Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sage brush

Sage brush

I have several types of sage at my compound, I mean ranch. I have been wanting to remove the bulk of it because it is so thick,and grazing grass has to compete with it. Increasing the livestock carrying capacity is the primary reason. Also sage gives the place a dry desert feel so removal is in part for cosmetic reasons. I made a scraper several years ago and used it to clear a small area in front of my shop, perhaps only two or three acres, It was very successful in removing the sage brush and grass grew in nicely the next year. The scraper was made out of I beam that I welded in a square box shape, and I used a chain to pull it with a pick-up. The scraper also worked well to smooth out the driveway. The front I beam would knock down the high spots and dirt would accumulate in the box and fill in the pot holes as it would slide over the low surface. The sage here is very stout some have stumps larger than 8 inches most are smaller but the large ones are remembered well after plowing through the field and the box would jerk to a halt and I would slam against the wheel from the sudden loss of momentum. Sadly the box scraper-smoothie could only take so much abuse till the metal sheared in half where the chain mounted. I switched to pulling it from the other end to get by till the project was completed. It didn't work as well and soon broke again since it wasn't as strong having been broken previously. My welder was broken at the time so I wasn't able to repair the scraper. Its a Lincoln diesel generator welder and the starter had gone out because we were using it for our house-hold power during the first year here.  we had a generator for the house but that broke and the welder was filling in for it. Is it just me or is there a pattern of things breaking.

Anyways, I have since repaired the welder and I have built a new and improved smoothy scraper this time I built it with reinforcements and a steel rail road track was added for weight and scraping. Its welded across the mid section and a blade from a loader bucket was welded to the front for scraping its also very heavy. 
The entire assembly weighs in around 2k so its tough to get moving but it crashes through most obstical when it gets up to a cruising speed. This scraper was built durring the last fence project, to run along the planed fence lines. Because it easier and nicer to fence a smooth surface than a rugged one. Large sage needs to be removed because its tought to string a straight wire through brush. A strong fence needs to be straight. Sage brush is actualy a type evergreen tree.

I was at an auction a while back and an old plow was sold in the last group of items so I picked it up for 150. It works well to remove the sage by plowing through it several times from different angles and directions.

I've been using a ford f250 4x4 to pull the plow and box scraper. I had traded for the truck a couple years back and originally used it to haul water. The problem is, it has a gas engine 460 and the fuel millage isn't great so I use my diesel Dodge for water runs and leave the Ford on the ranch for running about and fencing. Now its a tractor too. Speaking of tractors I tried using a guys tractor and it was getting stuck every time I went out in the pasture, The Ford gets stuck some times too, but a pick-up is easier to get out than a tractor. Now I have all wheels chained, It hasn't gotten stuck yet.
I broke the bumper off today pulling the plow. I started to build a bumper out of scrap steel I had around here but I ran out of oxygen for the torch so I will have to resume after I get the bottle refilled.

Here are some before and after pic of a turn out pasture I plowed the day before. Most of the sage in the pic is plowed and up-rooted when It dries up and breaks down it will look nicer. I left some of the greasewood sage because it is more treelike than the gray sage (I'll pretend its a real tree). It also stays dark green like that year round. The ones in this pic are over 6 ft tall, So its a nice little tree. I have several hundred acres to go, I'll keep you posted.

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