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Clearing out the bush

This issue marks 36 years since my first Grainews scribbles in November, 1976. Many thanks to the readers that advise me to keep writing.

My Dundurn farm is in the Allan Hills south of Saskatoon — rolling land with stones and sloughs and many poplar bluffs. We normally dispense with bluffs by “pushing” the bush, usually with a big bulldozer. Bush pushing is normally done in winter when the ground is frozen and the trees neatly break off at the ground surface. I did some of that 10 years ago but the “pushing” leaves all the roots in the ground and a brush pile containing lots of good topsoil that makes it hard to burn.

I had a few acres with a small poplar bluff that was part of a pasture in early days, and the settler had placed a couple of small dams to insure water for the cattle. My soil probe revealed generous depths of good black nutrient rich topsoil. I have been salivating for years about putting that topsoil to better use. But it was hard to attract a trackhoe for a small job. Luck was with us when one appeared at a nearby farm.

The job

The job included a drainage component to drain a small slough into a larger slough with a dam to keep the water in. If 2013 turns out dry I will be looking for a way to get that water on my pea crop.

The contractor was Viscount Excavation Inc. (Dean Schlosser). Dean made sure I was there when the job was done. He asked me what I wanted and did way more than I thought possible. I have huge respect for folks that can make a huge machine like that work like a toy to do great things.

If you have bush to get rid of, the “pulling” method works much better than “pushing.”

I have no financial interest in Viscount Excavating Inc., and did not know Dean Schlosser until he appeared in a neighbour’s yard. †

About the author

Columnist

Les Henry

J.L.(Les) Henry is a former professor and extension specialist at the University of Saskatchewan. He farms at Dundurn, Sask. He recently finished a second printing of “Henry’s Handbook of Soil and Water,” a book that mixes the basics and practical aspects of soil, fertilizer and farming. Les will cover the shipping and GST for “Grainews” readers. Simply send a cheque for $50 to Henry Perspectives, 143 Tucker Cres., Saskatoon, Sask., S7H 3H7, and he will dispatch a signed book.

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