Trees made it to the orchard and are in cages waiting to go in the ground.

I'm somewhat torn on spacing and layout though. I don't really care about vehicle access and would like the trees to provide a little cover once fully grown. At the same time, I don't want them crowded. What should I do?