Moving to the Farm #1: And so it Starts - The Starting Stock

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Blog entry by PG_Zac posted 02-23-2009 09:19 AM 1747 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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This is a woodworking website, so I’ll try to limit this blog series to mostly wood related entries.

Many people have expressed their desire to move to a farm. Well, we have that opportunity, and we are grabbing it with all hands.

Just a little introductory background:
A couple of years ago, I was going nuts because the project I was on had been on hold for several months, and got delayed for another 12 months, so I resigned. I decided (with my wife’s approval) to work out of country for a while to get tax-free income, and return to the project when it kicked off again. We have come to like the tax-free income (who wouldn’t), and we are now buying a farm. (Can you imagine what you would do, if you did not have to pay income tax?) Our plan is to take this uneconomical sugar farm and create our own Haven – LOML and her horses, and me & my wood. With careful planning and lots of sweat we will go largely self sufficient. We’ll create our own electricity & fuel, and feed (and hopefully clothe) ourselves. (that’s the plan anyway)

The farm straddles a main road, with the homestead in the south-west corner of the southern 1/3. The homestead has a lot of lush bush with many trees (I love it), but it is somewhat overgrown. The Farm

A few weeks ago, we started the move. It is only 7km from where we now live, so we are largely moving ourselves. I keep saying “we”, when in fact it is LOML, son, nephew, and the occasional day-labourer doing the work – I’m not there.

I wanted to remove 2 or 3 of the larger trees to open things out a little, but my wife refused, wanting to keep all the large trees. I wouldn’t have minded having a few extra trees to slab & dry, but the lady generally gets her way.

Anyway, we called in an indigenous nursery to clear the fence lines, remove the plants poisonous to animals, remove all small invader plants, and tag the larger invader and non-indigenous plants for us to remove later. Guess what? They identified two large invader trees that have to come down immediately, as they are ruining the soil. One of them is one that I wanted out.

So I now have the logs rescued over the last couple of years:
Avocado Pear
Norfolk Pine
Wild Plum (Harpephyllum Caffrum
Cape Ash, Dog Plum (Ekebergia Capensis)
Forest Natal Mahogany (Trichilia Dregeana)


The logs rescued in the last two weeks:
Natal Mahogany (Trichilia Emetica) a few trimmed branches

Flamboyant (Delonix Regia) a whole tree

Wild Fig (Ficus Benjamina) a whole tree

There are more piles than shown here, these are just examples.

This is what was left of the Flamboyant, so you can imagine how much wood I have to slab next time I go home. In the WoodWhisperer’s words, “It’s a good problem to have.”
Flamboyant Stump
BTW that’s my eldest son leaning against it, and he is over 6 foot tall. A large chunk of this will be turned into a pedestal for horse training.

There are also a few dead trees around the property that will be identified and harvested later. My starting stock is quite a lot for a guy who has only ever had a single garage workshop before.

Yeah, a good problem to have.

In the next episode I’ll try to get into the plans for processing the wood, and maybe the planned workshop.

-- I may be schizophrenic, but at least I have each other.

9 comments so far

View kiwi1969's profile


608 posts in 4902 days

#1 posted 02-23-2009 10:33 AM

You certainly have your hands full there. Good luck with it all. Was also wondering how the Norfolk pine got there, is it a native? It,s an Arucaria right? like monkey puzzle in south america and Bunya pine in Australia. I have an old book which calls the south african tree yellow wood. Maybe i,m barking up the wrong tree (sorry) By the way there,s no way we will let a south african team win super 14 rugby this time round! Good luck again.

-- if the hand is not working it is not a pure hand

View PG_Zac's profile


373 posts in 4848 days

#2 posted 02-23-2009 11:23 AM

Hey Kiwi,
Yes the Norfolk I have is of the Araucaria family. Norfolk Pines have been popular as ornamentals in South Africa for many decades, and they LOVE our coastal regions. It is definitely not indigenous to South Africa, but it is not considered an invader. The few living ones we have on the farm will be allowed to stay until we have grown decent native trees to replace them.

The Yellow Wood trees native to South Africa are Podocarpus or Afrocarpus families. We have a few of them on the farm as well. There is no way I’ll be felling them, even though they yield stunning wood. I guess I have to wait for them to die from natural causes :-)

As for the rugby, Judging by the performance of the Bulls and the Sharks this weekend, I reckon we are in with a chance ;-)
btw, I live in sharks country, so I might be a tad biased.

-- I may be schizophrenic, but at least I have each other.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


24628 posts in 5136 days

#3 posted 02-23-2009 11:43 AM

Good luck with your adventure. I was raised on a farm and retired to good wages and short days when I started my electrical apprenticeship at 19.:-)) My folks & grandparents were largely self sufficient when it came to food production when I was growing up. I guess you could say they came from where you hope to go, being born in the pre-oil era. If you have any electrical questions, give a holler. I’d beg some of your spare wood, but shipping half way around the world would take too much long yankee green! That stump reminds me of a fir I once felled for a friend, 42” across the stump.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View kiwi1969's profile


608 posts in 4902 days

#4 posted 02-23-2009 11:45 AM

Thanks for the info on the trees, i will buy you a beer during the next crusaders v sharks game but i,m living in the Philippines so I hope you don,t mind San Miguel, it,s better than Dominion breweries anyway.

-- if the hand is not working it is not a pure hand

View PurpLev's profile


8654 posts in 5108 days

#5 posted 02-23-2009 04:27 PM

Looks like a good start! and a nice lot to nourish your life in.

Hope to eventually see all those woodworking projects coming out of these slabs. I really like the idea of being able to transform a raw piece of log material into something finished and refined.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 5345 days

#6 posted 02-23-2009 06:37 PM

I love your post, back in the 70’s and 80’s I did the farm and was self sufficient. My tip would be to not get tied down with to many animals if you do it will really be hard to get away as a couple for a few days or a vacation. My 2 cents.

FWIW – You need to seal the ends of the branches/logs you are saving, I use some left over white enamel, if you don’t seal them they will develop cracks in the center running lengthwise in the wood. I date each one with a Sharpie/Magic Marker so I’ll know how long they’ve dried.

-- Only the Shadow knows....................

View Karson's profile


35300 posts in 5860 days

#7 posted 02-23-2009 06:49 PM

Good luck on the new experience.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 5448 days

#8 posted 02-23-2009 10:28 PM

Getting back to nature!

Nice place you have there!

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View PG_Zac's profile


373 posts in 4848 days

#9 posted 02-24-2009 11:48 AM

My other (better) half asked me to let you know that we have at least 5 Birchell’s Yellow-Wood trees on the property, and “some of them need SERIOUS pruning” (her words).

So I guess I’ll get some yellow-wood before the trees die


-- I may be schizophrenic, but at least I have each other.

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