Welcome to Antler Valley Farm

Progress!!

We were making progress with the clearing!  Ok, ok, Saint Jim was making progress with the clearing.  The only real problem we had at that point was the terrible drought we were in.  We were waiting for some nice rain to come in so we could start burning the brush piles-the HUGE brush piles that were multiplying!!  Jim was getting really good at winning the war on the Virginia pines.  (Of course he was loving every minute of it!!)  The evidence was more brush piles every week!

                        At this point I had lost track of how many brush piles we had to burn.  My daughter asked one day if I could actually count that high?  Well, of course, I can…. On a good day!!

 More Brush Piles!  Brush piles as far as the eye can see-or so it seemed!

The original plan had been to let the brush piles settle and dry out for a month or so and then try to burn them.  Well, that month turned into another month and well, I’m sure you remember the fall drought of 2016.

The rain didn’t come…and still didn’t come… and still didn’t come.  Then the wildfires started.  The fire at Lake Lure was closer to where we lived but the fire at South Mountain State Park wasn’t far from the farm.  For several weeks, the smoke from both fires seemed to settle over the farm.  All the pictures I took looked blurry due to all the smoke.  It was a scary time for everyone in WNC.  The fires made our family very thankful for everything we had as so many people were in danger of loosing all their material possessions to wildfire.

Late summer and early fall brought very little rain to the farm.  The ground was sooo packed and hard.  Jim was struggling to push over trees that would’ve popped up in no time a few months earlier.  When the trees did come up they ripped out of the ground leaving huge holes and dust flew everywhere.  Jim went from checking the air filters on the dozer every other week to changing the air filter every day.  No joke!  If he put in a full day of work on the dozer, the air filter would be so filled with dust it would weigh several pounds!  Let me just say that Dozer Air filters are quite expensive.  It took Jim several hours a week just to clean the dust, dried pine needles, and dead leaves off the dozer so it wouldn’t start a fire.  So, we made the difficult decision to quit using the dozer until we got some rain.  We were bummed but we were also very grateful we weren’t in immediate danger from the fires.

What could we do?  Well… we could always pick up sticks…Or pick up glass…Or we could play at the creek some more!  Such a tough decision!!  We actually did all of those things-maybe not equally though!

The things we couldn’t do?  Make progress clearing trees, grade the cleared ground, plant grass seed-Nope, couldn’t do any of that.  It was really hard to wait, but we had made quite a bit of progress throughout the summer.  We were impatient to get started again, but we were happy with the progress we had made so far!

This is some of the progress we had made since we first bought the land.

This is the view from the house site right after we started the initial grading work in March 2016.  You can see the cell tower in the distance in most of the pictures for a reference.

Another picture from the house site using the mountain as a reference.

This picture was taken just a few months after the intial grading work when Jim first got his dozer.

Another view of the front yard.

Spring/Summer 2016- Just before we began clearing.

The difference in these two pictures really shows the drought we had in 2016.

Late summer/fall 2016.  Jim had moved the brushpile at the bottom of the yard and started clearing in front of the cell tower before the fires started. 

I think the picture above was taken in early September before the wildfires, but it looks like late fall with everything so dead and brown.

These last pictures are actually what it looked like once we had a little bit of rain and the dust and smoke from the fires settled.  Jim started working overtime out there to make up for the lost time.  Once Jim started running the dozer again he really went to work!  He spent a lot more time with his dozer than with me.  It’s a good thing I’m not a jealous person, huh?

Winter 2016-2017.  Jim made huge amounts of progress and all the Virginia Pines stretching over to the cell tower were now GONE!!!

He made tremendous progress over the winter months and by late February he had almost all the Virginia pines knocked down.   We were optimistic that spring would bring lots of rain.  Lots and lots of rain so we could start burning some of the brush piles and begin planting grass!  We were ready!!

Early April 2017

  It looks sooooo beautiful with grass growing!!!

I had to throw this last picture in for my own sake actually because it makes me soooo happy to see the progress and the grass, but I’m getting really ahead of myself here.   Sorry…

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