Our friends Spencer and Leela came up for a bit of farm work and dinner this weekend, and we decided to take advantage of the lovely weather to begin our assault on Mt. Scotch Broom, up on top of the East hill.
The crew headed off with Weed Wrenches in hand, up, up, up the hill.
In 2012, we cleared all of the broom from the west side of this fence, but left the east side, which is not a fenced pasture area, alone. This year we’d like to add those few acres to our pasture area, rather than continue to leave them for the blackberries to claim, but the first chore is to take advantage of the wet ground to pull a few hundred Scotch Broom plants!
45 minutes of pulling complete: a nice bare patch behind us and a big pile of vanquished plants to haul down for burning. Chore season is off to a good start!
Today, with some help from John’s friend Mike, we hauled and burned almost all of the scotch broom from the Neutral Zone.
A load, all piled up in the farm truck.
Burning two fires at once… We got rid of a few piles of blackberry vines, too!
The 5 acre pasture truly looks like a pasture again. We started working on the broom the first weekend in February, so it’s taken us just 3 months of weekends and a few weekdays (especially John.. Thanks, Dad!!) to make this much progress. Well done, team!
Since we finished the west end of the Neutral Zone pasture a few weeks ago, it was time to start in on the eastern side! Talina, Ana, and John all made great progress while Megan was away for work for the past week. They do good work but they’re terrible at taking documentation. So now that I’m back…
We selected this hillside for our morning’s effort… headed for the walnut tree on the northern end.
90 minutes in, we’re halfway there!
And another 30 minute push, with some help from Dad, and we finished it up for the day.
Done pulling broom for the day, we switched to hauling the old piles of broom from where they lay in the pasture up to the burn pile by the shop. 8 truck loads, piled up over the top of the cab, and we still have all this left. Few more burn days in our future, I guess! We learned that Scotch Broom burns very quickly when it’s green, which is handy, and a bit scary.
This sight was satisfying on so many levels.
And just to counteract all the destruction in this post.. here’s a shot of our baby kale seedlings, coming up in the hugelkultur! C’mon, kale, grow!
We had a work party today… spent a good amount of time in the Neutral Zone attacking the scotch broom, and we made crazy amazing progress! The wide sea of scotch broom that surrounded the little spruce tree has been vanquished.
This is where we were a week ago…
… and here it is all cleared up! And if you look carefully, in the far right and back, you can see Ana pulling the last blackberries from around the base of the tree in the distance. We discovered a very mature elderberry tree, thanks to Megan’s father and his weedeater, and Ana and her rake.
When we were finishing up in the thickest area, we discovered a teeming city of voles living in underneath the dense brush. Ana’s dog Luna was with us, and she did a great job flushing out and killing a few of the voles who showed their faces! She had the time of her life.. and spent the rest of the day looking under every brush and piece of grass for more changes to prove herself a great hunter.
I spent last week in Austin, TX, for work, so not a lot of progress was made on the property. But, I was home for the weekend, and before I got horribly, miserably sick on Saturday night, Dad came up and we made a small dent in the Neutral Zone scotch broom infestation.
A few hours work and a few nice piles of uprooted scotch broom!
This tree was dead – so dead that when I pulled blackberry vines from it’s upper branches, the entire trunk started to sway! The two of us were able to just push the tree down on it’s own. Hello, firewood!
We took a break and took a walk, exploring the boundaries of the property beyond the road to the west. Here’s a different view of the land, from the hill by the road on the west side.
Scotch Broom: the bane of farmers, foresters, and highway maintenance crews. It was introduced in 1850, and has since expanded it’s domain across the Pacific Northwest. Here’s my favorite article, in case you wanted to read up on it!
Dad, using the magic of leverage to pull a THREE FOOT ROOT out of the ground.