Monday, May 27, 2013

Pigs clearing land

There's an area a couple of acres in size on this property where the previous farmers have tossed stuff over the years.  This farm is over 100 years old.  When I have an overgrown area that could contain a bunch of unknown items and ground that may not support equipment, it's been my experience that an easy way to clean it up is to send in the pigs. 
May 17th
 Metal debris don't bother pigs, and they don't eat them.  They'll sometimes dig them out and move them around, but generally speaking you can put a pig into an area that contains scrap metal and they'll be fine. 
May 27th
 They eat all of the grass and shrubs, leaving small trees for now.  If you'd like to have to small trees gone, you leave them there for another week.  No mechanical clearing; strictly animals grazing. Big, strong, earthmoving animals that eat the roots, too. 
 In this area, the pigs uncovered in no particular order:  A complete homestead chimney, laying on the ground.  An antique 2 bottom horse plow.  a ton or two of scrap metal.  A bed.  Lots of broken aluminum irrigation pipe and steel galvanized roofing, and a whole bunch of truck parts - axles, differentials.  Looks like a semi trailer got torched apart here at some point in the past.  Probably a milk trailer. 

May 17th

May 17th
May 27th

May 27th
In areas where there are fewer metal bits they do a pretty complete job of removing all of the vegetation.  This area is pretty clean; apparently at some point in the past the farmer was composting diary cows here; the pigs dug up 30 cow skulls and all of the associated bones; they weren't that interested in them though; they are probably 20 years old, and not very tasty to a pig. 

Scrap steel selling for a fair price; somewhere between $160 and $200 a ton; I'll go out here with the tractor and trackhoe and dig up all of the steel and put it on a trailer to send to the scrapyard.   The aluminum is worth between $2 and $2.50 a pound -- quite a bit.  That'll be sorted out and sent to recycling as well; there's probably $2,000 worth of aluminum here; that's a nice find, a nice payday for cleaning up the property.    Unlike more modern dumps, there's not much in the way of plastic or any organic materials left.  What organic material was here has long since rotted away, leaving mostly metal. 

After the metal and debris are removed and recycled, this area will be used for grazing.  I've allowed the pigs to do a more complete job than I would normally do so that I can see the ground and get all of the debris.  In the future they'll be moved on and off the land to manage the grass at 6 to 8" height. 

This group of pigs will be moved to the next area to be cleaned up,  and the process will start again. 

Pigs can be used in areas that are too wet, or soft or small for equipment to get into.   The longer you keep them in the area the more complete job they will do, down to bare, plowed dirt if you want.  Here the grass is a rhizome-based (root-based) grass.  It's well suited to this soil and area, and having it volunteer works well for me -- I don't have to prepare a seed bed or purchase seed.  In a couple of weeks it'll be green and lovely again, ready for the sheep or cows. 


Chris said...

I'm interested in purchasing some mowers...... could you let me know when you've got some available again?


Emily said...

Wow! Farming needs extra effort and time specially when you are on the head-start stage. Well...base on your photos you're doing really great.

Emily Brown

Anonymous said...

That's awesome! Thanks for the photos. It's just been one nice surprise after another on your new farm.

SmithGang said...

Now thats a great way to clean up what awesome little workers you have. Your right nice paycheck they found.