I'm making this to document the changes we make to our property. I figure it will be cool to look back on one day.


This has been a long time coming for me. My dad had some land that had been passed down through my family for the last 250 years and the plots were getting to be pretty small over time. My dad bought his siblings sections of the land to make it a decent size parcel back near 2000. I have been interested in this land since I found out about it when I was in high school.
Emily and I have been talking since we met a few years ago about how awesome it would be to get out of the standard neighborhood house and have our own "compound", "homestead", what have you. When talking to my dad back in 2018 I found that he was going to be selling the land so that he could buy some other land nearer to his house. The tract was 12 acres, he wouldn't split it, and the selling price was out of my budget at the time, but I asked if he could wait a year before he sold it to see what I could come up with.
Well, the time was running out on that year last spring. I had paid off my student loans, jeep loans and other debts and after talking to him a few times we worked up a deal that got us both what we wanted. Sweet!!! Now we owned a small forest with a goat path down the middle and an old graveyard.
Now that sounded all well and good at the time because actually building on it was a pipe dream. But the low interest rates of the Covid summer of 2020 got us thinking. So we decided to start clearing for a driveway, and shop. We are still in the research phase of the project now, but hope to one day build a shop and then a house. Here is a picture of the entrance when we bought the place.

The Red box shows where the driveway will go in through the old roadbed eventually.

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Before we bought it officially we actually spent a few days clearing out that little nook so that we could pull my jeep in there to park. There was an old road bed from the 1800s that we planned to use for an access road, the problem was it hadn't been maintained since the early 90s and there were trees growing in it that were 30 years old. As you look at the photo of the entrance above, the cut in at an angle that we made goes to the right of the actual roadbed. This was a 4 wheeler cut through that has been used since the late 90s that we widened enough to squeeze a jeep into.

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Below is a historical photo of the property area and the old road bed in a picture from 1955. The cluster of Trees in the middle is actually an old graveyard that dates back to before the 1800s. There are some amazing Cedar and Oak trees that were protected from all past logging because of their location near the graveyard.
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September 25, 2020 was new tractor day at #CedarHollowSC I had been looking over the summer for a used 25-35 hp tractor and had tested out both green and orange, well I liked the turning radius and forward/reverse pedals on the John Deere better as well as I was able to get it a little cheaper with Hydrostatic transmission and the 3rd function included. I think both of them would have been fine, but I have been pleased with the little 3025e.

It pretty much drizzled that entire weekend in September, but the plan was to try to cut through the roadbed and reach the road that weekend. We had been cutting and piling things along the road and it was about time to move some of the piles, so while I was cutting Emily was moving the piles and tree tops to a large pile near a field so it could dry and we could burn it later. We cut all of the trees into 8-10' sections to use for firewood, except the cedars, I left those all full length to use for poles in the future.


Above you can see where I am working on clearing the old road bed to the paved road. I had just cut the last trees in this photo and we were clearing the tops out. I had to work my way through about 100 feet of old pines to get to the road, luckily they grew so close together and had never been thinned that they didnt have many branches other than the tops.
I cleared out the Road enough to get a few campers to the property and we camped out with @LBarr2002 and family for a weekend in October and we found that the 10'-12' wide clearance was not enough for large campers in the turns. We got him in and out but it was close. We had a great weekend with great weather.

Earlier in September before we got the tractor Ava and I had buried an ammo can with Emily's engagement ring. After the camping trip with the Barr family we finally had a day out there that was nice and just the three of us, Ava, Emily and Me, and we dug up the ammo can and when I asked her to marry me she said yes, so that was cool to do on site.

We then spent the next few months trimming trees as time permitted, we had a few campfire dinners with friends and lots of walks with the dogs and Ava around the property planning trails and house and shop locations.

I had talked to a few people with excavators to see if anyone would bring one over for a day and rid me of the all the stumps I had created. I found a guy I went to highschool with who volunteered and the table was set. We knew to make the most out of him bringing the excavator over we needed to have all the stumps we could cut. So during December I took 4 days off work during the holiday time and Emily and I really set to clearing the driveway to the full 16" width and we started clearing for the shop. We soon learned that we were going to have to dispose (read burn) some of the tree tops or we were going to have a pile bigger than the shop to deal with.

The brush pile after we started burning some from the back side.

The entrance Road after trimming some of the smaller trees, but we still hadn't cut some of the cedars on the edges, We hated to cut these but it was necessary.

the road approaching where the house and shop will be. The field area is where our other photos are from. The pile directly in front is the dump pile of tops.

Emily coming back for another load of tops, while i was sharpening the chainsaw.

We used the winch on the jeep and a snatch block to fell the trees in the driveway as they fell, it was much easier to process them in the driveway than have to pull them out of the woods.

The driveway looking back toward the paved road after i finished trimming for width and you can see the pile of stumps left.

This was right when we started clearing for the shop.

The pile of Cedar Logs to use for the tractor shed later.

This is looking from the field toward where the shop will be. We had spent a day clearing at that point.

Tempe the lab making a nest in a pile of brush waiting on dinner.
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boy the rain last week didnt help our cause this weekend, but we sludged through it and made some huge progress. Thursday afternoon my buddy Andrew dropped off his excavator in the rain and we planned to get started at 8am saturday morning.

The plan was to start at the paved road and see how far we could make it digging the stumps of the trees I had already cut. Well this guy uses the excavator like i use a fork. It was amazing watching him. So I went back and tried to make some more stumps for him to dig. Then he caught up to me at the homesite around 10am and we proceeded to knock down and stack all the trees in that area. I cut the stumps off as many as I could, and cut up the HUGE pines, but it got so muddy that my tractor would just get stuck as soon as I picked up the big logs. It was a muddy mess. But we made a lot of progress.







Sunday Emily and I spent the day cleaning up the pile we stacked on Saturday. My brother Coleman came by for a few hours to help cut some of the big logs. The area is a muddy mess, but we needed to clean up the pile so that next weekend when Andrew comes back he can clear out the last area where the house will go.


The start of the Sunday Fire

The new burn pile location. The logs on the right are some that I had tried to move with the tractor, but I get stuck everytime I pick one up. Going to have to let it dry out a bit, or push them with the excavator blade.

Cutting trunks out of the piled trees.

Its gotta look worse before it gets better.
we had planned to have some people over to camp saturday night, but the mud and weather i think is going to stop that. I'll be out there tomorrow and Saturday knocking down trees and having a big fire if anyone wants to come play lumberjack. Also, if anyone wants some firewood logs 8-10' lengths I may have a few in trade for showing up.
Thanks James and Larry for coming out Saturday and lending a hand, we were kicking ass until we blew a hose on the excavator. We got most of everything we wanted down, now its just time for it to dry up and clean up the huge mess of downed trees.

here are some clean up and before pics of the second area we cleared Saturday .
Looks good Brooks. Those Mini's are nice but they do make a mess of things. Rented one recently to clear some privots out of the year in Camden. I'll keep an eye on this, I love cutting and burning tress!