I am finally about to begin work on a starting pen. It will be on the acre adjacent to my home and kennels. Up to this point in time all I have done is cut down a few dozen trash trees, and a few post oak and blackjack oaks that are diseased or dead. I have also spread some native grass seed such as blue stem, love grass, side-oats, and some others to try to get some additional cover and forage for rabbits in places where some sun makes it through the oak canopy.
I had a man who manages a high fence ranch South of Weatherford come and give me a price on some tractor work. He will begin clearing a six-foot wide path along the property line. After that I will mark where I want the corner posts, stretch posts and gate posts. Then he will come back and poke holes in the ground. So once the fence line is cleared, and the post holes are in place my work begins. I picked up a used electric concrete mixer for $50 to make the mixing a lot easier. I will probably use pressure treated wood posts unless I can find a good deal on metal corner posts and stretch posts.
The following pictures will document the state of the pen before work started. It shows the property lines and some of the cover before any work starts.
This is the boundary between the acre that will be the starting pen (right) and my side yard beside the house (left). You can see the kennel building in the far back
This is looking east and away from my house along a common drive for my neighbor, me and a vacant house further back. The property line is about 4 feet from the gravel drive.
Some thick brushy cover in the back of the image and the start of some of the native grasses I planted in late February/early March
The property line continuing to follow the contour of the gravel drive. You can see the painted T-post in the foreground. There is another one in the distance where the drive turns to the right. From the second T-post the property line goes straight back to a seasonal creek. I have a lot of work to do to get decent starting pen cover here. Right now it is home to some very healthy poison ivy mixed amongst Virginia creeper.
Some of the Poison Ivy mingled with the Virginia Creeper
You can’t tell it but this is the edge of the creek which is on the left in this image. The brush is thick enough in most places that you can’t see the creek. The tractor man will take care of that in two weeks.
Looking the opposite way toward my kennel and the upper Northeast corner of the acre that my house sits on. If you look closely on the upper right of this image you can see part of the roof of the kennel building. In the upper left of the image you can see part of the roof of my house.
An image of the creek I mentioned earlier from the same place that I took the previous two images.
This tree trunk is my nemesis. When I was clearing out junk trees and oaks that were dead or diseased, I ran into this beast. It appeared dead but it is very solid and heavy. It wore my chainsaw out and after I was well past the point of no return I realized it was getting dangerous. I was working alone with plenty of brush to trip over if I needed to bail out in a hurry. I used the chainsaw as much as I dared and then starting using a double-bladed axe. In the end there was a remnant the width of a 2×4 holding the 40 foot tree up. I rocked it back and forth listening for the inevitable cracking and popping sounds with three escape routes cleared out. Finally it fell, but it remained propped up by a 4 foot high 2″x4″ piece holding the fallen tree truck up off the stump. I swung the axe several more times with vigor but instead of falling and rolling off the stump to the ground, it just fell on top of the stomp and refused to budge. At this point the chain saw blade was dull and wouldn’t cut butter. The tree seems secure but once I get a new chainsaw blade I will cut this bad boy up.
A view of the kennels with two unstarted females encouraging me to hurry up and finish the starting pen.