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The Land - Pt. 1

I have gotten quite behind on posting photos from our recent adventures - in large part because of what I'm showing you now - our land, part of the Devil's Coulee region (in the Bluffs region of eastern Minnesota), which we've been working on almost daily for months in between our other jobs and commitments. There is something incredibly zen and amazing about working on the land, physical labor, surrounded by birdsong, biting bugs, and sunlight dappled through the forest trees - it's made time flow by in such a fashion I'm not altogether sure where the last few months have gone.

I will share some of our first photos from our land, mostly taken last December and early this year. I will continue in another post with adventures of trout, chainsaws, giant gardens, and deer skulls.

The old barn before we cleared the trees around (which were all overgrown, weedy box elders which made me feel a little less bad about cutting them)



My apologies if you've seen these photos from mbala before, but here are a few pictures of old cars nested on the property before we removed them.

There were mostly VWs, including two vans.

I was told this was a 57 Bel Air. It completely fell apart when it was moved, it was upside down and a tree had fallen on it, reducing it to an amazing pile of rusty pieces.

Mossy fallen structure.

Inside the old barn.

Barn ceiling.

There were old signs of beavers wandering through, though no signs of any current habitation.

The bluffs on each side of our main valley are over 200 ft high and very steep.

A panorama of the main building site area up on the first level of bluffs.

To the right here is an open 10 acre field along the private, dead end road cutting through part of the property.

This tree near the driveway is one of the largest we've found so far - it is an oak, at least 9 or 10 ft in diameter.

Small old storage sheds, not sure what their original purposes were.

We have a lot of these interesting 'sister' trees on the property - I am not sure what type they are but they are beautiful and many intertwine in really interesting fashion. I look forward to getting to know all of our trees as the years go by, and planting many more!

This is all that is left of the old house that burned down. There is an old marking inscribed on it that says 1916. It's really too bad that it's gone, but we're planning to use the old foundation to build a root cellar.

Another view of the barn and bluffs behind it before we cleared the falling trees.

A taste of the car graveyard before we hauled them all away.

The old barn, before clearing and cleaning. We pulled out 16 vehicles and a massive dumpster full of scrap metal - old appliances, metal barrels, all sorts of broken farm equimpent, and many odds and ends of dubious background.

The constantly changing sky over the bluffs is usually dotted with bald eagles, red tail hawks, turkey vultures and crows - I love it!

One of the small hidden fields nestled in the woods.

Bluffs overlooking the future aviary/bird building and orchard area.

Part of the stream, we have about 3/4 of a mile of it meandering through the parcel.

Two people walking near the stream for scale - this is actually part of the stream that really needs rehab - corn was being cropped up to the edge and you can see how bad the erosion is. We've pulled the field out of production, planted native grasses on it and will have to grade it down to the river to prevent further damage in the future. We really need a Bobcat!

Another part of the stream.

A smaller stream which connects to the main one further down.

I'll leave on that note with the winter photos and continue on again later with some from this spring. :)

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( 31 comments — Leave a comment )
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justblieve
Jun. 14th, 2011 01:39 am (UTC)
Are you going to be building a house here or....?
foxfeather
Jun. 14th, 2011 01:43 am (UTC)
Yes, we have a lot we need to do before we can build (we have to put in a bridge across the river, driveway, septic, well, etc.) but we hope within the next 5 years to break ground on a house and be able to move here permanently. For now we're just driving out after work and on the weekends to work on cleaning up, planting trees, fixing the barn, etc. :)
(no subject) - justblieve - Jun. 14th, 2011 02:10 am (UTC) - Expand
mbala
Jun. 14th, 2011 01:40 am (UTC)
I'm amazed!
Space. Space. Tree. Tree. Land. Tree. Land. Stream. Land. Tree. Tree. Clouds. Space. Tree. Trees. Tree. Land. Land.
vantid
Jun. 14th, 2011 01:42 am (UTC)
Re: I'm amazed!
SSSSSSSSPAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACE
Re: I'm amazed! - foxfeather - Jun. 14th, 2011 01:43 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: I'm amazed! - foxfeather - Jun. 14th, 2011 01:43 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: I'm amazed! - yarrick - Jun. 14th, 2011 01:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
hbruton
Jun. 14th, 2011 02:21 am (UTC)
Such a beautiful property! I start drooling when I think about the bird and animal life you'll be able to attract! Really envy you guys!
foxfeather
Jun. 17th, 2011 03:47 pm (UTC)
Thank you :) You are more than welcome to visit if you're ever in the area or feel like coming down! It's absolutely infested with raptors - we've seen bald eagles pretty much every time we're there (they come down and fish in our river and have a nest just down the road), golden eagles (I believe just passing through), resident red-tails, and a few slimmer raptors I haven't yet been able to identify (trying to tell a sharp-shin or cooper's is hard for me from a distance at speed!). Lots of little songbirds, kingfishers, herons, such a nice change from the only-house-sparrows we get at our current suburban home! I look forward to being able to spend more time getting to know them all out there. :)
midwestcougar
Jun. 14th, 2011 02:23 am (UTC)
For some reason I thought that there was already a house on the property (not a burnt down one).
foxfeather
Jun. 17th, 2011 03:47 pm (UTC)
Nope, not on this one! We will be building, but it's raw land at the moment.
corvus_animus
Jun. 14th, 2011 02:26 am (UTC)
WOW! The land is so gorgeous! I'm so happy you guys have it!!
foxfeather
Jun. 17th, 2011 03:47 pm (UTC)
Thank you!!
shimmerhawk
Jun. 14th, 2011 03:12 am (UTC)
So pretty there, wow! I can't wait to see some spring photos. :)
footpad
Jun. 14th, 2011 06:37 am (UTC)
What a wonderful thing it is, to marry a place on the land.

That erosion looks to me like a river's natural meandering, a thing which is beautiful in its own right. Personally I'd leave it be.
foxfeather
Jun. 17th, 2011 03:51 pm (UTC)
I agree! The hardest part of this whole multi-year process really was getting attached to places and then having it not work out because of (mostly) greed of people who see the land as just something to be destroyed/mined/utilized to its fullest and not as something to protect/steward/appreciate. There is a huge disconnect between me and the way the real estate world works out here. And I guess everywhere, now. However, we're really happy to have this place and to work on it and making it healthy again!
Unfortunately the erosion is far from natural. In this area we have really deep, rich loam/topsoil which is supposed to be held in place by native plants with deep, dense root systems. All of those were cleared out and have been replaced by corn and non-native weed trees which have shallow roots and are degrading the land as opposed to enriching it. The riverbanks here should be gentle, meandering, and covered in cat-tails, reeds, and willows, swamp oak and silver maples. Instead, the corn has toppled hundreds of feet of topsoil into the river, silting it up and poisoning it. It's going to take a number of years to put things back to where they should have been and let the river heal itself.
(no subject) - vantid - Jun. 22nd, 2011 05:51 am (UTC) - Expand
shistavanenjedi
Jun. 14th, 2011 08:46 am (UTC)
Trees like those sister trees have usually been coppiced to make them grow like that, but by the size of their trunks it looks like it was done a long time ago.

Great photos.
foxfeather
Jun. 17th, 2011 03:52 pm (UTC)
It surprises me if anyone had done anything like that out here since the land and trees were pretty badly neglected, but it is certainly possible! I wonder if there are any trees that do this on their own, since there are so many which are - I look forward to learning more about what is out there!
brerandalopex
Jun. 14th, 2011 01:15 pm (UTC)
[Alopex] Such beautiful land! We'll definitely have to drop down and visit some time. Maybe after the craziness of Anthrocon and Comic-Con are over...
foxfeather
Jun. 17th, 2011 03:53 pm (UTC)
Thank you! You are more than welcome out anytime you want to come. :) Lots of room for huskies to roam happily and good hiking - though at the moment it generally involves a machete because its crazy how quickly things have grown up everywhere!
chenneoue
Jun. 14th, 2011 02:12 pm (UTC)
Wow... :o I look forward to see more pictures! :>
moresobaplease
Jun. 14th, 2011 04:04 pm (UTC)
I cannot believe how wonderful this property looks! I'm sure it will take quite some time to get it to the point of being habitable, but it sounds like you've done a remarkable amount of work on it already. I look forward to seeing many more pictures as it begins to take shape. :)
uniformgrey
Jun. 14th, 2011 04:18 pm (UTC)
I am in complete awe of your property and so so glad that people like you own it and will care for it and treat it with respect!

Lovely! I can't wait to see the Spring shots!
thorintatge
Jun. 14th, 2011 09:58 pm (UTC)
Yayayayyayyyy!

Thanks for the pictures! You must feel proud and you're only going to feel prouder.
songdawg
Jun. 15th, 2011 03:46 am (UTC)
Wonderful!
peachtales
Jun. 15th, 2011 11:04 pm (UTC)
I love it. It's gorgeous!
If I ever get vacation again, I am driving up there. :D

Edited at 2011-06-15 11:04 pm (UTC)
foxfeather
Jun. 17th, 2011 03:54 pm (UTC)
You're welcome anytime :)
(no subject) - peachtales - Jun. 18th, 2011 02:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
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( 31 comments — Leave a comment )