Our homestead was in a bit of disrepair when we bought it, an unusual situation brought about by a sudden loss of the prior owner's wife. After her death, the previous owner ( let's call him Joe) just didn't have the heart to continue to live in a home he had built with his wife with the expectation that they had many more years together.
Joe received several offers on the place and signed a total of two sales agreements, both contingent on other home sales that ultimately didn't pan out. In the mean time he remarried and moved in with his new wife, eventually renting out this place for nearly a year, then leaving it vacant for another six months before we came along.
While the grass was mowed and basic maintenance was performed over those two years, when first built this place was essentially hacked out of the woods. Unless one is willing to push back each growing season, the woods eventually reclaims its former territory. And this is precisely what happened over two winters and three growing seasons until we moved in during June of 2013.
We actually closed on the property in March of 2013, but did not want to move in until the child unit had finished school. So during the spring I was traveling the 12-14 hours round trip in order to try and stay ahead of the woods and at least mow what had been cut in the past. Within a month I realized that many areas would need to be hacked back over the summer and following fall/winter.
Of immediate concern to me with the area directly behind the house and out buildings. The land slopes away from the road and that slope steepens after the house. Joe had cut back the woods another 100 feet deeper into the woods on that steep slope after the home had been built in order to brighten up the place a bit and push the woods back some more. This area now had 3-4 foot high weeds, grass and various invasive species that grows like the dickens and doesn't give an inch unless repeatedly cut to the quick.
In another section I talk about reclaiming the field across the street. That was relatively easy compared to trying to work on the steep slope behind the house that was already over run by a maze of thick brush cover with long hard thorns. The woods were not going to give up ground without a fight. See below for an early spring (morning) and late summer (afternoon) photo comparison of the back slope from almost the same angle.
About twenty feet behind the house the land begins that sharp slope off into the woods. During the spring I managed to cut up to the beginning of that slope, but because the top of that slope had not been cut in over two years I wasn't going to try to cut it back on dash weekends when all I was trying to do was cut the lawn, make basic repairs to the house and get back home to start work on Monday.
Below please find an early spring back yard image and a late summer back yard image from nearly the same point of view. The jungle was twice as high as it was in the spring image before I finally started hacking it back. I still have some scars from those nasty thorns. Lesson learned? Hack back the thorns in the winter. It's easier and you already have heavy clothing on.
The North side of the property where the garden and tool shed (formerly the chicken coop) are located was fenced in with the woods behind the fence overrun and nearly impassable during the summer. Over the summer and fall Mrs. Cog and I cleared the woods back and removed the fence.
The change is remarkable and the before and after images don't do justice to the amount of work that went into clearing this area. The before picture is taken from a slightly different perspective simply because one could not penetrate the brush where the after picture was eventually taken from. There was even more landscaping done since the 'after' picture was snapped.
The images below were taken just a few steps further down the slope and looking towards a more true south (left from the perspective of the camera). We saw this same view, only looking north from the other side during spring and late summer, in the first images in this article.
There has been, and will continue to be, more clearing done on the homestead so come back often and check out the progress. And please.....leave comments and feedback because it is always welcome.