Off-Grid and Free: Homestead Road-Building and Site-Clearing

| 7/26/2019 9:11:00 AM

Excavator Reclaiming Access Road 

The Off-Grid and Free series recounts one homesteading couple's journey to build a new homestead in Nova Scotia. Read the full series here. Find the author's book, Off-Grid and Free: My Path to the Wilderness, at Moon Willow Press.


Once we chose our property, one of the first priorities was to reclaim the beautiful gravel road that is about a mile long heading across the peninsula. From lack of use, the road was overgrown with alder. After consulting with a local contractor, he recommended that we use an excavator with a grapple that can actually grab an alder bush and rip it out by the roots. This is by far more costly and time consuming but it is the best method in the end. We could have opted for a bulldozer to plow and shear the road open but any alder roots that remained would regrow quickly and we would be overgrown again in a few years.

Another alternative would have been to use either a chainsaw or clearing saw to hack the alder down but we would be faced with doing that routine every few years due to the roots sending up new shoots. Using an excavator with grapple is the best method for long term control of the alder lining the road. It also leaves the majority of the roadbed undisturbed so hopefully the roadbed doesn’t reseed and rejuvenate itself in alder.

Up until this point, we had been lugging gear and supplies through the alder to get to the proposed house site. We are getting older, have thrashed and bashed our way through the bush over the years and having road access so we can actually drive to our site would be heaven, so the excavator couldn’t get its work done fast enough. How nice it was to drive our car down a freshly cleared road with a newly graveled extension right to the house site! Now we could bring in supplies and set up another tent to serve as a temporary, albeit long term home while we built our house.

Proper Chainsaw Attire

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