One of the things some people forget about hobby farms or farming in general is that not all the work is romantic. I’ve spent the last three weekends clearing fences that had been left overgrown.
I guess as a practical matter I could have just let them go wild. But, I think in my role as appointed steward that it also means living and managing my property that keeps things harmonious with my neighbors. Besides, I prefer a good clean fence line than one riddled with a host of things growing up into the wire. Yes, it is habitat, I do realize that. However, I will be creating a good deal more effective habitat with the orchard and tree plantings as well as other herbaceous plantings contained within the perimeter of the farm. Yet, if I do not persuade, I shall let Robert Frost speak for me in the notion that “Good fences make good neighbors.”
But, my whole point is that it didn’t feel all that productive a job and has taken a significant level of labor, and certainly wasn’t glamorous when one thinks of a hobby farm as the bucolic paradise of growing wonderful things. There is a good deal much more involved in starting up and maintaining a hobby farm of 10 acres and I dare say the least of it will be planting my veg garden. The soreness of my back muscles have worked themselves out as the piles of brush speak to the level of effort of bow saw and lopers.
Much of the cut brush won’t go to waste. I’ll burry the larger pieces and branches in hugelkultur beds and they will give the energy they collected from the sun and their nutrients to the soil as well as their water-holding capacity.
Yet, if someone visited my place a month ago and revisited today, I doubt they’d see much of a difference as there are no new bushes or trees planted, no garden plot plowed, no swales cut, no ponds dug, none of the grand things we have on our list to do. Just the banal piles of cut down saplings and bushes that once littered our fence lines.
But, I’ll sleep well in both my fatigue and the knowledge that I have improved, if only a little, the place for which I have been given stewardship.